2019 Best of Naperville award winners

September 2019 View more

By Christie Willhite

What’s your go-to shop for a unique gift? What hits the spot when you need dessert? Who can save your outdated bathroom? We asked for your beloved businesses in Naperville, and you answered the call, casting more than 15,000 total votes. Read on for this year’s 50 favs—the 2019 Best of Naperville award winners. 

Shopping and retail

Women’s Boutique 

Bri’Zan Couture

Known for personalized service, Bri’Zan offers two-hour appointments to ensure a bride can try on every dress she might like. Consultants listen to a bride’s vision and offer suggestions until, together, they find her dream dress. The boutique offers the same care for those shopping for bridesmaid, mother-of-the-bride, prom, quinceanera, and other special event dresses.

Runners up

• Evereve

• Karisma Boutique

Gift Shop 


The selection of distinctive jewelry, candles, serving pieces, home decor, holiday items, accessories, and more makes Occasions a must-visit spot for every gift-giving opportunity, whether shopping for a persnickety aunt, a fashionable friend, or the perennial hostess. Styles range from shabby chic to quirky to elegant. Most pieces are artist-designed, and every so often the boutique hosts artist events. 3027 English Rows Ave.

Runners up

• Nona Jo’s

• SaraBoo Creek

Car wash 

Delta Sonic

This franchise aims to be a one-stop shop for routine car care and maintenance. In addition to the ride-through car wash with hand drying, Delta Sonic’s service menu features interior detailing, oil changes, and light repairs, along with free self-serve vacuums. Memberships offer customers a set monthly fee or discounts for services. The Naperville location includes a gas station, convenience store, and Dunkin’. deltasoniccarwash.com

Runners up

• Brighton Auto Detailing

• Fuller’s Car Wash


Costello Jewelry Company

A classic jewelry store in the heart of downtown Naperville, Costello strives to offer fine jewelry at fair prices. The store, which has a second location in Glen Ellyn, staffs full-time artisans and gemologists to offer original pieces. Jewelry repairs, adjustments, cleaning, and appraisals also are available. costello.net

Runners up

• The Diamond Gallery of Naperville

• Fey & Co. Jewelers

Pet Store 

Two Bostons Pet Boutique

When dog lovers want to spoil their pooch, their favorite destination is Two Bostons, where they’ll find unique treats, toys, food, clothes, and more. The Naperville shops—downtown and in Springbrook Prairie shopping center—even feature bakery items especially for pets. The staff is eager to help customers find items suited for their pets, even if their furry friends are cats. twobostons.com

Runners up

• Dog Patch Pet and Feed

• Pet Supplies Plus


Phillip’s Flowers and Gifts

Customers can choose every bloom in a custom-crafted bouquet, or be on their way in a matter of minutes with one of the prepared options that come in an array of sizes, colors and flower combinations. The shop offers wedding services, funeral arrangements, and corsages, and will deliver locally directly or nationwide through FTD and Teleflora.  Floral- and garden-themed gifts are available in the Ogden Avenue location of this family-owned west suburban chain. phillips-flowers.com

Runners up

• Celidan Creations

• Trudy’s Flowers

Auto dealer 

Continental Motors Group

Customers say it’s the knowledgeable, attentive staff that sets Continental Motors Group’s Acura, Audi, and Mazda dealerships in Naperville apart from the competition. Family-owned and operated, Continental also is known for its support for community causes, providing cars for families in need through Loaves and Fishes’ CARES car donation program and raising money for groups such as DuPage PADS, Inside Out Club DuPage, and Turning Pointe Autism Foundation. continentalmotors.com

Runners up

• Gerald Auto Group

• Fair Oaks Ford Lincoln

Men’s Store 

Dean’s Clothing

Dean’s, a downtown institution since 1959, carries upscale business attire and weekend wear for men and women. Made-to-measure men’s suits and dress shirts are crafted to fit each individual. An in-house tailor helps customers achieve a personalized fit. With Dean’s selection of accessories, jewelry and shoes, customers can put together a complete outfit—or wardrobe. deansclothing.com

