In a city as diverse and sprawling as Chicago, there aren’t many restaurants that could rightly claim to have a corner of the market to itself. Taxim can. David Nikolaos Schneider’s Wicker Park lair pays highly focused tribute to the cooking of the Anatolian peninsula’s Greek diaspora. In doing so, it covers impressive ground, spanning Macedonia, Cyprus, and beyond—and he somehow brings it all together into one coherent, exuberant whole.
Most of us don’t have a frame of reference for, say, small plates of Politiki-style smoked mackerel, let alone wood-grilled caul-wrapped lamb offal with house-made yogurt and mint. But Schneider’s flavor instincts are spot-on, and his dedication both to local growers and to importing whole fish from Greece make the entire operation work with a familiar farm-to-table flair, even when the flavors are unfamiliar. The overall impression is both homey and heady, especially on a summer night among friends on the rooftop patio, a carafe of absinthe-like raki between you.