WHERE: Orange (3231 N. Clark St.;773-549-4400)
At this laid-back brunch spot, four stacks of three-inch silver dollar pancakes ($10.95) come prepared in themes that change every week. Recent favorites range from dessert-y (Ben & Jerry’s flavors, cookie types) to whimsical (baseball stadiums, Tom Hanks movies). Don’t count on Sleepless in Seattle pancakes anytime soon, though; Orange’s chefs have cooked up more than 1,000 varieties of flights in the restaurant’s seven years—and they rarely repeat.
WHERE: Molly’s Cupcakes (2536 N. Clark St.; 773-883-7220)
This sweet Lincoln Park bakery boasts four tasty bite-size options: carrot cake, chocolate, red velvet, and vanilla ($1 each), all of which can be enjoyed from swing seats at the bakery’s counter.
WHERE: Minnies (1969 N. Halsted St.; 312-943-9900)
A whole restaurant of mini food, this sandwich-centric locale takes the mini concept to ridiculous extremes. Most of the 22 sandwiches ($8.75 for three) are heavy on the bread ratio, but where else can you drink three beers in less than 20 minutes and not be called a drunk?
WHAT: Egg rolls
WHERE: Cozy Noodles and Rice (1018 Davis St., Evanston; 847-733-0101)
These thumb-size beauties look like the real thing, but inside, they’re more like a dumpling: minced chicken and shrimp mixed with black mushroom and bean thread (six for $3.95). Enjoy against the funky backdrop display of Pez dispensers, vintage lunchboxes, and license plates that line the upbeat yellow walls.
WHERE: Maíz (1041 N. California Ave.; 773-276-3149)
Carlos Reyna’s Humboldt Park restaurant offers a platter of mini quesadillas, empanadas, taquitos, moletes de tingo, and picaditas ($17.50) as authentic as any in Chicago. You can almost make a two-person meal of it, or get any of the mini components as an individual appetizer ($4.75 to $8.75).
WHERE: English (444 N. LaSalle St.; 312-222-6200)
This noisy gastropub’s ambitious mini burgers—Angus beef, filet mignon, and crab cake, to name a few ($2 to $4)—rise above the masses of sliders in Chicago. For a full meal, order three, especially the goat-cheese-topped turkey burger and the juicy, slightly spicy shredded pork burger.
WHERE: Goose Island Brew Pub (1800 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-915-0071)
Chicago’s top microbrewery has long offered four-beer flights ($8): five-ounce pours from any of the spot’s dozen draft choices. After a few of these, don’t get on Molly’s swings. . . .
Photography: Anna Knott