3124 N. Broadway. Lake View. 773-922-4020
Italian. Sicilian-born Giuseppe Scurato grabs you by the palate and never lets go as he sends out inspired takes on regional Italian in his handsome and enlarged new Ceres’ location. The dishes are designed for sharing and sampling over Italian-accented cocktails and compelling Italian wines, from terrific chewy pizzas out of the wood-burning oven to platters of artisanal salumi and formaggi to crudo, antipasti, and pastas. Sweet deep-water Royal Red shrimp cured in lemon oil and served with grilled fennel and bottarga (salted pressed fish roe); saffron rice balls (arancine) filled with artichokes and Taleggio with basil aïoli and tomato sauce; and hand-rolled pici pasta with spicy sausage all warrant your attention. If one of the spot-on servers recommends a salted caramel budino with chocolate biscotti, take heed.
D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
1001 N. Winchester. Ukrainian Village. 773-698-8703
American. Simplicity reigns at this sun-drenched corner café, where an ultra-laid-back staff rolls out the welcome mat morning, noon, and night. The day breaks with Metric espresso and warm grain cereal crowned with seasonal fruit; afternoon leads to neighbors lingering with laptops, munching fennel-tinged smoked trout sandwiches and sipping Seasons fruit sodas; and nightfall means bowls of bucatini with fork-tender meatballs. There’s even reason to drop in for a nightcap, thanks to well-executed cocktails enlisting the aforementioned coffee and sodas. Consider this your new neighborhood go-to—even if it means commuting across town to get here.
B & L Mon–Fri, D Mon–Sat. Br Sat, Sun. Child friendly, outdoor dining. $$
The Lobby at the Peninsula
108 E. Superior. Gold Coast. 312-337-2888
Contemporary. In the soaring cathedral-like main dining room—an orchid-embossed oasis brimming with an air of opulence—you can enjoy one of the city’s last remaining fine-dining experiences. Seth Moliterno’s menu mostly succeeds in breathing new life into old hotel classics. Try the pan-seared filet of loup de mer blanketed with a bright carrot purée and nuanced matelote sauce or the crispy veal breast set in a brothy blanquette de veau. But some offerings—such as the pasta carbonara and a pallid roast chicken—feel a bit rudimentary. Surprisingly, service standards have slipped, but the dessert list proves to be a stunning affair, including a clever take on a crème fraîche pound cake and a downright inspired passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate ice cream.
B, L & D daily. Br Sun. Tea service daily. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly. $$$$
Morton’s the Steakhouse
Newberry Plaza, 1050 N. State. Gold Coast. 312-266-4820
Steaks, seafood. Despite selling out in 2012 to Landry’s, a giant Houston-based restaurant group, Morton’s has not changed. That’s the best possible outcome for the flagship of this celebrated meat paradise, which has retained all the elements that made it a local (and international) legend: the rich wood decor, no-nonsense service, warm onion bread loaves, and, of course, broiled wet-aged Midwestern grain-fed beef. The porterhouse, a gorgeous and almost creamy 24 ounces, is a perfect example of the kind of charred-tender steak that so many Chicagoans favor. Appetizers and sides get equal attention, such as garlic-kissed Shrimp Alexander or impossibly buttery mashed potatoes. Even if you sit at the bar with a blunt cocktail and a silky slice of Key lime pie, you’ll get why Morton’s is still a tradition. (See mortons.com for all locations.)
D nightly. Wheelchair accessible, child friendly. $$$$