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Swift & Sons

Beef Wellington Photos: Jason Little and Nick Murway   Swift & Sons 1000 West Fulton Market West Loop Steakhouse $$$$$ It’s not a stretch to call this gleaming, neo-retro West Loop steakhouse from Boka Restaurant Group magical. As in: There’s an actual magician who can be summoned to your table and reel off mind-blowing card … Read more

Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

From left: steamed pork-and-leek dumplings; beef skewers; fried chicken-and-cabbage dumplings; shrimp skewers Photo: Jeff Marini   Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings 2002 South Wentworth Avenue Chinatown Chinese $ Dumplings, as far as the eye can see. The several dozen varieties on offer at this sleek Chinatown destination are a beautiful sight indeed. QXY grew out of … Read more

Kitsune

Aged kombu-cured ribeye Photos: Jeff Marini   Kitsune 4229 North Lincoln Avenue North Center Japanese $$$ Everything about Iliana Regan’s ode to Japanese cuisine is adorable: the cheery servers, the bunny-shaped ceramic chopstick holders, the giant mural of a fox in the bathroom. But don’t let the precious touches fool you. Kitsune plumbs previously uncharted … Read more

Au Cheval

Double cheeseburger Photo: Martha Williams   Au Cheval 800 West Randolph Street West Loop American $$ What more is there to say beyond just, “Eat the burger”? Seriously. That burger. No wonder that it has launched a thousand imitators, or that it has caused the hostess to quote you a five-hour wait that ends up … Read more

Taxim

Aginares me koukia Photos: Jeff Marini 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 … Read more

Parachute

Scallops Photos: Jeff Marini   Parachute 3500 North Elston Avenue Avondale Korean contemporary $$$ Fusion is no longer a dirty word in the able hands of husband-wife chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, who marry unlikely ingredients to create a one-of-a-kind Korean-American culinary hybrid. Think plates of bing bread (a riff on a potato loaf, … Read more

Smoque

St. Louis–style ribs Photos: Jeff Marini When Smoque opened in 2006 and people heard that the five partners—barbecue neophytes, all—had published a 2,000-word barbecue “manifesto” on their website, the knives came out. If you waltz into the notoriously competitive and persnickety ’cue subculture with a bunch of fancy talk, you’d better bring the heat. Smoque … Read more

Boeufhaus

From left: ham salad; roasted summer squash; 35-day dry-aged ribeye; mustard spaetzle Photo: Nick Murway Let Boeufhaus parade itself as a refined French brasserie with a German accent all it wants. This unassuming Humboldt Park spot is, at heart, a straight-up classic steakhouse. Opening their restaurant far from the downtown big-spender shrines, Brian Ahern and Jamie Finnegan … Read more

The Purple Pig

Salt-roasted beets Photos: Jeff Marini   The Purple Pig 500 North Michigan Avenue River North Mediterranean $$$ Spend enough time on Michigan Avenue and you realize just how special the Purple Pig actually is. Here, tucked between a Corner Bakery and a Bank of America in the center of the city’s tourist vortex, is a … Read more

Rainbow Thai

Drunken noodles with chicken Photos: Jeff Marini   Rainbow Thai 4825 North Western Avenue Lincoln Square Thai $$ In a city with a Thai joint seemingly on every corner, true gems can be hard to find. Rainbow, a perky BYO on an unremarkable commercial strip of Western Avenue, is decidedly one of them. Go beyond … Read more