Runners up

• JoS. A. Bank

• Trails & Tides

Food, Drink & Hospitality


Sharko’s BBQ

Awarded honors for Best Sauce at Naperville’s first Ribfest, Sharko’s BBQ now serves diners with two Naperville locations. Here the spotlight is on ribs, and the menu also includes brisket, chicken, and turkey sandwiches, along with meats sold by the ounce or by the piece. Families especially will enjoy the free soft-serve ice cream cones to finish off their meals. sharkosbbq.com

Runners up


• Gemato’s Wood Pit BBQ


Aurelio’s Pizza

Thin, crispy crust. Just the right cheese and toppings to order. Square-cut pieces instead of slices. Aurelio’s pizza has many distinctive qualities, but fans say what lifts it above the ordinary is the signature sweet sauce. The menu includes six specialty pizzas, in addition to the build-your-own options, plus an array of appetizers, thick crust and stuffed pizzas, calabreses, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. aureliospizza.com

Runners up

• Little Italian Pizza

• Lou Malnati’s


Little Italian Pizza

If you’re just ordering pizza from Little Italian, you’re missing out on some of the restaurant’s tastiest dishes. Start with the bruschetta or sausage and peppers, then head for the homemade lasagna or gnocchi quattro formaggi. Or try the traditional parmigiana—this hand-breaded and fried dish is baked with mozzarella and marinara and served over rigatoni, but save room for the homemade tiramisu. Little Italian also hosts private parties and will cater your event. littleitalianpizza.com

Runners up

• Che Figata

• Francesca’s Restaurants


Catch 35

As a premier seafood and steak restaurant, Catch 35 brings in fresh seafood for signature dishes like Chilean sea bass, Alaska king crab legs, seared yellowfin tuna, and Sichuan scallops, as well as seasonal favorites such as Alaskan halibut and Georges Bank cod. Customers say the food is as delicious at lunch as at dinner. A halal menu, including a choice of chicken or steak, is available when requested 24 hours in advance. catch35.com

Runners up

• Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

• Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery

Outdoor dining 

Mesón Sabika

This famed eatery describes itself as “a taste of Spain,” a phrase meant literally for a restaurant that specializes in tapas. Diners are encouraged to order a sampling of three or four Spanish-flavored dishes to eat on their own or to share with the table. The restaurant itself is a converted 1847 mansion, seating diners in various rooms that afford a feeling of exclusivity. Situated on four acres, Mesón Sabika’s beloved brick patio is a place where food lovers can enjoy a meal and some sangria away from the bustle of nearby downtown Naperville. mesonsabika.com

Runners up

• Empire Burgers + Brew

• Potter’s Place

Romantic restaurant 

Mesón Sabika 

See outdoor dining, above

Runners up

• Sullivan’s Steakhouse

• Francesca’s Restaurants

Specialty desserts 

Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery

When a little cake would make a big difference, readers say to head to Smallcakes. The cupcake bakery features a standing menu of 15 flavors—classic chocolate and vanilla plus specialties like hot fudge sundae, birthday cake, lemon drop, and red velvet—along with 18 flavors each month, including gluten-free varieties. Customers rave about the Smash, a layered cupcake-and-gelato delicacy. The Ogden Avenue shop even offers dog-friendly cupcakes. cupcakeshopnapervilleil.com

Runners up

• Le Chocolat du Bouchard

• Beans and Sweets


Egg Harbor Café

This downtown spot for traditional breakfast comfort foods features eggs from cage-free hens raised on a diet free from antibiotics and hormones. When possible, other ingredients are organic, local, and sustainably sourced. The result is hearty, delicious breakfasts, brunches, and lunches that keep diners coming back for more. A gluten-free menu includes pancakes and cinnamon rolls, and coffee served in a carafe for the table is a special touch. Guests can enjoy the scenic Riverwalk, including Dandelion Fountain and a charming covered bridge, just steps away. eggharborcafe.com

