Eat this Drink this: 101 of the best foods and drinks in Chicago.

Eat this Drink this: 101 of the best foods and drinks in Chicago.

Chicago Tribune |
Jun 11, 2017

How was dinner last night?” is a question you hear constantly in the Food & Dining corner of the Tribune newsroom, surpassed only by “How was lunch today?” … or, sometimes, “How was second lunch?”

Our reporters are, as you’d imagine, always eating. (I suggest finding food reporter Nick Kindelsperger on Instagram — @nkindelsperger — if you’re looking to follow along with our many-meals-a-day lifestyle.)

Compliments and criticisms of restaurants fly, but the most promising answer is when someone can’t stop talking about one thing they tried. “The sandwich I just had at this Torta Haus place in Lakeview is insane. They put bratwurst on top of pork schnitzel, and pile that with sauerkraut and mustard and Brussels sprouts and spicy mayonnaise and a ton of melted cheese, but somehow it works. It’s amazing.” (Paraphrased from a recent conversation in our test kitchen. But you get the idea.)

This feature is dedicated to those moments, when one of us finds a single dish or dessert or cocktail that we want the world to know about. Here, we’ve collected 101 of them, from fried chicken nachos with the Honey Butter touch to a spicy, coconuty and cheekily named tequila cocktail to silky thin crepes with goat cheese, honey and black figs, a treasure you’ll find at Chicago’s first Kurdish restaurant. If you actually do make it through them all, email me — I think we’d be friends.

9 desserts worth saving room for

Apple oatmeal cookie Summer House Santa Monica

The apple oatmeal cookie ($3) in the front bakery at Summer House might be my perfect match. (Certainly better than the guy with the two-word vocabulary of “hey” and “hi.”) My first date with the cookie went so well, I even took him home. That was two years ago, and I’m still in love. The only problem with a monogamous cookie relationship is that you never quite know what you’re missing, especially when the dessert in question has attractive friends. Sea salt chocolate chip. Butterscotch. Rocky Road, bursting with marshmallows. One day I caved, took a few friends and tried them all. Each one was perfectly baked, a soft middle hugged by a crunchy rim. But am I ready to move on? Nope: Apple, with its irresistible hunks of cinnamon-dusted fruit, is still my number one hunk. 1954 N. Halsted St., 773-634-4100, www.summerhousesm.com/chicago

– Marissa Conrad

22 must-try vegetarian dishes

Cap'n Crunch French toast

Cap’n Crunch French toast at Oyster Bah

Bread, egg wash, pan fry, boom: French toast — OK at best, frequently meh. Thankfully, the dish gets a much-needed makeover at Oyster Bah. The restaurant’s Cap’n Crunch French toast ($12) layers in orange custard that adds tartness, and ups the texture by coating challah bread with crispy Cap’n Crunch. “This was my favorite cereal growing up,” says Oyster Bah chef Pete Balodimas. “I made this French toast at home for my family, and it worked so well, we incorporated it onto our brunch menu.” Housemade syrup brings it all together. “We take pure Vermont maple syrup and blueberries, then slowly heat until the berries begin to pop, which flavors the maple syrup,” says Balodimas. “While the syrup simmers, butter is emulsified in.” Turns out, French toast can be fantastic. 1962 N. Halsted St., 773-248-3000, www.oysterbah.com

– DH

23 top picks for meat lovers

Gnocchi bologneseGnocchi bolognese at Il Porcellino

Il Porcellino in River North is justifiably popular for its pastas, especially the feather-light dumplings that go into the menu’s gnocchi Bolognese. The gnocchi would star in any context, but the contrast between the delicate dumplings and the rustic, meat-rich bolognese sauce makes the dish especially memorable. $17. 59 W. Hubbard St., 312-595-0800, www.ilporcellinochicago.com

— Phil Vettel

17 great dishes that cost less than $5

Apple oatmeal cookie Summer House Santa Monica

The apple oatmeal cookie ($3) in the front bakery at Summer House might be my perfect match. (Certainly better than the guy with the two-word vocabulary of “hey” and “hi.”) My first date with the cookie went so well, I even took him home. That was two years ago, and I’m still in love. The only problem with a monogamous cookie relationship is that you never quite know what you’re missing, especially when the dessert in question has attractive friends. Sea salt chocolate chip. Butterscotch. Rocky Road, bursting with marshmallows. One day I caved, took a few friends and tried them all. Each one was perfectly baked, a soft middle hugged by a crunchy rim. But am I ready to move on? Nope: Apple, with its irresistible hunks of cinnamon-dusted fruit, is still my number one hunk. 1954 N. Halsted St., 773-634-4100, www.summerhousesm.com/chicago

