124 Best Dishes

We scoured the city for the top offerings on Chicago’s world-class restaurant scene. From appetizer through dessert, from über haute pineapple rum soup to down-home juicy fried chicken, here’s your road map to the 124 yummiest dishes around.

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Yellowfin tuna sashimi salad from Jane’s Restaurant


M. Henry
Now, this is the way to start your day. Fry two eggs, fluffy and over-medium, and encase them in slices of rustic sour boule (a round white bread). Throw in some smoky applewood bacon and perfectly ripened tomato slices. Crumble Gorgonzola and fresh thyme on your sandwich, and enjoy. Or just go to M. Henry and order one. 5707 N. Clark St.; 773-561-1600 [$8.25] 

Similar to a confit in texture, this North Indian duck is cooked dum-style (pot roasted) and served with wonderful, big spiced green beans stir-fried in a kadhai (Indian wok) and a zingy tomato chutney. Generous enough for an entrée, here it’s disguised as an appetizer. 4832 N. Broadway; 773-293-4653 [$11] 

May Street Market
The undulating white plate is your first hint that this is not a typical dusty version of the French classic. A recessed area in the plate’s center holds plenty of plump, juicy snails and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms swimming in a deep, deep burgundy shallot thyme sauce. A bonus: In the soup, and high-and-dry on the sides, are yummy yellow corn fritters. 1132 W. Grand Ave.; 312-421-5547 [$14]

It’s not on the menu, but this frequent special is possibly the most satisfying item of Lebanese fare offered by owner/head chef/server Joe Kuri. He cooks tender cubes of savory lamb in red wine and allspice and serves them over rice with toasted pine nuts and almonds. One whiff of this intoxicating, aromatic dish and you’ll never bother with the menu again. 2748 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-929-9600 [$16]

Meli Cafe
Greektown would probably not be anyone’s first guess as a primo hash-house locale, but this bright and spiffy morning spot dishes up a doozy. Sizzled and served in a long-handled skillet, clumps of juicy, just-salty-enough beef mingle delectably with crisp, tender diced potatoes and nubs of onion. Two eggs—your way—add décor and flavor. Mix it all up for best results. 301 S. Halsted St.; 312-454-0748 [$9] 

The Tao of Michael is a big, shallow bowl with a yin/yang design separated by a delightful warm crab cake. On the yin side is a thick, creamy tomato soup; the yang is an equally thick fennel concoction. Apart, they’re pretty good, but get both on the same spoon and the flavor deepens exponentially. Get part of that crab cake on there, too, and you’ll see stars. 64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka; 847-441-3100 [$11]

Milk & Honey Café
On weekends the line outside Milk & Honey is halfway around the block, but it’s worth it for a crack at this steaming south-of-the-border brunch favorite. Scrambled eggs, black beans, tortilla strips, and salsa are served casserole-style under a blanket of baked Cheddar and Monterey Jack with a zesty side of chipotle crema. And order a fresh, crusty chocolate-and-toffee scone to tide you over while you wait. 1920 W. Division St.; 773-395-9434 [$6.25]

Mirai Sushi
Ignore the ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce: This smooth, creamy fatty bluefin tuna slides down the throat like butter. It’s meaty, succulent, and slightly sweet, but like most other delicacies it doesn’t come cheap—at $12, it’s double the price of some other sashimi selections. But that buys you two sizable chunks of some of the finest seafood in Chicago. 2020 W. Division St.; 773-862-8500 [$12] 

Shiitake, oyster, eringi, and enoki mushrooms float in a steaming bowl of clear sienna-colored broth. Big deal, you think. Well, it is. Somehow the innocuous-looking soup possesses amazingly deep and rich flavors, and the real-deal mushrooms put the Green Giant to shame. 315 W. North Ave.; 312-951-8883 [$4.50]

Made with eco-friendly yellowfin tuna, this round cylinder of minced fish tartare is not your typical tuna tartare. Topped with a whitecap of soft celery root rémoulade and garnished with a relish of whole Moroccan oil-cured olives, herbs, and olive oil, every component of this dish is delicious, yet works with the others in harmony. It’s an MK classic. 868 N. Franklin St.; 312-482-9179 [$15]

