Jerrod and R.J. Melman at Hub 51

Hub 51
R. J. and Jerrod Melman may be the sons of Rich Melman, who has been on the scene for nearly 40 years, but their first restaurant cries out to a younger crowd. A weird mélange of sushi, Mexican, and American is ideal for the 20-something demographic, which R. J., 29, and Jerrod, 25, know well. "It’s the food that we like to go out to eat," Jerrod says. For starters, the brothers recommend ordering house-baked Idaho potato chips with crispy rosemary and sage and romesco sauce before moving on to filet mignon steak tacos; for dessert, a homemade ice-cream bar. Child’s play? The somber urban décor and massive bar imply otherwise. 51 W. Hubbard St.; 312-828-0051. –Becca Milfeld

Photograph: Kendall Karmanian



Café Orchid

Those who prefer their Turkish food straight, no belly dancer, will like the casual digs of Café Orchid. Strings of lights bedeck a small patio with tables overlooking the strip-mall parking lot; inside, there’s a takeout area and a small dining room. We found a lot to like on recent visits, starting with the impressive tomato-and-cucumber shepherd’s salad, fresh and sparkling with oil and lemon juice. Cig boerek was another fine appetizer—crunchy fried pockets of homemade dough stuffed with peppery ground lamb and onion and served with yogurt sauce. Among entrées, we were pleased with our iskender, a wild pile of doner (gyros meat—ground lamb and sliced veal) atop cubes of pan-fried bread, liberally doused with yogurt and a tomatoey sauce, and also with our Imam firin, baby eggplants stuffed with vegetables and pine nuts and paired with mozzarella and tomato sauce. But the star of the show was manti, tiny, tender handmade ravioli filled with spiced ground lamb and served with butter and yogurt sauce (tomato sauce is another option). We can easily imagine becoming addicted to these. Finish with small glasses of Turkish tea and a slab of silky custard. 1746 W. Addison St.; 773-327-3808. –Joanne Trestrail



Steve’s Deli

First of all, his name’s not Steve. Seth Herkowitz has imported a restaurant run by his godparents in suburban Detroit—a traditional kosher-style Jewish deli—for the Chicago market. This means classics such as lox, smoked fish, and matzo ball soup. In case your schedule doesn’t include a trip to the East Bank Club across the street, Steve’s even has a "lite" menu and a substantial salad contingent. But thanks to the deli’s carryout component, the overstuffed hot pastrami sandwich or any other guilty indulgence can remain your tasty little
secret. Whatever you do, just don’t ask for Steve. 354 W. Hubbard St.; 312-467-6868. –Becca Milfeld

Photography: Tyllie Barbosa; Food Styling: Christina Zerkis



"I don’t have a culinary title," says Carlos Gaytan, chef/owner of Mexique, a new French/Mex phenom in West Town. Could have fooled us. Gaytan’s trio of sopes brims with cross-cultural tidbits: shrimp provençale topped with avocado mousse, tender escargots bathed in chimichurri butter, mole-doused baked plantains. Tinga de pollo set on crispy tostaditas makes our taste buds tingle, as does a guajillo-rubbed, pan-seared tilapia. The enchilada dessert sounds lame, but two blintz-like bombs ooze with chocolate fudge that turns the vanilla bean ice cream on the side into something truly special. "I find a lot of pleasure in cooking," says Gaytan. We find a lot of pleasure in his cooking, too. 1529 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-850-0288. –Penny Pollack