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MFK

When a chef leaves a restaurant in its first year, eyebrows usually shoot up. Whispers echo. Biases harden. But when Joey Schwab replaced departing executive chef Nick Lacasse in February, the event barely qualified as a hiccup. Nothing has dimmed the bright flavors emerging from this little slice of the Mediterranean or the enthusiasm of … Read more

Salero

  Salero West Loop 621 W. Randolph St. 312-466-1000 Website Spanish $50 to $60 Executive chef–partner: Ashlee Aubin Most people think of Basque cuisine as a freeform party, every fork vying for the same plate of serrano and Manchego, sweating glasses of sangría constantly being refilled, cost be damned. Owner Franco Gianni (Tank Sushi, Wood) … Read more

Intro

  Intro Lincoln Park 2300 N. Lincoln Park West 773-868-0002 Website American $65 to $95 Current chef: CJ Jacobson If dinner can be compared to theater, think of Intro as a can’t-miss limited engagement. Rich Melman took the space that formerly housed L2O, the restaurateur’s seafood jewel, and turned it into a showcase for young … Read more

RPM Steak

  RPM Steak River North 66 W. Kinzie St. 312-284-4990 Website Steak house $60 to $65 Chef: Doug Psaltis “You’re here to spend money and enjoy yourself,” our waitress told us shortly after we sat down. Crass? Perhaps. True? Definitely. Lettuce Entertain You’s glam steak house, like the best of the genre, revels in conspicuous … Read more

Community Tavern

  Community Tavern Portage Park 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-283-6080 Website American $35 to $45 Executive chef-partner: Joey Beato Between entrepreneur Quay Tao’s restaurant savvy (Portage) and Joey Beato’s kitchen smarts, this neighborhood boutique steak house scores as a blast from the past with a modern edge. With birdcage chandeliers over its cozy 35-seat bar, … Read more

Boltwood

  Boltwood 804 Davis St., Evanston 847-859-2880 Website Dining Guide listing American $30 to $35 Chef-owner: Brian Huston You may eat at this seasonal restaurant in downtown Evanston and immediately forget everything about the room. It’s minimal and communal and, apart from the noise, pretty unremarkable. But you won’t soon forget Brian Huston’s food—as satisfying … Read more

Dove's Luncheonette

  Dove’s Luncheonette Wicker Park 1545 N. Damen Ave. 773-645-4060 Website Mexican soul food $12 to $20 Chef de cuisine: Dennis Bernard Chef-driven diners exploded onto the scene in 2012, and since then two—Au Cheval and Little Goat Diner—have made this annual list. And now One Off Hospitality Group (Violet Hour, Big Star) has opened … Read more

Tête Charcuterie

  Tête Charcuterie West Loop 1114 W. Randolph St. 312-733-1178 Website Charcuterie $30 to $40 Chef-partners: Kurt Guzowski and Thomas Rice Anyone can do charcuterie. Tête, though, inhabits a world where animal parts aren’t some trendy abstraction—they’re the main currency. In sight of diners, Kurt Guzowski and Thomas Rice’s team cures meats and makes sausages … Read more