1946 N. Leavitt St., 773-489-4895
Best date-night dinner: This unpretentious gem makes its own pasta (the gnocchi have a following), has a picturesque back dining area, and offers wines for any budget.


2246 W. North Ave., 773-384-7655
Best dessert destination: Giddiness ensues the moment you lay eyes on this cheery shop’s pastry case: M&M-flecked cookies, tarts oozing jam, and colossal chocolate chip raspberry muffins.

Big Star

1531 N. Damen Ave., 773-235-4039
Best late-night junk food: This culinary overachiever serves its al pastor, beer-battered tilapia, and roasted chicken tacos from the takeout window until 3 a.m. on Saturdays.