Dessert soufflés are notoriously difficult to make, but at Morton’s the raspberry number is a masterpiece of fruity confection, delightfully eggy and airy and quivering tall above the dish. Plated tableside, it’s presented with a scoop of rich Marsala whipped cream. One Westbrook Corporate Center, Westchester; 708-562-7000 [$14.50]

Mysore Woodlands
As long as your arm, this astounding South Indian folded rice-and-lentil crêpe comes astride two side-by-side platters. Nicely browned and light, crisp outside and slightly spongy inside, it’s stuffed with lots of aromatically spiced potatoes, tomatoes, onions, peas, and carrots. It takes a table of four to have any hope of finishing one—so grab three friends and get to Devon. 2548 W. Devon Ave.; 773-338-8160 [$12] 

Nacional 27
Margaritas and sangría pale in comparison to this sexy crimson cocktail. Tequila walks a tightrope between fruity sweetness (from pomegranate and passion fruit) and spicy heat (from a rim of salt and peppercorns). This impressive balancing act deserves a friendly word of caution: It’s hard to have just one. 325 W. Huron St.; 312-664-2727 [$12]

They’re crisp, they’re ungreasy, and they’re unlike any frog legs you’ve ever had. First off, there’s that tangle of yuzu (citron) vinaigrette-dressed baby spinach they’re resting on. Then you’ve got four tasty dipping sauces for the juicy meat: teriyaki glaze, spicy mustard, yuzu sweet chili, and passion fruit ginger. An inspired treatment. 14 S. Third St., Geneva; 630-262-1000 [$8]

When it comes to fish, fine Chicago restaurants are forever trying to out-exotic one another. NoMI’s pan-seared Hawaiian kajiki, known elsewhere as blue marlin, is the pinnacle. White-fleshed but similar to tuna in flavor, the thick square of firm, juicy fish is over celery root purée, under tagliatelle of celery, and truffle jus is all around. Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-239-4030 [$42]


Plate from Material Possessions




7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

What's with the total lack of South Side restaurants? Except for a few places in Chinatown, you don't have a single dish from the South Side...

7 years ago
Posted by Jon L

Re: South Side restaurants...

It's always been that way, in magazines and the newspaper. Apparently there is no place worth eating on the South Side.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Jeez, your best appetizer is a part of an otherwise overwhelmingly Americanized 12-course meal. You can get a more authentic "One-Bite Salad" at Spoon Thai on Western for, IIRC, $6.00. Oh, and it feeds four people as part of a multi-course meal that you'd have trouble spending $85.00 on. Oh, and that $85.00 is for four.

Ask for the translated Thai menu and you'll be transported to Thailand.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

There is one dish from Tin Fish in Tinley Park

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Try the scallops at West Town Tavern!

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

the brisket sandwich at Cooper's - smoky, succulent, delicious...& don't forget about those fries..

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Laura you so pretty!!


7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

You are so pretty...forgot the "are"

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

For those of us foodies on the South Side I agree we were not represented at all. Yes we do have some wonderful restaurants but they are few and far between. Are people not willing to make the trek out south ? Yes we do need MORE restaurants to take advantage of the reasonable rents and to give the communities a chance to experience good quality food.

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

can someone please actually recommend some south side restaurants (instead of just griping about lack of representation)?

7 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

You must try LeRoy Brown's! It's truely authentic ethnic cuisine. Best in town.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

should we go throught the list of South Side city & suburban locations.

Negro League Cafe
Ragin Cajun
Dixie Kitchen
Chi Tung
The Pit

Or should I continue

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

The southside has no representation because if its not fried its not on the southside. And The Pit should never be counted as good food unless you have never tasted real BBQ

4 years ago
Posted by amelias chicago

Have you try Amelia's at 4559 S. Halsted will be nice to see one of their dishes in the made just for north side magazine.

4 years ago
Posted by south-side-mike

Chuck's Southern Comfort Café
6501 W 79th St.
Burbank, IL 60459
Owner Chuck Pine used to work for Baylis at Fontera Grill.
Unique restaurant with combo of BBQ, Cajun, Mexican and American foods...
Once you go there… you will be back

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