694 Vernon, Glencoe. 847-835-8100
Contemporary American. Guildhall’s new executive chef, Bradford Phillips (Unite Urban Grill, LM Restaurant Group), has a knack for keeping the check averages low and the quality of his offerings impressively high. Expect approachable contemporary American favorites dappled with interesting surprises—perhaps a goat cheese croquette set in a red pepper jam with semisweet orange segments or a suckling pig served with swirls of sweet onion purée and a sweet-and-sour pork jus. The signature tarte flambée forestière with wild mushrooms, bacon, crème fraîche, and onions remains a must-have, and Guildhall’s sophisticated dining room, flush with rustic woods and sparkling chandeliers, as well as its friendly, knowledgeable staff make it a worthy destination for locals and city dwellers alike.
D nightly. Br Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$$$
432 W. Diversey, Lake View. 773-857-2540
Mediterranean. This sunny little slice of Spain, courtesy of Scott Worsham and Sari Zernich Worsham, gets so much right it almost looks effortless. Executive chef Nick Lacasse’s menu emphasizes simplicity—as in Cantabrian salt-cured anchovies with buttered bread and crunchy prawn heads with salbitxada (a thick yellow Catalan sauce similar to romesco). And when Lacasse gets ambitious, as he does in a wonderful throwback chicken ballotine with a center of unctuous forcemeat, big flavors pop all over the place. The lively staff and endlessly creative cocktails charge the tiny room with irresistible enthusiasm.
L Tue-Sun, D nightly. Will seat past 11 p.m. $$$
1359 W. Taylor, Little Italy. 312-226-5550
Italian. Scott Harris breaks the Taylor Street mold for Italian with an enjoyable array of tasting dishes to satisfy almost any craving, as well as chewy-crusted pizzas, such as a beaut with mushrooms, braised leeks, and Taleggio. Build your own platter from abundant options of meats from West Loop Salumi and Italian cheeses. When available, the cauliflower steak and chickpeas with Sicilian olive tapenade and lemon jam wins the vegan antipasto prize. Linguine with sea urchin and crab takes honors among pastas. Big main-course plates can veer off-track, but torta bacio—chocolate-hazelnut mousse with cocoa nibs—provides a solid, sweet landing. Bottles of wine for retail sale; Negroni on tap. Slightly different menu at the River North location (30 E. Hubbard, 312-605-5900).
L & D daily. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining, high noise level, will seat past 11 p.m. (Fri, Sat). $$
1800 N. Lincoln, Lincoln Park. 312-981-7070
American. Paul Virant, a.k.a. Mr. Preservation, attached his name to the preexisting Perennial, and his style now bursts from every corner of the room. Pickles, jams, or preserves appear in most dishes, lending palpable freshness and tartness. Radical seasonality and artisanal touches such as charcuterie and forcemeats further define the restaurant’s au courant character, showing earth’s continually renewing bounty (sometimes via the larder) and Virant’s unmistakable stamp. The name may look odd, but it describes the place to a T.
B Mon-Fri, D nightly. Br Sat, Sun. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$$$