Blue Elephant The kitchen (on view from the dining room) here is mind-bogglingly tiny. That is, it’s mind-boggling when you think about the never-ending number of dishes this place puts out. Blue Elephant offers straight-up Thai food like pot stickers and a delicious bowl of vaguely sweet Massaman curry, but you can get that stuff anywhere. Order the aromatic bowl of pasta sauced with green curry and topped with salmon, and you’ll know that the more interesting fusion dishes are the way to go. 1235 W Devon Ave (773-262-5216). El: Red to Loyola. Bus: 36, 147, 151, 155. Lunch (Mon–Sat), dinner. Average main course: $8.
Rios d’Sudamerica Dino Perez has stepped away from “old-school” Peruvian in favor of what he and chef Jose Victorio call a “fusion of Peruvian, Argentinean and Brazilian.” Look for stylized presentations of classics like lomo al pisco (sautéed steak with onions, tomatoes and fried potatoes). To add to his vision, Perez has included bartenders armed with juices and mixers to turn BYO liquors (allowable Mon–Wed) into cocktails. 2010 W Armitage Ave (773-276-0170). El: Blue to Western. Bus: 50, 73. Dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $19.
Mexique Chef Carlos Gaytan is going for Mexican-French here, but most of his food comes off as upscale versions of the former. This isn’t a problem: You’ll be too busy eating to notice the lack of French flair in dishes like the perfect lamb chops, accompanied with a delicious barbacoa sope; beautiful ceviche; and excellent, beer-battered fish tacos. And when the fusion thing works, as it does with the cochinita rillettes and the luscious duck confit tacos, it’s nothing short of magnifique. 1529 W Chicago Ave (312-850-0288). El: Blue to Chicago. Bus: 9, X9, 66. Brunch (Sat, Sun), lunch, dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $20.
Sunda Spending your night comparing the pan-Asian eats at this hot-stuff megarestaurant from the Rockit Ranch crew to your favorite dumplings in Chinatown will leave you feeling salty and ripped off. So don’t. Instead, go with an open mind, enjoy the people-watching, and opt for the creative, fusiony signatures of the house: crispy rice nigiri topped with spicy tuna, strip steak formed into “lollipops” around lemongrass skewers, and a salad of salty, crispy-skinned duck meat. 110 W Illinois St (312-644-0500). El: Red to Grand; Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Merchandise Mart. Bus: 22, 65, 156. Lunch (Mon–Fri), dinner. Average main course: $22.
Amelia’s Bar and Grill We doubt Amelia’s can do for the post-industrial Back of the Yards neighborhood what Mundial–Cocina Mestiza did for Pilsen, but this BYOB spot is certainly worth a trek. Former Mundial chef Eusevio Garcia serves langoustines over creamy risotto dotted with velvety mushrooms, pairs grilled lamb loin with a crunchy sugar-snap-pea slaw and lemony potato cake, and makes one hell of a chile relleno—a blistered green-pepper, oozing cheese-covered sweet corn and tender eggplant. 4559 S Halsted St (773-538-8200). El: Red to 47th. Bus: 8, 44, 47. Brunch (Sat–Sun), lunch (Mon–Fri), dinner. Average main course: $18.