Derek Richmond
42 Grams
Tete Charcuterie
Kari Skaflen/Hogsalt
Sean Cooley
Osteria Lange
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1. Parachute 3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

From Chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim, Parachute takes a soulful American approach to Korean cuisine. The husband-and-wife team cranks out innovative dishes like boudin noir with kohlrabi, apples, and seedy salad; dolsot bibimbap whose ever-changing toppings range from tuna and n’duja to short rib and foie gras; and salt & pepper ribs with a yuzu-chili pepper glaze. The family-style Avondale restaurant is drawing diners en masse, and the 40-seat dining room has a lofty list of reservation hopefuls vying for a table in the intimate space. Start with an order (probably two though, to be safe) of the addictive baked potato bing bread, made with bacon, scallions, and sour cream butter.

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2. Dove's Luncheonette 1545 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

One Off Hospitality's 41-seat counter service restaurant pushes Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine like chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, smoked brisket taco Norteño, and chili con carne, along with craft cocktails and tequila galore.

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3. Momotaro 820 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607

Momotaro is Fulton Market’s 11,000sqft, three-story, high-end Japanese restaurant from Boka Restaurant Group. And it should come as no surprise that the menu, like the restaurant itself, is enormous: it is a daunting multiple-page list with myriad options (order with purpose) and obscure ingredients (pay attention, heed your server’s advice, and keep your smartphone handy). There are a dozen categories to navigate, among them Kushi Yaki, Rice and Noodles, Nigirizushi, Makimono, and Donburi Bowls. Decisions are best made over cocktails (or sake, wine, or Japanese whiskey), which are available both in the dining room and at Izakaya Lounge, the subterranean late-night bar below the restaurant. Momotaro is a destination for an immersive, modern Japanese experience; go hungry, choose wisely.

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4. 42 Grams 4662 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

Alexa Walsh gathers eight dinner guests around 42 Grams' kitchen counter (there's a slightly large, conventional table as well) to begin each experience, detailing what diners are about to eat. Her husband, chef/owner Jake Bickelhaupt, and a few other chefs then plate up something astonishing. It might be tea-smoked salmon, a porky barley porridge, or Wagyu beef with Japanese accents. It might come in a spoon or a bowl, or on a stick. Whatever it is, the cumulative effect of the 14-course BYO tasting menu is like being in the owners' living room (they actually live upstairs) with a better spread than any dinner party you've ever been to.

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5. TĂŠTE Charcuterie 1114 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

TĂŠTE has that something extra -- actually, multiple somethings extra. There's a dedication to making sure all the selections -- peppery coppa, rich fromage de tĂŞte, silky duck rillette -- are all given the proper attention. There're also international encased meats from French boudin blanc to Moroccan merguez that'll push you further toward your meat coma, plus dishes like Peking duck with white miso and rutabaga mostarda that don't seem to really fit the concept, but are too tasty for anyone to get upset.

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6. Salero 621 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

With modern takes on traditional staples like roasted beef short ribs, seas bass and potatoes a la plancha (translation: pan fried), and grilled flat iron steaks, Salero is a little piece of Spain right in the Chicago's West Loop. Helmed by Chef Ashlee Aubin, this stylish restaurant and bar avoids the trend factor of tapas and sticks to starts and main courses, so for once you won't have to feel the selfish guilt that one can only get when refusing to share their sweetbread.

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7. Green Street Smoked Meats 112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

Down an alley off Restaurant Row, Green Street serves Texas-style smokehouse barbecue in a spacious, warehouse location. Like the smoked meats, the restaurant decor is reminiscent of the Lone Star State with exposed brick and iron pipe fixtures. The pulled pork and brisket are the way to go, especially with sides like spicy pickles and coleslaw. In a departure from the Texan recipes that rule the smoker, the beer selection is mostly made up of Midwestern craft brews, but there are Southern-inspired cocktails like bourbon sweet tea.

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8. High Five Ramen 112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

Brought to you by Brendan Sodikoff, this West Loop resto is a cozy, dimly-lit space offering a concise menu featuring both traditional and modern ramen offerings, eye-popping “canzillas” of Asahi beer, and boozy slushies to temper the heat of the noodles.

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9. The Roost Carolina Kitchen 1467 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613

If you're craving crispy fried chicken and mouth-watering chicken sammies, head to Lakeview. Head to The Roost, a food truck with a permanent BYOB storefront on Irving Park Road, for Carolina-style recipes like crispy, spicy fried chicken on a flaky buttermilk biscuit topped with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese. Heat things up even more by ordering the Nashville Hot, Habanero BBQ, or Buffalo variations. Creamy mac and cheese and sweet peach cobbler round out the feast.

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10. Bohemian House 11 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654

This River North spot is an ode to Bohemian culture in all its manifestations, with rustic-meets-glam décor and eclectic fare that’s rooted in Central Europe. The menu, created and executed by Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, features small plates like salt and vinegar chips and knackwurst in a blanket, large plates like spatzel and skirt steak, and unforgettable sweets like caramelized plum kolacky and an inventive take on coffee and donuts with hazelnut brittle.

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11. Osteria Langhe 2824 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

This Logan Square spot seamlessly blends slow food (literally, there's snail confit) with fine wines, all while transporting you to the northern Italian countryside. Expect rich dishes like prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin and hand-pinched ravioli tossed with Parmesan, thyme, and butter. You'll want to grab a table in the Giardino Segreto ("secret garden" in Italian), but heads up: you'll need a reservation to dine on this lovely patio, so be sure to plan ahead.

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12. mfk. 432 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614

This seafood-focused restaurant transports you to a coastal Spanish fishing village with its simple, rustic dishes. Small plates range from light Cantabrian salt-cured anchovies served atop butter bread, to hearty, deep-fried manchego and speck-stuffed croquettes with a roast garlic aioli for dipping. And with the kitchen open to midnight on Friday and Saturday, you can treat yourself to a true Spanish-style dinner.