Best Restaurant Trend - 2004
Wakin' up the neighbors
Was it only a year ago when thrill-seeking palates had to schlep to the darkest corners of the Gateway City in search of adventurous vittles? When, if you felt like hanging around neighborhoods that boasted nightlife -- the Loop, Lafayette Square, Washington Avenue, the Central West End -- you were consigned to been-around-forever restaurants that predate the first Bush administration? Finally, the twain have met. New shingles hang in 'hoods where they haven't for years, beckoning diners into many of the best new restaurants in town. Mirasol and 609 introduce cool fusion foods to the Loop. Moxy (see "Best New Restaurant") touches down in the Central West End like a tornado, reigniting the restaurant scene there with its bold moves. Kitchen K, Infierno and Wasabi suddenly make Wash. Ave. a veritable dining strip, a locale where choices now run from a $2.50 tamale to $100 blowfish. Eleven Eleven Mississippi packs' em in on Lafayette Square -- to the point where parking outside resembles the limos on Oscar night. These new kids on the blocks have reinvigorated the familiar right-quick, and just like that, everything old is new again.