Potato Skin-Breaded Queso Balls Will Make All Other Apps Obsolete
This Evanston restaurant is the work of Amy Morton (daughter of Chicago restaurant legend, Arnie Morton), and Chef Nicole Pederson (Lula Cafe). One of the featured dinner plates is the twice-fried chicken wings with honey, lemon, and smoked chilies. The bright and acidic coating boasts strong hints of orange, while the twice-fried method ensures an exceptionally crispy exterior, and juicy meat interior.
While incredible seafood is certainly the specialty at Joe’s, don’t overlook their signature fried chicken. Available for lunch, dinner, and carry out, the heaping pile of fried pieces is worth digging into. No sides, no problem. Go straight for the hot and non-greasy pieces as an appetizer or pairing for those delicious crab claws or seafood salad, because life is all about balance.
Food is far from an afterthought at this Lakeview brewpub. DryHop’s menu is inspired by their craft beers and includes a juicy buttermilk fried chicken sandwich. The thick chicken breast is topped with white cheddar pimento cheese, sweet pickles, and slaw, sandwiched between a soft bun. Each bite packs a punch of balanced flavors. You can also enjoy this sandwich during late-night hours, often a necessity after a few pints of their Shark Meets Hipster Wheat IPA.
While Au Cheval undoubtedly produces one of Chicago’s favorite burgers, their fried chicken is worth making extra stomach space. General Jane’s honey-fried chicken is their take on a General Tso's style with several large pieces of juicy chicken coated in a sweet and spicy red chili and honey sauce. Each bite has a delicate balance of heat and sweet, while the cilantro on top helps temper the intensity from strings of red chili studded throughout.
This Andersonville spot is known for double- and triple-decker burgers dripping with toppings, but another dish worthy of your tastebuds is their half-fried chicken. The lightly fried pieces are served with a hefty helping of mashed potatoes topped with bacon gravy, because everything’s better with bacon gravy.
Seven Lions offers a Southern fried chicken sandwich for lunch and brunch. The hefty portion of chicken is topped with buttermilk dressing, lettuce, and sweet pickles squeezed between a biscuit bun. Yes, a biscuit bun. If you’re feeling bold, add a kick with a dollop of their house-made Buffalo sauce.
Fried chicken for an appetizer? Why not. Prime & Provisions is a steakhouse at heart, but their fried chicken dish makes for a worthy start to your meal. Each thick and juicy piece is extra crunchy and served with a chili-infused bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup for dipping or drizzling on top. Not ready to commit to a full plate? You can also order a half portion. Although you may regret it later.
MAD Social offers a new take on fried chicken and waffles, replacing standard waffle batter with churro batter. The pressed churro waffle is topped with thin and crisp chicken breast milanese, a layer of thick pork belly, and house hot sauce and maple syrup for your drizzling pleasure. It’s a little sweet and a little spicy and why didn’t someone think of this combo sooner?
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1. Found Kitchen & Social House1621 Chicago Ave, Evanston
2. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab60 E Grand Ave, Chicago
3. Dryhop Brewers3155 N Broadway St, Chicago
4. Au Cheval800 W Randolph, Chicago
5. Little Bad Wolf1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago
6. Seven Lions130 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
7. Prime & Provisions222 N La Salle St, Chicago
8. MAD Social1140 W Madison St, Chicago
Helmed by Chef Nicole Pederson (Lula Cafe), Found serves a seasonal American menu in a space inspired by 1920s Paris. The kitchen serves a so-called "flexitarian" menu, so expect a mix of meat and vegetable dishes, like fried cauliflower with Indian spices and twice-fried chicken wings with honey, lemon, and smoked chilies.
At the Chicago offshoot of the Miami-based Joe's Stone Crab, jumbo Alaskan king crab legs, oysters on the half shell, and shrimp & scallop ceviche are all on the menu. Although the seafood is incredible, don't overlook the steak -- or the fried chicken. Joe's has an Art Deco vibe that fits with its Miami roots, and the interior is power lunch-meets-steakhouse with black leather chairs and wood-accented walls.
Dryhop Brewers is more than just a brewery; it's complete pub with great food like bacon-wrapped scallops, skillet mac & cheese, and buttermilk fried chicken. Brewmaster Brant Dubovick has brewed more than 150 in-house beers since the Lakeview spot opened in 2013, and the styles range from seasonal IPAs to traditional Belgian farmhouse ales.
This upscale West Loop restaurant is known for its European flair and sophisticated American diner-style eats. Au Cheval usually has a wait out the door at peak dinner hours because it's home to iconic signature items like the fried house-made bologna sandwich and the so-called single burger, which actually comes with two thin patties and is topped with American cheese, house Dijonnaise, pickles, and if you know what's good for you, the optional bacon and fried egg add-ons. The brasserie-like space includes an open kitchen and a bar where local, domestic, and international beers are all on tap.
The owners of Burger Philosophy totally reconceptualized their Andersonville storefront back in 2014. The result is Little Bad Wolf, a barstaurant with excellent draft beer and whiskey lists, plus next-level bar food. The original restaurant's beloved Bad Burger -- stacked with two patties, American cheese, and house-made pickles -- is still on the menu, as are tacos and steamed buns. There's more substantial comfort food too, like a half fried chicken with mashed potatoes and mac & cheese with honey-cured bacon.
Elegant yet approachable, this new American clubhouse concept from Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (The Boarding House) is exactly what its Michigan Ave space called for. Chef Chris Curren’s menu is equal parts accessible and inspired, with starters ranging from fried chicken skins and pickles paired with sriracha mustard to Brussels sprout and burrata toast. Entrées run the gamut from comforting short ribs to perfectly flaky black cod with acorn squash, ricotta gnocchi, and Maitake mushrooms. And don't worry, there's alcohol, starting with Singh’s curated list of all-American wines.
This luxe steakhouse spares no expense with its marbles bars, cigar patio, shell fish towers, and prime meats. For a truly memorable meal that doesn't stick to the confines of beef, try the thick-cut bacon cooked with black pepper, Michigan maple syrup, and dark chocolate, and the fried chicken appetizer.
If you're looking for a restaurant to impress friends, get drinks with co-workers, or take a hot date, West Loop's Mad Social should be at the top of your list. The menu features a serious selection of cured meats and cheeses, so assemble your charcuterie plate and settle into one of the leather banquettes with a vodka cocktail. The real stunner is the burger, stacked high with crispy onion rings and served with deliciously greasy fries because honestly, why choose one side?