BalsanThe (somewhat) casual restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria serves every meal of the day, produces much of its own cured meats, and keeps season and creativity at the forefront to add interest to bistro classics. Soups and pastas are particularly well executed, the raw bar is reliably fresh, and the tarte flambé is an ideal pair with a pick from the impressive beer list. 11 E Walton St (312-646-1400). Breakfast, brunch (Sat, Sun), lunch (Mon–Fri), dinner. Average main course: $20.
Bread & WineThe room, the cocktails, the food and the clientele (largely groups of wine-guzzling women) give Bread & Wine the feeling of a dinner party right out of the pages of a CB2 catalog. Housemade mortadella (from the restaurant’s ambitious charcuterie program) and an umami-rich chorizo-topped burger are our favorites from dinner; johnnycakes with glazed cherries and gnocchi topped with eggs are our picks for brunch. 3732 W Irving Park Rd (773-866-5266). Brunch (Sun), dinner. Average main course: $13.
Cyrano’s Farm KitchenAfter 16 years in Old Town, chef Didier Durand reconcepted Cyrano’s Bistrot, focusing less on France and more on direct-from-the-farm ingredients. The result is a more modern room full of dark reclaimed wood that…feels pretty bistroish. Durand’s well-regarded charcuterie, such as thyme-scented duck rillettes, plays a big part on the menu, as does a whole section of burgers. But unlike the aggressively flavored food at other farmhouse spots, this food has a simple subtlety to it. That makes it slightly unexciting, but it’s refreshing, too. 546 N Wells St (312-467-0546). Lunch, (Tue–Fri), dinner (closed Sun). Average main course: $20.
DiSotto EnotecaOld World wine list and Mediterranean small plates: Scott Harris has nailed the formula at Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca, so why mess with a good thing? Admittedly, the scales at DiSotto (in the cellar-like basement of Francesca’s on Chestnut) tip toward drinking—the food is limited to antipasti, bruschette, cheeses and salumi. But when you’re spreading thick ricotta and fragments of honeycomb on toasted bread or sampling warm, marinated olives or indulging in the toast with a truffled egg yolk at its center, the appeal of this wine bar can’t help but feel unending. 200 E Chestnut St (312-482-8727). Mon–Thu 5pm–midnight; Fri, Sat 5pm–1am; Sun 5–11pm. Average glass of wine: $9.
Old Town SocialThe yuppie crowd at this glamorous bar might have other things on its mind, but to come here and not order chef Jared Van Camp’s charcuterie is to miss the point: More than a dozen varieties are cured in-house, including standouts like the fennel-scented finocchiona. And the kitchen doesn’t stop there: Everything from the hot sauce to the hot dogs is made from scratch. 455 W North Ave (312-266-2277). Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2am. Average beer: $6.
QuartinoThe Gibsons folks go rustic Italian with this cavernous dining room decked out with reclaimed wood and subway tiles, vintage mirrors and mismatched chairs. To ensure authenticity on the plate, chef John Coletta makes salumi like beef bresaola, spicy soppressata and duck prosciutto in-house. The pizza is among the better thin-crust versions in town. Living up to the name, the affordable, half-Italian, half-global wine list is offered in quarter, half and full liters. 626 N State St (312-698-5000). Lunch, dinner. Average small plate: $7.