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9. Esmé

When Jenner Tomaska, the former Next executive chef, ventured out to open his own restaurant with his wife, Katrina Bravo, smart diners knew it was worth booking immediately. The airy and arty restaurant is an extension of the bright and savvy couple and pushes the boundaries of what to expect from fine dining. Tomaska’s tasting … Read more

10. Evette’s

If you’ve downed tacos al pastor or traveled to Puebla for tacos árabes, you’ve tasted how delicious Middle Eastern influences on Mexican cuisine can be. Mitchell AbouJamra pushes that fusion into new directions at Evette’s, the easygoing counter-service spot he named for his Lebanese grandmother. Take the Halloumi tacos, which pack grilled cheese, jalapeño tabbouleh, … Read more

11. Elina’s

Red sauce joints have been opening left and right in Chicago, and there are exactly zero questions why. After the two years we’ve had, who doesn’t need to face-plant into a bowl of rigatoni with vodka sauce or inhale a massive chicken Parm? Elina’s, a sliver of a storefront on an old-school Italian stretch in … Read more

12. Mama Delia

The drama begins with a bright pink exterior and fern-bedecked patio and extends into the striking marble bar that’s curved around the wine-and-conservas-loaded shelves of a 112-year-old pharmacy shipped over from Belgium. Whew! Bonhomme Group’s tapas bar is, with all due respect, a little bit extra. The vibe is undoubtedly over the top, but the … Read more

13. Tengoku Aburiya

The tiny sushi bar Omakase Yume is good for a splurge, but its sister restaurant next door is the one you’ll want to put into regular rotation. If you’ve heard the term “izakaya” bandied about, this is the real deal. First, you drink, perhaps a fizzy, lightly sweetened Japanese cocktail such as chuhai or a … Read more

14. Taqueria Chingón

This project from a trio of friends with upscale dining credentials is like an experimental taco development lab. Thick housemade tortillas cradle everything from blood sausage, pickled red onions, and apples to honey-glazed delicata squash with goat cheese crema and salsa macha. The daily specials really run the gamut, with such creations as a banh … Read more