Runners up

• Buttermilk

• Butterfield’s Pancake House


House of Emperor

A Cantonese-style restaurant with an extensive menu, House of Emperor serves dishes as individual entrées or as part of a multicourse buffet for the table. The fresh lobster and Peking duck are customer favorites, along with the Hong Kong-style eggplant. The menu is available for carry-out orders, and the staff easily handles the largest of parties dining in. houseofemperorchinese.com

Runners up

• MingHin Cuisine

• Chinese Kitchen

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern 

Naf Naf Middle Eastern Grill

Founded in Naperville in 2009, Naf Naf has grown into a chain of nearly 40 restaurants in the Midwest with an eye toward further expansion through franchising. Each location serves a menu of fresh products, including locally baked pitas and handmade chicken shawarma and falafel from recipes that made the first Naf Naf a hit. nafnafgrill.com

Runners up

• Basil’s Greek Dining

• Pita Inn


The Indian Harvest

The restaurant offers a sizable dinner menu with vegetarian options along with chicken, lamb, seafood, and rice specialties, but Indian Harvest may be best known for its lunch buffet. The selection introduces diners to a smaller sampling of the full menu, and is served with tandoori chicken and naan. Catering is available. theindianharvest.com

Runners up

• Cuisine of India

• Deccan Spice


Sullivan’s Steakhouse

An upscale steakhouse in the heart of downtown Naperville, Sullivan’s prepares hand-cut steaks to diners’ specifications and pairs them with complementary sides like the popular garlic mashed potatoes. Regular customers say the lengthy cocktail menu and tasty desserts enhance the meal. Sullivan’s bar features an appetizer-and-meal menu of its own, with live music Thursday through Saturday. sullivanssteakhouse.com

Runners up

• CityGate Grille

• Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

Coffee shop 


Naperville offers plenty of choices for coffee aficionados, but readers say it’s worth seeking out Lavazza in Hotel Arista. The Italian coffee chain is known for its espresso and creative coffee drinks, such as the popular Orange Mocha Mio. Baked goods, plus breakfast and lunch options, round out the menu. The café has a street entrance, with street and garage parking, making it a convenient place to meet friends and associates. hotelarista.com

Runners up

• Starbucks

• Sparrow Coffee

Beer bar 


Aurelio’s highly rated pizza is only part of the restaurant’s story. Aur Bar serves a lengthy beer list dominated by local brews and craft beers, both bottled and on tap. A beer of the month and a changing collection of featured beers encourage customers to try new and seasonal brews. aureliospizza.com

Runners up

• Red Arrow Tap Room

• Empire Burgers + Brew

Sports bar 

Tap In Pub & Carvery

Fans not only can watch their favorite teams on the TVs throughout Tap In Pub’s bar and restaurant, but they also can compete themselves. HD golf simulators allow golfers to test themselves against famous courses, such as Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and Bethpage Black. The food itself can be a contest—the Ultimate Smash Challenge dares the hungry to polish off a four-patty burger and a pound of fries in 30 minutes or less. tapinpub.com

Runners up

• Bottoms Up Sports Bar & Grill

• Crosstown Pub & Grill

Cocktail bar 

Zorba Lounge

An upscale, contemporary lounge in Hotel Arista, Zorba mixes creative, tasty cocktails and serves quality liquors. With black leather couches and benches around sleek glass coffee tables, Zorba invites associates to discuss business over a drink and friends to share memories over a nightcap. hotelarista.com

Runners up


• Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

Southeast Asian 

Pho Thien Vietnamese Kitchen

While regulars love the pho menu at Pho Thien, they can’t get enough of the restaurant’s weekend special: bun bo hue. The soup starts with pork and beef bones, plus lemongrass, annatto, and shrimp paste, and is topped with herbs, lime juice, and extras. Customers also declare the smoothies are a special treat. phothienkitchen.com

