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Eat This Now: 9 must-try dishes in Chicago right now

Chicken Parmesan sandwich at Nonna’s

Springtime in Chicago means new restaurants and new plates that bridge the gap between hearty comfort fare of winter and lighter, fresher abundance of summer. It’s an opportunity to appease a wide variety of cravings, and sometimes it might even seem like there’s too much to keep up with. To help you prioritize, here is our selection of a few of the best dishes in Chicago right now.

Chicken Parmesan sandwich at Nonna’s
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a doting Italian grandma with a penchant for Parmesan. But thanks to the West Loop’s newest Italian sandwich and sundries shop, Nonna’s, the rest of us can fill the void with a generous surrogate. The slick space is filled with homey Italian classics both hot and cold, from Italian subs to Italian beef. The real gem here, though, is the humble-sounding chicken Parmesan. It’s a perfect iteration of the modest classic, featuring succulent slices of chicken striated with verdant marinara and fresh mozzarella on crusty, slightly charred ciabatta bread.

Washugyu at Momotaro
It can be hard to narrow down a favorite dish at this new West Loop spot, since everything is so outrageously delicious. But no matter how you break it down, the washugyu is definitely a standout—skewers of tender skirt steak, blistered shishito peppers, and earthy foie gras. The skirt steak will melt in your mouth so quickly that you may find yourself asking for another.

The Wendy Peffercorn smoothie at Real Good Juice Co.
Sure, maybe not everyone considers a smoothie a complete meal. But with the juice and smoothie craze taking over the country, maybe it’s time to rethink that assumption. And the Real Good Juice Co. is the place to do that thinking. Although they're mostly known for their freshly pressed juices, their Wendy Peffercorn, packed with mango, strawberries, camu camu, lemonade, and mint, is a handheld meal you'll be craving all summer long.

Tallboy Taco's beer-battered crispy fish taco
Stealing some space from Nacional 27 to open this energetic taco joint was just one of Lettuce Entertain You great ideas. All of the tacos here are great, but the standout is definitely the beer-battered crispy fish taco. Pico de gallo and a hint of lime juice are enough to make this taco shine, but if you're looking for even more spice, head to the self-serve salsa bar. It probably goes without saying, but the taco is best enjoyed with a side of guacamole, too.
Oysters at The Franklin Room
Although this River North speakeasy has a dark and mysterious interior, the raw oysters here are bright and refreshing. Served on the half shell and dressed with pickled cucumber, house chile sauce, and yuzu ice, they're the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. Even better, they're only $1 every day from 5 to 6:30 PM. Order half a dozen to share, and save room for rest of The Franklin Room’s stellar dishes.

Broccoli at Oak + Char
It takes a special talent to make broccoli the star of a plate, but the kid-disapproved vegetable easily steals the entire show at Oak + Char, a modern Midwestern restaurant in River North brimming with a palpable sense of whimsy and innovation. Unlike any other broccoli preparation in town, this one entails frying whole broccoli in a light tempura-like batter, which makes the florets taste and crackle like savory vegetable doughnuts. Liberally salted, they’re as addictive as French fries, especially when draped with white anchovies and smeared with parsnip aïoli.

Aburiya Kinnosuke

BBE exclusive 5-course spring tasting menu + seasonal sake ($55 per person)

Spring has sprung in New York, and Aburiya Kinnosuke has created a special BBE tasting menu. From cold to hot, and from fresh and light to rich and punchy—the five courses carry with them a sense of adventure.… read more

Available Now

Potato skin mac and cheese at Miss Ricky’s
When Sir Richard Branson opened the world’s very first (and currently only) Virgin Hotel in Chicago, he pulled out all the stops. Yes, we’re talking about potato skin mac and cheese, the richest comfort food combination since cronuts. This killer appetizer, the requisite snacking fare at the hotel’s resident modern diner, Miss Ricky’s, is made by stuffing toothsome potato skins with gooey, bacon-strewn mac and cheese, and topping it all off with a dollop of sour cream.

Tippling Hall's lunch tray special
Remember those lunch trays from when you were a kid? You know, the ones with the individual, defined sections for cafeteria staples like mac and cheese and steamed broccoli? Well, Tippling Hall has upgraded this classic platter with their lunch tray special. The meal includes a small salad, hummus, and a choice of main dish, like the chicken potpie or salmon. To finish it off, they even throw in a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

Pepperoni pizza at Roxie’s by the Slice
There’s a lot to be said for refined simplicity. When done right, a straightforward slice of pizza can be the most glorious thing. Such is the case at Bucktown’s new slice shop, Roxie’s by the Slice, which bills itself as a Brooklyn-style pizzeria, specializing in exactly what their name implies. Enormously wide pies are stretched razor-thin before baking in equally enormous ovens. Once cooked, they’re sliced into triangles the size of a toddler. The result is floppy, greasy, cheesy, doughy deliciousness, something that can only be enhanced with spicy nobs of pepperoni.
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