The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2016: Desserts

There's nothing more divine than ending your dinner on a sweet note. We present the best desserts we had in 2016.
Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron
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For the sweet tooth in all of us, there’s something a little bit special about ordering a dessert at the end of a meal. From great ice creams to fine dining finishers, these are the best desserts we found in 2016 (in no particular order).

RECOMMENDED: 100 best dishes and drinks 2016

Photograph: Courtesy Boka
Restaurants, American creative

Mango and citrus at Boka

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Of all of Meg Galus’s pastries this year, this was our favorite: two scoops of mango ice cream with a dollop of mascarpone, plated with angel food and smoked vanilla and surrounded by tiny citrus spheres to provide a fruity pop. No longer available.

Photograph: John Khuu
Bars, Wine bars

Cheddar and apples at Ampersand Wine Bar

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square

Ridiculously delicious and perfect for those who like their sweets…well, not too sweet, this elegant dessert combined hunks of Hooks Wisconsin cheddar with sautéed boozy apples and pine nuts—a simple and excellent dish. No longer available.

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Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron
Bars, Beer bars

Cider glazed doughnuts at The Northman

icon-location-pin North Center

Of all the things we could have fallen in love with at a cider bar, dessert wouldn’t have been our first guess. But these guys come with brown-butter ice cream that is rich, nutty and buttery, plus a creamy maple glaze and pecan crumble we can’t resist. $9.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
Restaurants, American creative

Profiterole at Entente

icon-location-pin Lake View

Entente’s fancy tasting menu keeps thing super highbrow, including when it comes to desserts. The cherry profiterole has notes of sour cherry, sassafrass and shiso, topped with a chocolate drizzle and paired with a tiny scoop of ice cream. It’s delicate and light—a perfect way to end a dinner packed with pretty plates. $13.

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Photograph: Matthias Merges
Bars, Cocktail bars

Rhubarb strawberry cobbler at Billy Sunday

icon-location-pin Logan Square

Rhubarb and strawberry positively scream “summer,” meaning we’re ordering two to tide us over through winter. This cobbler has a salty and crunchy crust on top of a sweet, warm and fruity center. $8, seasonal.

Photograph: Nico Osteria
Restaurants, Seafood

Guava–passion-fruit sorbetto at Nico Osteria

icon-location-pin Gold Coast

The scoops on offer at Nico Osteria are constantly changing, but we’re fans of the sorbettos in general. The guava–passion-fruit is a sweet and refreshing post-dinner palate cleanser, and the scoops aren’t too big, meaning you can have dessert without regretting it. $3/scoop.

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Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

24 Karrot ice cream at SmallCakes

icon-location-pin Lake View

Ice cream is serious business: It must be creamy, flavorful, not too sweet, not too soft and not too hard. The 24 Karrot ice cream at Lakeview’s SmallCakes hit all of those notes and then some, with chunks of carrot-cake cupcakes contrasting the ice cream’s cinnamon flavors with vegetal sweetness. No longer available.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Cajun

Peach cobbler at Chez Delisay's Cajun Cuisine

icon-location-pin Rogers Park

This hidden gem is positively adorable, with its white linen tablecloths, a team of ridiculously friendly sisters running the place and killer Cajun food coming from the kitchen. But we come for dessert—specifically, this cobbler. It is buttery, sugar-packed and has a perfectly flaky crust filled with peaches that dissolve as you bite into them. $5.

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Macarons at Alliance Patisserie
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Patisseries

Raspberry macaron at Alliance Patisserie

icon-location-pin River North

This raspberry macaron is a perfect example of France’s popular bite-size export. The shell is sturdy but still breaks delicately as you bite into it, and the interior is cookie-soft—exactly what a macaron should be. And that raspberry gel at the center is beautifully tart. We’ll take six. $2 each.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, American creative

Cajeta ice cream at Giant

icon-location-pin Logan Square

If you set out to remind us of eating Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars in our childhoods, then you’d better nail it. This dessert does just that (minus the stick)—you’ll find butter pecan crunch, freeze-dried strawberries and goat’s milk caramel, served with vanilla ice cream and a side of nostalgia. $10.

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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Bakeries

Rainbow brownie cookie bowl at Cookie Spin

icon-location-pin North Center

Cookie Spin’s offerings range closer to cupcake or even pie territory than cookies. Call it a cookie if you like, but you’re going to be calling for seconds of this one: a chocolate-chip-cookie bowl filled with soft, rich brownie and topped with M&M’s. $5.25.

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