Runners up

• The Bangkok Village Restaurant

• Yum Yum Thai


My Chef Catering

Whether you need casual noshes for an intimate gathering, breakfast for a corporate meeting, or an elegant dinner for hundreds of wedding guests, My Chef has the menu to make the event special – from a picnic with burgers, brats and kebabs, to a wedding dinner centered around beef tenderloin or Chilean sea bass. mychef.com

Runners up

• SanguCHE

• Chef By Request


Jackson Avenue Pub

Set in a cozy brick building downtown, Jackson Avenue Pub strives to serve creative, gourmet bar food paired with local and craft beers. Specialty burgers are built around a choice of half-pound Angus beef, grilled chicken breast, or black bean and quinoa vegetarian patty, with unique combinations of toppings, all served on a selection of buns, including a pretzel bun and a gluten-free option. jacksonavepub.com

Runners up

• Empire Burgers + Brew

• Ted’s Montana Grill

Special Event Venue 

Cress Creek Country Club

The banquet room in the plantation-style clubhouse overlooks Cress Creek’s golf course, providing an elegant setting for events and celebrations, while the attentive staff helps plan and see to every detail. In addition to hosting parties, business events, and wedding receptions, Cress Creek welcomes wedding ceremonies both indoors and outdoors, against the sweeping backdrop of the North Side golf course. cresscreekcc.com

Runners up

• Elements at Water Street

• Mesón Sabika

Entertainment Venue 

BrightSide Theatre

Proudly proclaiming itself as the only professional theater company performing in downtown Naperville, BrightSide each year stages an eclectic season that may feature award-winners, premieres, classics, and modern works. The upcoming season opens with A Christmas Carol: The Musical and features the drama Steel Magnolias, the rom-com Mamma Mia!, and a concert version of the musical Nine. BrightSide’s Youth Project will stage Frozen Junior. brightsidetheatre.com

Runners up

• Top Golf

• Pinot’s Palette

Live Music Venue 

Wentz Concert Hall

Renown for its stellar acoustics that can be tuned to a performer’s liking, Wentz Concert Hall is home to North Central’s fine and performing arts and draws a broad variety of venerable and contemporary touring performers (jazz musician Herb Alpert and improv comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood headline the upcoming season).  Both the Chicago Sinfonietta and the DuPage Symphony Orchestra perform their concert seasons at the venue. finearts.northcentralcollege.edu

Runners up

• Potter’s Place

• Board & Barrel


Hotel Arista

An independent boutique hotel, Hotel Arista is a getaway all on its own. Guests find contemporary rooms and suites well-appointed with smart TVs, Bluetooth speakers, televisions embedded in the bathroom mirror, and even a choice of slumber style from the pillow “menu.” With a spa and fitness center in the hotel, and on-site restaurants Che Figata, Zorba Lounge, Lavazza, and the Tap In Pub & Carvery, guests may not want to leave. hotelarista.com

Runners up

• Hotel Indigo

• Chicago Marriott Naperville

Japanese and Sushi 

Shinto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge

Sushi may come second in Shinto’s name, but it’s first in the hearts of customers, many of whom make the most of Mondays, when the dishes are half-price. The sushi’s a bit of a fusion, marrying traditional flavors with cream cheese, jalapeños, or Sriracha. The hibachi menu features steak, seafood, and vegetarian selections. shintorestaurants.com

Runners up

• Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge

• Blue Sushi Saki Grill

American (Tie) 

Ted’s Montana Grill

In an upscale setting that echoes a classic western saloon, Ted’s serves a menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrées where bison is the star ingredient. Diners can select either bison or beef steaks, and burgers are offered as a choice of bison, beef, or chicken. Customers celebrate the complimentary pickles, hearty sides, and tasty desserts and cocktails, as well as the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. tedsmontanagrill.com