– Marissa Conrad

12 breakfast specialties

Cap'n Crunch French toast

Cap’n Crunch French toast at Oyster Bah

Bread, egg wash, pan fry, boom: French toast — OK at best, frequently meh. Thankfully, the dish gets a much-needed makeover at Oyster Bah. The restaurant’s Cap’n Crunch French toast ($12) layers in orange custard that adds tartness, and ups the texture by coating challah bread with crispy Cap’n Crunch. “This was my favorite cereal growing up,” says Oyster Bah chef Pete Balodimas. “I made this French toast at home for my family, and it worked so well, we incorporated it onto our brunch menu.” Housemade syrup brings it all together. “We take pure Vermont maple syrup and blueberries, then slowly heat until the berries begin to pop, which flavors the maple syrup,” says Balodimas. “While the syrup simmers, butter is emulsified in.” Turns out, French toast can be fantastic. 1962 N. Halsted St., 773-248-3000, www.oysterbah.com

– DH

16 dishes for when you just need carbs

Gnocchi bolognese

Gnocchi bolognese at Il Porcellino

Il Porcellino in River North is justifiably popular for its pastas, especially the feather-light dumplings that go into the menu’s gnocchi Bolognese. The gnocchi would star in any context, but the contrast between the delicate dumplings and the rustic, meat-rich bolognese sauce makes the dish especially memorable. $17. 59 W. Hubbard St., 312-595-0800, www.ilporcellinochicago.com

— Phil Vettel

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
DC & Bethesda Restaurant Week 2019
Jan 15, 2019

DC Restaurant Week (January 14 - 20) and Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week (January 11 - 20) are…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour
Jan 13, 2019

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at select Lettuce Entertain You…

read more >
How To
Already Fell Off the Healthy New Year’s Resolution Wagon? Let’s Eat.
Jan 13, 2019

"New Year, Same Me" more your speed? Well, we're right there with you. Celebrate one of our favorite…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What to Carry-out for the Big Game 2019 + Brunch Specials: Chicagoland
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is Sunday, February 3, 2019 and whether you're looking for a spot to watch football or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Chicago Restaurant Week 2019
Jan 12, 2019

Have you been dying to try one of our Chicago restaurants but were waiting for a sign? Well, Chicago…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Best Spots for Group Dining
Jan 12, 2019

You finally got the whole crew to agree on the same day and time, now you just have to find the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
New Sunday Brunch at the Bah
Jan 10, 2019

Tired of being told how to brunch? Your fave Lincoln Park seafood spot, Oyster Bah, is inviting you…

read more >
In The Restaurants
8 Food Trends We’re Looking Forward To In 2019
Jan 8, 2019

Just like fashion, food is always trending and it’s up to the experts to decide what’s “in”…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
Jan 8, 2019

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Cheers for Mocktails
Jan 8, 2019

If you're doing Dry January, mocktails are the perfect way to enjoy Happy Hour without the alcohol.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Brunch this Weekend
Jan 3, 2019

If you're anything like us, you plan your weekend around brunch. Here is your guide to all of our…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Kid-Friendly Dining Options and Activities
Jan 2, 2019

You've been to the zoo, the beach, the pool... the kids are starting to get stir crazy. We've got…

read more >
In The Restaurants
#LettuceLookBack: 18 of our Favorite Moments of 2018
Dec 31, 2018

It’s been 47 years since we opened the doors of our first restaurant, but 2018 was a year of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life
Dec 5, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants
Nov 18, 2018

Finding gluten-free friendly restaurants has gotten a lot easier than it used to be. At Lettuce…

read more >
How To
How To: Get Cozy with Pappardelle alla Porcellino
Nov 7, 2018

With fall in full swing, what’s better than cozying up with a big bowl of homemade pasta? The team…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Throwing a Holiday Party? Don’t Forget These 4 Things!
Nov 7, 2018

Before your friends and family come over and gather around your table, there are a few tips and…

read more >
How To
A Few Of Our Favorite Game Day Recipes
Nov 5, 2018

When you are in the mood to get your hands dirty in the kitchen for hosting your crew or solo…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Fall Harvest’s Best Dishes
Nov 1, 2018

The bounty of fall harvest comes at a time in the year when we are craving the comfort of cool…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Pancakes with Cranberry Relish and Orange Zest
Oct 31, 2018

The morning after Thanksgiving leaves a lot of leftovers to be transformed. Jeff Mahin, Chef/…

read more >
In The Restaurants
All Pumpkin, Everything
Oct 20, 2018

'Tis the season for everyone's favorite fall ingredient, pumpkin. Whether you're preparing pumpkin…

read more >
How To
il Porcellino’s Gnocchi Bolognese
Oct 17, 2018

Cold weather have you staying at home for dinner? il Porcellino's Gnocchi Bolognese is the perfect…

read more >
In The Restaurants
It’s Apple Season: Where To Eat ‘Em
Oct 16, 2018

Yeah, yeah, pumpkin this and pumpkin that, but let us not forget about our other favorite fall…

read more >
Openings
Crab Cellar is Now Open With Unlimited Crab & Burgers 5 Nights a Week
Oct 10, 2018

