Price point: $7.50 for the chicken and waffle sandwich
Perhaps the highest compliment to pay to Berrista Coffee, chef Homaro Cantu's latest project in Old Irving Park (4219 West Irving Park Road, 312-491-3366), is that you don't need to know anything before visiting. Sure, it might help to know that Cantu's serving a range of pastries and sodas best enjoyed with a Miracle Berry—a West African fruit that makes sour foods taste sweet—and that he hopes this miraculous berry can help people wean from too much sugar. But really, the chicken and waffle sandwich is great whether you decide to pop the pill or not.
While normally an excuse to go heavy, Berrista's chicken and waffle sandwich instead brings a welcome balance. The chicken is freshly fried, resulting in juicy meat and an ultra crispy exterior. But the real secret is the light and greaseless waffle. The sourdough batter is tangy, and thanks to scallions mixed in, each bite tastes like a Chinese scallion pancake.
This is a decidedly savory take on the sandwich. That is, until you decide to drop a Miracle Berry, and then suddenly the thick sauce served on the side transforms into something very close to maple syrup. Considering the stuff doesn’t actually have any sugar in it, drench the remainder of the sandwich until it's completely coated and dig in with abandon.