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish house

Decidedly upscale with a multicourse menu, Hugo’s caters to the seafood lover with fresh salmon, tuna, Chilean sea bass, plus specialties like whitefish, shrimp, crab legs, and lobster. Gibson’s prime Angus beef is served in a variety of cuts. Regulars enjoy the signature frog legs, plus the elevated cocktail and dessert menus. Live music and seasonal alfresco dining add to the Main Street Promenade experience. hugosfrogbar.com

Runner up

• Jackson Avenue Pub



Named for the Peruvian word for sandwich, SanguCHE boasts serving “epic Peruvian sandwiches” drawing on the flavors of Indigenous, Spanish, Italian, African, and Asian cuisine. Fresh ingredients and recipes developed by co-owner Cesar Chang, a chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute of Lima, set the sandwiches apart. Customers also love sides like the Peru poutine and treats like the alfajores cookies, which are available daily until they run out. sangucherestaurant.com

Runners up

• Quiubo

• Fat Rosie’s


Dental Practice 

Innovative Dental Partners

This practice strives to offer comprehensive service, providing complete care for families, offering pediatric and adult dental care, as well as orthodontics. The practice has a welcoming, spa-like atmosphere, and uses the latest technology to ensure treatments are safe, gentle, minimally invasive, and effective. innovativedentalpartners.com

Runners up

• Riverwalk Family Dental

• Gantos Dental Group


Mike Martin Photography

Photographer Mike Martin focuses on senior portraits, taking time with each teen to capture natural, relaxed photos that show their personalities in this pivotal year. Martin turns Naperville’s natural areas and iconic locations into backdrops for his two-hour sessions, and adds studio lighting to flatter his subjects. Family portrait sessions also are available. mmartinphotography.com

Runners up

• Veronica Adams Photography

• The Zazu Exchange

Hair Salon 

Studio Luxe Hair Salon

Even if you don’t know what to do with your hair, the stylists at Studio Luxe do. Clients praise the staff for listening, then knowing how to combine the right cut with color and other treatments to compliment the client’s look. Stylists regularly take classes—sometimes even traveling abroad—to stay on top of trends and techniques. The salon uses Davines color and products. studioluxehair.com

Runners up

• Solaia Salon & Spa

• Zazu Salon & Day Spa



When you need to recharge, Me Spa can make you feel like you’ve found a resort amid the bustle of downtown Naperville. The spa features a range of restorative massages and body treatments—from the 30-minute reflexology foot treatment to the 80-minute organic herbal body contouring wrap. Classic and deep tissue massages ease aches, soreness, and tension, while the relaxing hot river stone massage melts away stress. The full-service spa also offers facials, waxing, and manis and pedis. Thoughtful touches include fuzzy robes, heated neck wraps, a foot bath before services, and a relaxation room where clients continue to unwind afterward. Clients say the zero-gravity pedicures are not to be missed. me-spas.com

Runners up

• Solaia Salon & Spa

• Tilson Chiropractic FamilyCare

Full-Service Spa 

See Massage, above

Runners up

• Solaia Salon & Spa

• Zazu Salon & Day Spa

Medical Practice/Group 

DuPage Medical Group

Since 1999, DMG has provided a continuum of patient care from pediatrics and primary care physicians to specialists, simplifying the process of coordinating on behalf of the patient. With more than 700 physicians in more than 100 locations, DuPage Medical Group treats about a third of the county’s population and is the state’s largest independent multi-specialty physician group. Practices offer video appointments, and all use the MyChart digital records service that even has an app allowing users to make appointments, message doctors, and view test results right on their phones. dupagemedicalgroup.com

Runners up

• Edward Medical Group

• Naperville Women’s Healthcare

Law Firm 

Rosenberg & Parker

Founded in 2016 when partners Blake Rosenberg and Heather Parker merged their individual practices, Rosenberg & Parker provides legal services in residential real estate transactions such as preparing or reviewing sales contracts, reviewing and resolving title issues, and preparing documents for closing. Rosenberg draws on his previous experience handling closings for a title company, and Parker’s background includes financial services litigation and mortgages. rp-legal.com

