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Tongue Tied? Chicago Chefs Put Spotlight on an Underrated Meat

All types of tongue get the star treatment on menus across the city.

Carpaccio at The Dearborn   Photo: Jeff Marini

Generations of immigrants have eaten tongue in tacos, deli sandwiches, and soups, and until recently this meat’s fan base has been mostly limited to those who grew up on it. But Chicago chefs have devised a slew of new ways to showcase tongue’s deep flavor and smooth texture.


Nico Osteria
This one-of-a-kind ragu—inspired by lengua tacos and duck sugo—is made by braising beef tongue and ground duck together in spiced wine, finished with a shot of sherry vinegar, and served atop ribbony mafalda pasta. $17. 1015 N. Rush St.


The Purple Pig
In a gloriously gonzo melting pot of flavors, caramelized pork tongue—poached in a sticky agrodolce and crisped like bacon—comes with Russian-style potato salad and an Italian tonnato sauce. $10. 500 N. Michigan Ave.


The Dearborn
Instead of leaning on carpaccio standbys like rémoulade and arugula, the Dearborn gilds deli-thin slices of beef tongue with a port reduction and a Midwest-inspired apple-celery salad. $14. 145 N. Dearborn St.


Bohemian House
A smorgasbord of Eastern European delights in a housemade potato bun: Russian dressing, crispy braised beef tongue slices, bloomy, gooey garlic-crusted Camembert, sweet-and-sour cabbage, and scallions. $15 (lunch only). 11 W. Illinois St.


Momotaro’s Izakaya Lounge
By dressing corned wagyu beef tongue in a pickled-mustard vinaigrette and adding Maui onions, pickles, fried breadcrumbs, and eggplant mayo, chef Mark Hellyar infuses an Asian salad with the soul of a Reuben. $9. 820 W. Lake St.


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