Aloha Poké Co.


Duck Duck Goat (photo credit: Shannon Monso)

Eat This Now: 7 must-try dishes in Chicago right now

By Lauren Mandel

Chicago is hardly lacking for impressive restaurants—every time you turn a corner, a new spot has popped up, and each seems to be offering the kind of incredible meals you'll want to eat again and again. But then there are those special few, the dishes you think about long after your meal is over, the ones you devour slowly because you don't want the flavor to end. While we’re confident there are dozens of options out there just waiting to be discovered, we’ve done the delicious work to single out seven must-try dishes in Chicago right now.

Crab Rangoon at Duck Duck Goat
You know the crab Rangoon you get at your local Chinese restaurant? The soggy pastries filled with lukewarm cream cheese and small bits of crab? Yeah, this is nothing like that. The crab Rangoon at Stephanie Izard's new Fulton Market venture is crispy and soft, with a filling that’s equal parts cream cheese and plump crabmeat.

'Nduja arancini at Monteverde
Sarah Grueneberg was a celebrated chef at Spiaggia for many years, and since opening her own restaurant, Monteverde, she’s only continued to excel. The pastas at this West Loop destination are all excellent, but the standout dish is the 'nduja arancini. 'Nduja is like a spreadable version of salami, and when you stuff it into perfectly cooked rice balls, you have an addictive appetizer that will please your entire group.

Ahi tuna poké bowl from Aloha Poké Co.
Poké seems to be taking over on the coasts, but Chicago has been slower to adopt the Hawaiian raw fish trend. All that might be changing, however, now that Aloha Poké Co. has come to the Chicago French Market. Let's just say that it definitely won't be the last poké restaurant to open in the city–specially because Aloha has two more locations opening this summer. All of the bowls here are fresh and flavorful, but the classic ahi tuna bowl is an order you can always count on.

Cold platter from Swift & Sons
When you visit a steakhouse, well, you’re probably planning to order a steak. And if you follow through on the tried and true at Swift & Sons, you’ll hardly be disappointed with your meal, but it’s actually the seafood here that stands out most to us. The cold platter is a showstopper, filled with shrimp, bay scallop Leche de Tigre, king crab, oysters, and our favorite, an adorable tin of freshly smoked mussels.

Shaved prime beef from Steakbar
We’re not saying you should ditch the classic Italian beef sandwiches you know and love, but Brendan Sodikoff’s version at Steakbar is one of the best options to be found in all of Chicago. The jus is house-made (you’ll want to drink it straight), and the shaved prime beef is topped with provolone cheese and a horseradish cream sauce.

Meat and three from Saint Lou's Assembly
The “meat and three” concept comes from the South—most specifically Nashville—and now Chef Jared Wentworth at Saint Lou’s Assembly is introducing this style of dining to Chicagoans. It may be a counter-service restaurant, but the food here is elevated and delicious. Our top choices? Old Bay–crusted catfish (for our meat) with mac-and-cheese, green beans, and a wedge salad (for our threes).

Kalua pork platter from Mahalo
If you can’t be in Hawaii to soak up the sun and the surf, you might as well at least eat like a Hawaiian. Mahalo, the Hawaiian-themed spot in Wicker Park, serves up plenty of poké bowls, but our favorite dish has to be the kalua pork platter. It includes tender slow-roasted pork, white rice, macaroni salad, and Hawaiian BBQ sauce—just the way you’d get it in on the islands.

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