The best entrees
Our award for the most decadent pasta of the year: John Vermiglio’s bucatini carbonara, coated in cream sauce, studded with guanciale and finished with an egg. Slice it open to release the velvety yolk, then loosen your belt. $20.
You can get this dish with meat, too, but it definitely doesn’t need it—the pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and aji pepper and peanut sauce are a great combination with the corn bread base. $10.
You haven’t had chicken until you’ve had Lee Wolen’s chicken, with lemon and thyme brioche stuffed between the tender meat and crackly skin. $29.
We like Ceres’ Table’s new Lakeview location, but we like the new wood-burning pizza oven even more since it started turning out these exceptional, lightly charred crusts topped with mozzarella. $14–$16.
One slice into this single raviolo and ricotta and egg yolk will spill out and mingle with brown butter. It’s so good you’ll want one per person. $14.
There are more elaborate pizzas at Craft, but this pie, with a bubbly crust, zippy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, is simplicity at its best. $14/$18.
We scraped up every bit of the rich, tomatoey housemade curry sauce that coats the grilled sausage and fries, and wound up returning to the food truck for an extra cup. $8.
Chicago may be ramen-crazed right now, so we’ll make this easy: Our current favorite bowl is the namesake variety at Brendan Sodikoff’s basement ramen bar. The velvety tonkotsu broth is spiked with Sichuan peppers and Japanese chilies, plus springy noodles and luscious pork belly. $14.
On one of the coldest days of the year, we walked into Isla Pilipina, ordered a bowl of the sour, peppery tamarind soup—packed with tomato, green beans and big hunks of chicken—and instantly felt happy and warm. $8.
The chef in question is esteemed sushi chef B.K. Park, which means you’re crazy if you don’t let him fill a bowl with a generous array of pristine slices of fish. $38.
So often consigned to being a side dish, the potato gets its due at Salero, where the tender slice of potato is joined by a fried egg, mushrooms and thick slices of melted Spanish cheese. $23.
Bring a friend and get messy with a massive Dungeness crab, which is broken apart, deep-fried and tossed with onions and peppers. We wound up with crab in our hair, but who cares? $36.
You could put anything on this chewy, crispy crust and we’d bet it would be amazing. But we can’t imagine anything better than this fennel-loaded sausage. $14.95.
That the standout dish at this charcuterie restaurant is a bowl filled with seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs (which are roasted, raw and pickled) is a testament to just how thoughtful chefs Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski are with every dish. $18.
The tiniest, most delicate ravioli we’ve ever had, the plin are stuffed with melting La Tur cheese and Parmesan and tossed with thyme and butter sauce, for a deceptively rich dish. $14.
Smoke can often overwhelm a dish, but not in the capable hands of Andrew Zimmerman, who balances the smoked rainbow trout and smoked trout roe with dill potatoes and caraway butter. $29.
Sometimes, you need to visit a classic, which is how we found ourselves recently demolishing a plate of tender, well-spiced gyro meat, pillowy pita, thick tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and raw onions. Throw in a glass of moschofilero, and you have our perfect meal. $8.75.
Never had squash pizza? Now’s the time to start. Sage, walnuts, Gouda and brown butter combine for a perfectly autumnal, charred-edge pie. $13.