Newly anointed chef Matthew Kirkley takes an experimental approach to the “intricacies of fish and shellfish” at this home for food full of flourish and futurism.
Number of seats: 60 Average per-person check: $175 Popular dishes: Mussel tart with lemon and parsley; geoduck clam with manila clam and lime; striped tortellini with razor clam, garlic and zucchini; Maine lobster with foie gras torchon, turnip and clementine vinaigrette; stuffed quail with sunchoke, smoked cherry and 23-flavor gastrique What people come for: Unusual food presented creatively Address: 2300 N. Lincoln Park West Phone: 773-868-0002
This suburban outpost in a mall in Mount Prospect has caught the notice of Windy City denizens who trek outward for imaginative and decidedly contemporary takes on surf, turf, and realms beyond.
Number of seats: 180
Average per-person check: $40
Popular dishes: Chicken wings with Buddha dust, dried shrimp and sweet-and-spicy glaze; crispy Brussels sprouts and kale with minced shrimp, sweet chile vinaigrette, peppers and shallots; Malay-style sea bass with cauliflower potato purée and roasted tomatoes
What people come for: proudly idiosyncratic food in less-than-idiosyncratic surroundings
Address: 125 Randhurst Village Drive, Mount Prospect, Ill.
Chef Stefanie Izard’s contemporary take on the diner takes all that’s good about a greasy spoon and lifts it onto another plane.
Number of seats: 120
Average per-person check: $23
Popular dishes: Fat Elvis Waffles with banana, peanut butter-butter and bacon maple syrup; “Kimchee & Bacon & Eggs & Pancakes Asian Style Breakfast Tasty Thing;” Sloppy Joe with goat, rosemary slaw and squish squash roll; Hot Crab Dip with creamy cheesy lump crab and Ritz crackers
What people come for: Diner setting; Little Goat Bread next-door, with a coffee shop, deli, bakery, bar and retail
Address: 820 W. Randolph St.
Taking its name from a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, this Logan Square favorite takes a seasonal approach to ideas sourced from the Alpine climes of France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Slovenia.
Number of seats: 50
Average per-person check: $45
Popular dishes: Wanderteller plate (hiker's plate): house-made charcuterie such as duck liver mousse and pheasant galantine; soft Wabian pretzel with cauliflower-gruyère fondue; whole roasted rainbow trout with asparagus, candied black sesame, farmer’s cheese, ground ivy and hard-cooked egg
What people come for: Chef-driven seasonal cuisine; unique wine, beer and cocktails
Address: 2728 W. Armitage Ave.
This idiosyncratic kosher barbecue joint — the name refers in part to a work by the 12th-century Jewish scholar Maimonides — in Lakeview makes a game of its individuality.
Number of seats: 80
Average per-person check: $25
Popular dishes: “Milt burger” with chopped brisket, chili, “bacon,” crispy onions and pickled jalapenos; smoked brisket sandwich; beef spare ribs
What people come for: Homey, earthy, wood-strewn surroundings
Address: 3411 N. Broadway
L2O’s new chef has given that restaurant a boost while other restaurants look at Grimm fairy tales and medieval Jewish treatises for inspiration.
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My favorite diner in Chicago. The family and I are there for breakfast almost every other Sunday. The food is fantastic!
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