Crab and burgers are just a few of our favorite things so why not open an entire restaurant…

read more >
How To
Getting Saucy: 3 Pasta Sauce Recipes for Easy, Intermediate or Expert Chefs
Oct 10, 2018

October marks National Pasta Month which begs the question: what is pasta without the sauce? We're…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Guide to Game Day Grub 2018
Sep 14, 2018

Fall is the kick-off to football season and no matter what team you are rootin' for, several of our…

read more >
How To
Spicy Grilled Street Corn from Oyster Bah
Sep 11, 2018

This Spicy Grilled Street Corn is the perfect side or a meal on it's own. Chef Donny Farrell of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Fall Foliage on the Horizon: Five Ways to Enjoy the Season
Aug 28, 2018

As summer dwindles down, our days are getting chillier and the leaves are starting to turn. Fall is…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Best Time of the Year: Patio Season
Aug 10, 2018

Warm weather is here, which means al fresco dining is too! We've rounded up the best patios at…

read more >
How To
All the Ways to Rosé this Summer
Aug 6, 2018

Let’s face it, rosé is welcome all day, every day. We’re here to help you navigate your way…

read more >
In The Restaurants
One of Our Favorite Things About Summer: Heirloom Tomatoes
Aug 1, 2018

As we savor the last months of the summer season, our chefs are just getting ready to add heirloom…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce Life: Meet Avril Zayas, Senior Designer
Jul 30, 2018

Welcome to Lettuce Life, a behind the scenes look at what makes Lettuce Entertain You special: our…

read more >
How To
This Summer, Grill Like A Chef. Here’s How
Jul 19, 2018

Executive Chef Justin Diglia of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Chicago and his…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Summer Ice Cream Checklist
Jul 19, 2018

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM...we all know the drill so let's get to the good stuff. July is National Ice…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Eat the Best Mac and Cheese
Jul 14, 2018

In celebration of everyone's favorite cheesy dish we’ve rounded up some of our favorite…

read more >
In The Restaurants
4th of July 2018
Jul 3, 2018

It's that time of year to don your red, white and blue, fire up the grill and, of course, celebrate…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Be Your Summer Cookout’s Hero
Jul 2, 2018

It's 4th of July weekend and we know you don't want to show up empty-handed to your BBQ. We're here…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich is Served
Jul 2, 2018

You can roast ‘em, you can bake ‘em, and you can grill ‘em, but nothing tantalizes the taste…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Somm Picks: Top Bottles Under $50
Jun 26, 2018

Searching through wine lists can be a daunting task. Thumbing through dozens of pages filled with…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Oh Marie, Take Us To Summer
Jun 14, 2018

Summer is in full swing and there's a newfound spring in Marie's step with il Porcellino's warm…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
Now Serving: Di Pescara Thursday Night Lobster Special
Jan 17, 2019

Kick off the weekend early with this amazing deal! Di Pescara, located in Northbrook Court, is now…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Building The Perfect Bowl Of Ramen
Jan 16, 2019

'Tis the season for a hearty bowl of ramen to warm you up during these colder winter months. But…

read more >
In The Restaurants
DC & Bethesda Restaurant Week 2019
Jan 15, 2019

DC Restaurant Week (January 14 - 20) and Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week (January 11 - 20) are…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Mon Ami Gabi’s Braised Short Ribs
Jan 15, 2019

It's chilly outside and we've got the perfect winter dish to warm you up: Mon Ami Gabi's Braised…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Ozzie’s Pops & Pretzels Abuelita Hot Chocolate
Jan 14, 2019

Chef / Partner Ozzie Ocegueda of Ozzie's Pops and Pretzels is sharing his family hot chocolate…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Guide to Our Favorite Salads
Jan 14, 2019

A salad a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not. But we know it can be tough keeping your New…

read more >
How To
8 Ways to Use Your Lettuce Gift Card
Jan 14, 2019

Racking your brain for the perfect gift? Here's an idea, how about a Lettuce Entertain You Gift…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Big Game Day Carry-out + Brunch Specials 2019: Los Angeles
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is February 3, 2019 and if you are in Los Angeles, Stella Barra in Santa Monica and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What to Carry-Out and Where to Watch the Big Game 2019: Las Vegas
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is February 3, 2019 and if you are in Las Vegas, here are some of our restaurants that…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Big Game Day 2019: What to Carry-Out + Brunch Specials in D.C.
Jan 13, 2019

We're already looking forward to the Big Game on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Whether you're hosting at…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Big Game is February 3, 2019: What to Carry-Out in the Twin Cities
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is Sunday, February 3, 2019 and this year stock your game day spread with Wildfire or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour
Jan 13, 2019

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at select Lettuce Entertain You…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!