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Giant

Photos: Jeff Marini   Giant 3209 West Armitage Avenue Logan Square Contemporary $$$ If there were a statistic that measured PPSF—pleasure per square foot—Giant would be leading the league. Every inch of the narrow Logan Square storefront seems engineered for fun. A poster of a Shel Silverstein poem hangs on the wall, a Clash record … Read more

Kai Zan

Nigiri selection Photo: Jeff Marini   Kai Zan 2557 West Chicago Avenue Humboldt Park Japanese $$$$ You don’t come to Kai Zan for a spicy tuna roll. You come to Kai Zan to let brothers Melvin and Carlo Vizconde gently guide you through a rarefied sushi galaxy. For them, fish is a canvas for clever … Read more

Sepia

Clockwise from top: grilled squid with chorizo verde; masa agnolotti; roasted rabbit Photo: Jeff Marini Housing a print shop in the 1890s, Sepia’s glam, velvet-upholstered space matches the effortlessly stylish cooking of chef Andrew Zimmerman, who continues to guide his flagship spot with grace and confidence without ever seeming forced. The two-tops tend to be … Read more

S.K.Y.

Hamachi sashimi Photo: Jeff Marini   S.K.Y. 1239 West 18th Street Pilsen Korean contemporary $$$ It took chef Stephen Gillanders 30 tries to get the wrapper for his Maine lobster gyoza exactly the way he wanted it. The end result is sublime: wispy-thin wonton sheets that are somehow still sturdy enough to envelop hefty chunks … Read more

Elske

Soft scrambled eggs with confit chicken thigh Photos: Jeff Marini   Elske 1350 West Randolph Street West Loop Contemporary $$$$ Embrace the hygge. David and Anna Posey’s nouveau-Nordic fairy garden of a restaurant embodies this Danish concept of coziness. It’s like a well-worn sweater that also happens to be incredibly sculptural and chic. The place … Read more

Coalfire

Lasagna pizza Photo: Clint Blowers Freed from the tyranny of geographical purity—the pies here aren’t quite Neapolitan-style, or New York–style, or any single style at all, really—Coalfire is free to riff on any number of august pizza-making traditions.   Coalfire 1321 West Grand Avenue West Town Pizza $$     3707 North Sheffield Avenue Lake … Read more

RPM Steak

The 42-ounce Mishima tomahawk steak Photos: Nick Murway   RPM Steak 66 West Kinzie Street River North Steakhouse $$$$$ The options on this meat palace’s menu are so numerous that they can create temporary paralysis: Do you get the 90-day dry-aged ribeye? The three-ounce portion of wagyu? Béarnaise? Foie gras butter? Luckily, you can’t go … Read more

Roister

Rohan duck Photo: Jeff Marini Leave it to Grant Achatz to master both fine dining and chicken salad. At our top spot, Alinea, his food hits creative new heights, but at Roister, cozy treasures abound. Settle in at the kitchen counter, where, over a roaring open hearth, executive chef Andrew Brochu and his crew can … Read more

Big Jones

Fried chicken Photos: Jeff Marini Paul Fehribach has been a semifinalist for the James Beard awards five times, authored a scholarly American cookbook, is the creator of arguably the best fried chicken in Chicago, and may just serve the city’s finest brunch. It’s quite a résumé for the chef of a relaxed Southern restaurant in … Read more

Bellemore

Venison tartare Photo: Jeff Marini   Bellemore 564 West Randolph Street West Loop Contemporary $$$$ Jimmy Papadopoulos is the kind of chef who gets excited about a fridge full of dry-aging ducks. There’s one such appliance in the basement of Bellemore, one of the Boka Restaurant Group’s latest offerings, and Papadopoulos has used those ducks … Read more