Illinois Eatery Among America’s ‘Best New Restaurants’ for 2023
It's always fun to try new restaurants, it's even better when it's considered one of the best new restaurants in America.
As we wrap up the year one of the most trusted names in food, Eater.com, put together their end-of-year list of best new restaurants.
Sure, you could hop in the car and make the trek to Atlanta, New York City, San Francisco, or Philadelphia to eat at one of those "best new restaurants" but you could just stay here in Illinois and do just as well.
That's because Eater also listed a restaurant in Chicago as one of the best new restaurants for 2023.
I don't expect that you have heard of Thattu quite yet for a few reasons 1. I just heard of it and 2. it's new but that doesn't mean it's not receiving some serious pub.
Margaret Pak isn’t trying to make Keralan food the next trend. The chef’s Chicago restaurant Thattu presents an unorthodox glimpse into the culinary traditions of the southwestern Indian state where her husband, Vinod Kalathil, grew up and where her mother-in-law, Jolly Nelliparambil, mastered her methods of griddling thin discs of fermented appam. Nelliparambil passed those traditions down to her Korean American daughter-in-law, who uses classics like that appam and tamarind-spiked rasam (a comforting, tangy broth), to anchor the menu. But Pak takes joy in experimenting. Thattu presents a hulking grilled pork chop that melds curry and coriander leaves with a Midwest meat-and-potatoes sensibility.
One of the reasons this restaurant is so cool is their set up. You order everything from your phone and the kitchen courses it out for you. Even though you order on your phone, the staff is still very kind and attentive, constantly bringing us more water and clearing dishes. Also, this dinner was very affordable. There were five of us, we ordered 8 dishes and it came out to $22 a person. Part of this is because Thattu does not accept tips. They pay their employees a liveable wage, which they build into the cost of the food so that the staff don't have to rely on tips to be paid.
Wow, that is some serious praise, however, the online ordering system doesn't work for every customer.
We had to beg some of the food runners just to answer some questions. Yet we saw the host and even the chef come out of the kitchen on several occasions to talk to presumably their friends or their regulars, we as first timers received no check-in, certainly not by the host or any of the servers or should I call them runners. It's a rather strange system given the price points of their menu since the four of us spent about $180 with two cocktails.
Online ordering issues or not, Thattu is one place I need to try for myself in 2024.
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Gallery Credit: Paul Feinstein