Mariano’s has rendered Jewel redundant, put Dominick’s out of business, and makes Whole Foods look like a grocer’s pretentious Palace of Versailles. The store has gotten to the essence of all those places and maintained their best attributes. From the boutique feel of their in-house sushi, sandwich and gelato operations, to their fantastic baked goods, the store wins across the board and in so many categories it’s no wonder locations are opening everywhere. The most crucial component? Fair prices to match exceptional quality. With enough free samples to fill you up before you exit, Chicago’s restaurant industry should even be concerned.
3350 North Western, (773)327-2093; 5353 North Elston, (773)481-6731; 1615 South Clark, (312)225-4386; 333 East Benton, (312)228-1349; 40 South Halsted, (312)243-7657, marianos.com
Best of Chicago 2013