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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Deviled eggs from Fulton’s on the River


One Sixtyblue
Executive chef Martial Noguier wraps thick medium-rare lamb loin medallions in savoy cabbage—a nod to Alsace—and then in thin crisp pastry. The whole shebang comes on a purée of sweet potatoes with cipolline onions and roasted garlic. An excellent retro dish done with finesse. 1400 W. Randolph St.; 312-850-0303 [$32]

This dessert-like breakfast doesn’t skimp on the sugar. Golden, ricotta-stuffed slabs of chai tea-infused French toast are bathed in an intensely sweet chai-tea reduction sauce and topped with caramelized apples. Syrup is not only unnecessary—at this point, it’s a liability. 3231 N. Clark St.; 773-549-4400 [$9]

You know those big scary oysters you can get in Chinatown? Here’s what the chefs at Phoenix do with them. They perfectly bread and fry them crisp on the outside, somehow managing to keep them juicy and full of ocean flavor inside. There’s no shame in using a knife and fork for these beasts. 2131 S. Archer Ave.; 312-328-0848 [$12]

Prairie Grass Cafe
This version of the tired brunch staple is an excellent demonstration of how to update a classic. Two well-poached eggs wobble atop a layer of vibrant sautéed spinach; smoky-salty nuggets of premium Nueske’s bacon season the dish from the inside out; and the roasted-tomato hollandaise hits a tangy, unifying high note. 601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook; 847-205-4433 [$10.50]

Red Light
Red Light’s signature seafood offering takes the concept of “fish fry” to a whole new, lifelike level. Chef Jackie Shen batters and deep-fries an enormous whole catfish, then presents it dorsal-fin-side up in a way that suggests it might swim right off your plate. Filleted tableside, the lush, steaming meat is well matched with an aromatic red vinegar sweet-and-sour sauce. 820 W. Randolph St.; 312-733-8880 [$34]

Riccardo Trattoria
You’d be hard pressed to find this classic Tuscan dish at any other restaurant in  Chicago. Thin strips of veal honeycomb tripe are braised with onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots, garlic, white wine, a smidgen of smoked bacon, and basil. Topped with grated Parmesan, this rendition exemplifies true Tuscan heartiness, right in the heart of Lincoln Park. 2119 N. Clark St.; 773-549-0038 [$16]

Sage Grille
The idea of the pineapple upside-down cake, an American classic, gets turned sideways with this gingerbread and pear upside-down cake. Moist gingerbread topped with glazed poached pears and golden raisins comes with cinnamon crème anglaise and fresh pear sorbet. After a few bites, you’ll never look back. 260 Green Bay Rd., Highwood; 847-433-7005 [$8]

When Salbute’s chef Edgar Rodriguez ran out of spuds while making potato pancakes for his nieces at home, he reached for the next best thing—jicama—and his signature dessert was born. Light and fluffy, these delicate, sweet, and starchy pancakes pair beautifully with purple tomatillo sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. All accidents should turn out so well. 20 E. First St., Hinsdale; 630-920-8077 [$9.50]

CRAB CAKES (also in entrée portions)
Sam & Harry’s
A world better than at most steak houses, these thick, crabby crab cakes are held together with aïoli—no filler—and served with sharp and addictive lemon tartar sauce. They come in appetizer and entrée portions, and you might be tempted to order both. Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, 1551 N. Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg; 847-303-4050 [$14/appetizer; $28/entrée]

Sapori Trattoria
Six gorgeous, rustic, hand-formed pasta packets, bursting with lighter-than-air pumpkin filling, would likely taste delish on their own. Throw in fried sage leaves, sautéed pine nuts, and a dice of cara-melized squash on a plate awash in burnt butter sauce and accept the fact that you have no willpower. 2701 N. Halsted St.; 773-832-9999 [$17]

Sarah’s Pastries & Candies
Big squares of sweet—but not too sweet—chewy goodness move toffee out of the candy case and onto the cookie plate. They come plain or tantalizingly half dipped in chocolate. Do what you want, but there’s really no contest. 70 E. Oak St.; 312-664-6223 [$16/pound]


Plate from CB2




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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