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La Chaparrita

For the uninitiated, think of lengua, or beef tongue, as a secret second short rib: It’s all tenderness and fat, the perfect foil for a piquant salsa or two. Cesar Castillo, the remarkably chill taquero at this grocery-store counter joint, never overcooks the delicate meat, working with it on its own terms. Order extra.

RPM Steak

RPM knows what to do with a bone-in rib eye: dry-age it for 28 days, sear it until it develops a smoky char, then embellish it with nothing more than the granular crunch of gray sea salt. The waiter brings the meat with the bone intact like he’s working a dinner party for cavemen and … Read more

Dove’s Luncheonette

It sounds like a dish only a vegetarian could love, but even the staunchest of omnivores can fall under its spell. Atop a slice of James Beard Award winner Greg Wade’s multigrain bread is, yes, a salad’s worth of tousled greens, but there’s also a cavalcade of tempurafried tofu, slices of apple for a pop … Read more

Labriola

At his sprawling Mag Mile joint, self-made bread baron Rich Labriola turns out truly revelatory deep dish, possibly the first improvement on the form in a generation. The double-proofed, focaccia-style dough is lined with mozzarella and then browned to a crackly, caramelized crunch, yielding a crust more flavorful and nuanced than what the tourists queue … Read more

S.K.Y.

This dish has just about everything a bibimbap fan looks for: the superheated stone bowl with rice audibly sizzling inside, the plethora of vegetables, the sidecar of brick-red gochujang sauce. It also has a garnish no one would think to look for in this Korean one-bowl meal: a generous piece of seared foie gras. Resist … Read more

Duck Inn

More restaurants should have spinning rotisseries full of ducks in their kitchens. It’s Kevin Hickey’s calling card at his cozy, excess-relishing den. He roasts the breasts, then brines, air-dries, and slowroasts the rest of the bird, duck fat tumbling onto the bed of Yukon gold potatoes at the bottom of the oven, a glorious feast … Read more

Landbirds

Eddie Lee made a bold decision to try and one-up the legendary chicken lollipops at Albany Park’s Great Sea Restaurant. Be glad he did: This is twice-fried poultry that bests its predecessor, with exceptionally crispy skin glossed in a zingy sauce that makes the meat glisten like amber. Each order comes with a paper boat … Read more

Smyth

If ever there were a reason to do a tasting menu just for a dessert, this is it. Karen Urie Shields has found a way to transform a simple egg yolk into something mythical: curing it in salted licorice for 24 hours, then resting the unctuous orb on a cloud of frozen yogurt meringue, which … Read more

Edzo’s

You would think that a cheese-topped four-ounce beef patty, cooked until it’s a nebula of meat and cheddar, then stacked on a toasted bun, would be a total grease bomb. But Edzo’s owner Eddie Lakin has mastered the precarious engineering of a thin-patty burger: first, grinding his own beef daily for a precise meat-to-fat ratio, … Read more

Luella’s Gospel Bird

Think you’ve seen everything under the fried chicken sun? Darnell Reed begs to differ, lightly coating his fried chicken in a proprietary mix of Creole seasonings, Crystal hot sauce, and lots of melted butter. He calls it “gospel bird,” and it’s a firecracker of smoky, peppery flavor. We’re only too happy to spread the good … Read more