Runners up

• Heather Ryan Law

• Grunyk Family Law

Chiropractic Practice 

Tilson Chiropractic FamilyCare

This comprehensive practice treats adults and children, helping patients find pain relief and healing through adjustments in conjunction with laser, massage, or vibration therapies; intersegmental traction; and kinesiology. Tilson’s professionals also can help athletes and weekend warriors overcome and stave off injuries. tilsonchiropractic.com

Runners up

• Advanced Health of Naperville

• Elite Recovery Chiropractic

Investment Adviser 

Calamos Wealth Management

Providing clients with personalized guidance through a team of financial and legal experts, Calamos coordinates all through a wealth adviser who keeps the individual’s unique challenges and goals at the forefront. Family financial planning may focus on preparing for college or retirement, estate planning, philanthropic giving, and more. wm.calamos.com

Runners up

• Edward Jones

• Ledebuhr Wealth Management

Fitness Club 

Orangetheory Fitness

In small group classes that focus on cardio and strength training, Orangetheory clients (and trainers) monitor their fitness in real time. Using high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, the ever-changing workouts are designed to push clients’ heart rates into the target orange zone on a wearable monitor that connects to displays on treadmills and other equipment. The theory? Spend enough time in the orange zone and your body continues to benefit after the workout (the “Orange Effect”) for even better results. orangetheoryfitness.com

Runners up

• Beyond Measure Fitness Training

• Olympus Executive Fitness Center

Plastic Surgeon 

Bryan W. Rubach

Dr. Bryan W. Rubach is the director of the Center for Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, which provides both surgical and nonsurgical treatments to help clients enhance their self-image. He was involved in the initial clinical research on laser resurfacing, and brought CoolSculpting and other treatments to the Chicago area. cclscosmetic.com

Runners up

• John Bull Jr.

• James Ferlmann

Mortgage Lender 

Inlanta Mortgage

A regional mortgage company serving much of the Midwest and Florida, Inlanta Mortgage guides homeowners with conventional mortgages as well as FHA, VA, and USDA options. inlanta.com

Runners up

• Chase Bank

• U.S. Bank



Reliable Home Improvement

In business since 1967, Reliable offers start-to-finish services on home remodeling, improvements, and additions with in-house designers, architects, job superintendents, and craftsmen. The firm specializes in finishing basements and updating kitchens and baths. A 15,000-square-foot showroom (open to the public), features full-size vignettes of kitchens, baths, and more, to spark client creativity. reliablehomeimprov.com

Runners up

• DJK Custom Homes

• Strahan Construction


C.B. Conlin Landscapes

Whether you’re looking to turn your yard into a lush oasis or dreaming of a stone patio with a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen, C.B. Conlin Landscapes has the design expertise to make it happen. The company designs and installs landscapes; imagines and installs pool decks and patios with a focus on natural stone, brick, and precast concrete; and creates pergolas, decks, and more. cbconlin.com

Runners up (3-way tie)

• Green Works Landscaping

• J&B Landscape Solutions

• Oak Grove Gardeners

Realty Company 

John Greene Realtor

As a family-owned boutique Realtor, John Greene staffs full-time agents who have a deep knowledge of—and commitment to—the community. Backed by supportive training, agents not only help clients find their next house, they offer the Realtor’s City Guide and business recommendations to help newcomers feel at home. John Greene also provides commercial, land, and industrial real estate services. johngreenerealtor.com

Runners up

• Baird and Warner Real Estate

• Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


djk custom homes

Whether you want to select the finishing touches for your new home or prefer to design your dream house from floor plan to cabinet pulls, DJK offers the experienced architects and design experts to make your vision a reality. The builder, founded in 1988 by Dan Kittilsen and his wife, Kim, crafts high performance houses that emphasize energy efficiency. DJK’s Eco-Smart line includes the city’s first homes to qualify for LEED platinum-level certification. djkhomes.com

Runners up

• Lakewest Custom Homes

• Eastman Properties

Illustration by Maeve Norton