A lackluster stretch of Lincoln Avenue in Lake View just picked up a little steam with Chizakaya, a hip Japanese small-plate-and-pub combo. A beautiful staff, a drink list of shochu-laced cocktails, and original, shareable plates as delicious as they are attractive make this casual spot an exciting newcomer. We sat at a communal table overlooking the kitchen counter and ordered the Ume Ume, a flavor explosion of a cocktail made with sweet-potato shochu; skewered beef sirloin tips with dabs of wasabi; sweet sausage similar to Filipino longanisa; and fall-off-the-fork chicken sausage (pictured). All terrific. The rest of the menu looks promising, but if you’re searching for unagi maki, just keep walking. 3056 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-697-4725.
Photograph: Anna Knott