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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Mexican food lovers know that Geno Bahena is the mole master, but even he rarely puts the classic sauce together with salmon. This time, Bahena figured out a prep that works: Garlic-marinated king salmon takes on a scintillating green mole made from tomatillos, cilantro, epazote, chile serrano, and pumpkinseeds, and we predict the outcome will stand the test of time. 2558 N. Halsted St.; 773-472-7419 [$17]

Begin with the minted zucchini and carrot salad and make your way around this platter of unique and fresh bites: sweet peppers, eggplant, mozzarella di bufala with pesto, hard-boiled eggs, and salami specially smoked for the restaurant by Paulina Market. When served with crostini and your choice of wine (Terragusto is BYO), you’ll forget you’ve ordered an entrée. 1851 W. Addison St.; 773-248-2777 [$24] 

Tin Fish
Colin Turner paves a crispy potato crust with smoked salmon and sour cream, throws on capers and red onion to doll it up, and calls it pizza. He can name it anything he wants, as long as we can find it on the menu. 18201 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park; 708-532-0200 [$9]

Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood
This whopping 40-ounce dry-aged rib eye for two has a heavy, protruding footlong bone; hence, the name. The meat comes as seven juicy, beautifully marbled slices (who gets dibs on the seventh slice?) seasoned with Tramonto’s signature sea salts, toasted black pepper, and butter. There’s also an option of French sauces but, really, who needs one? Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling; 847-777-6575 [$75]

Trattoria 225
Not every pizza here hits the mark. But there’s nothing not to like about this brick-oven pie, from the lightly scorched organic whole-wheat crust to the thinly sliced rounds of pancetta and the pile of fresh arugula in the middle. If every neighborhood had a pizza like this, the world would be a better place. 225 Harrison St., Oak Park; 708-358-8555 [$13] 

Fruit soups appear as often as flourless chocolate cakes these days, but Gale Gand’s pineapple rum soup inhabits a higher plane. It delivers the brightness of a fine tropical cocktail but with far more finesse, and its passion fruit and mango gelée soothes the chilled soup while a scoop of pink peppercorn-pineapple sherbet adds rich nuance. 676 N. St. Clair St.; 312-202-0001 [$15; $95 three-course menu]

Freshly baked twice daily in their kitchen, warm, fragrant slabs of Turkish pide greet customers seconds after they sit down at this stylish Roscoe Village retreat. It’s hard to resist downing the entire basketful before drinks even show up. Crusty, chewy, and seasoned with salt, this bread tastes dandy unadorned—and irresistible when dipped into a pool of the smooth, earthy house-made hummus. 2147 W. Roscoe St.; 773-549-3523 [free]

This Cypriot take on mac and cheese is cooked to order just as soon as a customer gives the go-ahead. Extra-long tubular noodles, bits of tomato, and Asiago cheese are layered atop clusters of nutmeg- and cinnamon-scented ground beef. Capping it all  is a blanket of browned and blistered béchamel custard sauce. Formidably rich, yes, but oh, so worth it. And it’s great reheated the next day. 820 W. Jackson Blvd.; 312-714-1001 [$15] 

If you doubt that Latino and Indian should fuse, then dig into this luscious chop boasting complex yet restrained spiciness. The nut-crusted veal chop is roasted in hierbos de olor (fragrant Latino herbs) and served on channa saag (masala-seasoned spinach mixed with garbanzos) with a side of chickpea flour-coated chaat onion rings. 10 W. Hubbard St.; 312-527-4060 [$29]

Bronzed from the house-made beer jam glaze and surprisingly tender, Vie’s wood-grilled quail lies invitingly on a bed of wilted, shredded white cabbage. Even better, it’s accompanied by grape-size marinated white turnips and melted Pleasant Ridge Reserve aged Gruyère, a single-herd cow’s milk cheese—a dazzling combo of refined and earthy flavors. 4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs; 708-246-2082 [$14]

West Town Tavern
It may be light on the pasta, but you won’t miss it on this autumnal dish: It comes loaded with perfectly cooked fall mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, and generous meatballs. Tarragon seasons the vegetables while shallots help flavor the turkey, and the unique addition of mint sends the taste buds soaring. It’s a dish you’ll want to cozy up to. 1329 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-666-6175 [$18.50] 

Winston’s Market
Sweet golden raisins and toasted almonds give texture and a traditional Mediterranean flair to this hearty side dish. Color, acidity, and spice come from tiny cubes of red onion and a slightly sweet red bell pepper, and minced herbs emphasize the freshness of the other ingredients. But it’s the dressing—a seamless blend of olive oil, sherry vinaigrette, and honey—that pushes the envelope. 3440 N. Southport Ave.; 773-327-6400 [$9/pound]

Yoshi’s Café
Yoshi’s chatty waiters bring out five uncooked beef brochettes, a mini hibachi with a blazing cooking stone, and an unnecessary side bowl of yuzu-ponzu dipping sauce. They instruct you to toss the beef on for 15 seconds, flip it over, and pop it in your mouth, still sizzling. The beef is not actual wagyu from Japan, but who cares? It’s tender, nicely salted, peppered, and oiled—and delicious. 3257 N. Halsted St.; 773-248-6160 [$20] 


A macadamia nut crust gives beautiful texture and a savory edge to this tender, sweet, and mild fish. Pineapple vinaigrette counters with a bit more sweetness and the perfect acidic tang, and a stunningly creative side of earthy hash from cubed taro root, sautéed to a crisp with delicate little rock shrimp carries this stellar entrée to the next level. It’s surf-and-turf to the highest degree. 419 W. Superior St.; 312-475-9112 [$28]


Prop Stylist: Jennifer Levant   Food Stylist: Janice Bell  Food Stylist Assistant: Lisa Kuhl  Hair and Makeup: Chelo  First Assistant: Kate Cole  Second Assistant: Popo  model: laura gleason/ford chicago



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)?

6 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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