Best of 2015: 8 suburban restaurants that impressed
New dining options have blossomed across the suburbs this year. So, with an adventurous spirit, our dining reviewers have chosen their favorite new or newer restaurants of 2015. Happy eating!
7 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 845-0820, buttermilkgeneva.com/
Word obviously has circulated about this contemporary breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Geneva based on the continuous crowds. Those seeking creative and delicious omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast and skillet dishes, need look no further. Of note is the smoked salmon Lox n' Benny eggs Benedict and the Mountain House skillet. For lunch, you'll find an array of salads, burgers like the bacon and smoked Gouda topped with a fried egg, sandwiches (cubano and the country croque monsieur come to mind) and wraps. Don't miss the coffee bar or the strawberry orange juice. Entrees run from $6-$14. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. -- Thomas Witom
401 E. Dundee Road, Wheeling, (847) 520-3352, dekarestaurant.com
Borrowing a page from 20th-century Russian aristocratic dining, Deka puts forth French favorites with a contemporary flair (cassoulet with chorizo) alongside re-imagined Russian classics (vareniki with veal and foie gras) in an elegantly understated space. With 50-odd vodkas at the bar, a gaming room and a seasonal patio, Deka should be on your go-to list for any occasion. There's even live music from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays. Entrees run $17 to $38. Hours for lunch are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and for dinner are 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. -- Deborah Pankey
The Finery & Blacksmith Bar
305 W. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 940-2380, thefineryrestaurant.com/
Housed in what was once the area's first blacksmith shop, diners will not want for choices given chef David Reyes' creative American farm-to-table menu. The 75-seat restaurant calls its fare "an ode to the American table with its diversity and global influence." Those influences reflect David Reyes' Italian, Spanish and Mexican heritage and background working in France for a two-star Michelin-rated restaurant. A few options include the tasty fried artichoke hearts appetizer, plus entrees like the recommended country pheasant and sea bass, not to mention the braised pork belly, flat iron steak and more. The chef-recommended apple tart for dessert is a must. Entrees run from the midteens to the mid-$30s. Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends. -- T.W.
2535 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn, (847) 940-0200, marigoldmaison.com/
The tantalizing scent of cooking naan, Indian spices and sweet sauces permeate this contemporary chic South Indian eatery, which offers a selection of both traditional street food and south India dishes. If you only have time for one dish, try the masala dosa -- the presentation and flavor (surprisingly similar to a German potato pancake) are well worth it. The delectable appetizers and entrees and the kala jamun dessert, warm cake balls soaked in rose honey syrup and served with vanilla ice cream, impressed. The restaurant's multisensory extravaganza and the top-notch service (we were treated like royalty), will entice you to return for more. Entrees run from $14 to $25. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. -- Jennifer Billock
404 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, (847) 367-4992 (36-PIZZA), pizzeriadeville.com
Pizzeria DeVille in downtown Libertyville is fine cuisine in a local eatery costume. Wood-fired pizza isn't the only thing on the menu at this friendly downtown spot, though we do like the eclectic pies -- especially the Motorino Omaggio with brussels sprouts leaves, thick-cut bacon, pecorino, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction. Equally impressive are the salads (think spicy beet, in season), the gourmet bruschetta, the tasty meatballs al forno, and the traditional Italian appetizers and flatbreads. Entrees run $11 to $18. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday. -- J.B.
Ramen House Shinchan
1939 S. Plum Grove Road, Palatine, (847) 496-4189, ramen-shinchan.com/
This traditional Japanese noodle house, set in an uncluttered but intimate store front, ladles out steamy bowls of tasty miso-, pork- and chicken-based broths brimming with traditional Japanese ramen noodles. Highly recommended are the Best Condition Ramen, the Taiwan ramen with spicy ground pork and chives and the Shoyu. The dozen or so rotating specials deserve translation and then consideration, too. Be prepared for a wait; it's worth it. Entrees run $9.75 to $11.75. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, 6 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. -- D.P.
185 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 150, Lincolnshire, (847) 383-5511, starfishsushi.us/home
This modern restaurant, with its massive sushi menu, plus some rice and noodle dishes, is a true gem. The interior is organic, full of exposed brick and birch branches, with soft blue ambient lighting along the sushi bar. Every entree is a work of art. This will quickly become any local sushi fan's favorite place, both for ambience and food quality. Some highlights: the delicious teriyaki chicken, the chirashi, the panko-crusted scallops, and the sushi and nigiri including the standard eel roll, the rainbow dragon, the California sunset, the black dragon and the King Kong. Entrees will set you back $10-$39. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. -- J.B.
Sammy's Mexican Grill & Bar
3091 W. Route 20, Elgin, (847) 622-2020, sammysmexicangrillandbar.com/
If you have a taste for well-crafted Mexican favorites in a crisp, family-friendly atmosphere, seek out Sammy's on Elgin's west side. Besides the homemade guacamole, which incorporates just the right amount of diced tomatoes, onions and cilantro, and fab versions of pollo en mole poblano and cheese-topped enchiladas suizas, the eatery stocks 80-some varieties of tequila for cocktails and solo sipping. Other entrees worth exploring include chimichangas, tamales, tostadas, quesadillas and chiles rellenos. Finish with the memorable flan. Entrees are $12 to $18. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. -- T.W.