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Odyssey: Fun Size

In the tradition of miniature lap dogs, miniskirts, and Mini Coopers, mini food is the next big little thing. Many Chicago chefs and bakers are pushing the traditional boundaries of food in portions that are allowed to be little. Here, a small taste of the best


Minnies

WHAT: Pancakes
WHERE: Orange (3231 N. Clark St.;773-549-4400)
At this laid-back brunch spot, four stacks of three-inch silver dollar pancakes ($10.95) come prepared in themes that change every week. Recent favorites range from dessert-y (Ben & Jerry’s flavors, cookie types) to whimsical (baseball stadiums, Tom Hanks movies). Don’t count on Sleepless in Seattle pancakes anytime soon, though; Orange’s chefs have cooked up more than 1,000 varieties of flights in the restaurant’s seven years—and they rarely repeat.

 

WHAT: Cupcakes
WHERE: Molly’s Cupcakes (2536 N. Clark St.; 773-883-7220)
This sweet Lincoln Park bakery boasts four tasty bite-size options: carrot cake, chocolate, red velvet, and vanilla ($1 each), all of which can be enjoyed from swing seats at the bakery’s counter.

 

WHAT: Sandwiches
WHERE: Minnies (1969 N. Halsted St.; 312-943-9900)
A whole restaurant of mini food, this sandwich-centric locale takes the mini concept to ridiculous extremes. Most of the 22 sandwiches ($8.75 for three) are heavy on the bread ratio, but where else can you drink three beers in less than 20 minutes and not be called a drunk?

 

WHAT: Egg rolls
WHERE: Cozy Noodles and Rice (1018 Davis St., Evanston; 847-733-0101)
These thumb-size beauties look like the real thing, but inside, they’re more like a dumpling: minced chicken and shrimp mixed with black mushroom and bean thread (six for $3.95). Enjoy against the funky backdrop display of Pez dispensers, vintage lunchboxes, and license plates that line the upbeat yellow walls.

 

WHAT: Antojitos
WHERE: Maíz (1041 N. California Ave.; 773-276-3149)
Carlos Reyna’s Humboldt Park restaurant offers a platter of mini quesadillas, empanadas, taquitos, moletes de tingo, and picaditas ($17.50) as authentic as any in Chicago. You can almost make a two-person meal of it, or get any of the mini components as an individual appetizer ($4.75 to $8.75).

 

WHAT: Sliders
WHERE: English (444 N. LaSalle St.; 312-222-6200)
This noisy gastropub’s ambitious mini burgers—Angus beef, filet mignon, and crab cake, to name a few ($2 to $4)—rise above the masses of sliders in Chicago. For a full meal, order three, especially the goat-cheese-topped turkey burger and the juicy, slightly spicy shredded pork burger.

 

WHAT: Beer
WHERE: Goose Island Brew Pub (1800 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-915-0071)
Chicago’s top microbrewery has long offered four-beer flights ($8): five-ounce pours from any of the spot’s dozen draft choices. After a few of these, don’t get on Molly’s swings. . . .            

Photography: Anna Knott

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