Prosciutto baguette, lamb chili, and fries
Budget: Local Root
Just down the street from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, this happy alternative to big-deal Streeterville dining is positioned to serve locals and tourists alike. It’s adorable—and serious about its name, starting with in-house baking that produces superb breads, muffins (props to the cinnamon chocolate-chip version; $3), cookies, and more.
Before 5 p.m. it’s fast casual; then the lights dim, votives appear, and so does full service. Homey soups and chili ($2.49 a cup) will warm your cockles; follow with a shareable sandwich with fries, such as the hot Pulled Pig on brioche ($11.49) or prosciutto and chèvre on a baguette ($12.49). The menu expands at dinnertime with inventive flatbreads (a tangy three-cheeser is $6.50) and poutine ($6 to $8), that infamous Canadian cousin of nachos. Crêpes with blue cheese and berries make a lovely dessert. To drink: Intelligentsia coffee and Midwestern wines, beers, and sodas. 601 N. McClurg Ct., 312-643-1145.
Photograph: Anna Knott