Bison loin carpaccio Photo: Anna Knott

One of Chicago’s savviest restaurateurs, Bruce Sherman has built an estimable career of making American food that’s both brainy and fulfilling. His take on pork and beans, for example, consists of grilled tenderloin and boudin noir paired with smoked Mexican peruano beans and hakurei turnips and served with tomato-bacon jam to spread on mustard crumpets. Whether diners go with one of the daring tasting menus or the more approachable à la carte options, everything at North Pond is delivered with confidence.

It’s impossible to talk about this place without discussing the majestic setting. Like a chameleon with a Michelin star, the Arts-and-Crafts lodge-style building at the edge of the eponymous pond in Lincoln Park magically reflects all the best emotional sparks of each season. The warm crackle of the fireplace in January gives way to the gentle breeze from open French doors in August—with the city’s skyline beckoning from across the pond year-round. It’s a spot that seems divinely suited to Sherman’s vision, and it’s impossible not to be charmed.