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Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

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.

By Elizabeth Atkinson

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

Mango and citrus at Boka

Restaurants American creative 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

Cheddar and apples at Ampersand Wine Bar

Bars Wine bars 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.

Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

Cider glazed doughnuts at The Northman

Bars Beer bars 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

Profiterole at Entente

Restaurants American creative River North

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.

Photograph: Matthias Merges

Rhubarb strawberry cobbler at Billy Sunday

Bars Cocktail bars 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

Guava–passion-fruit sorbetto at Nico Osteria

Restaurants Seafood 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.

Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

24 Karrot ice cream at SmallCakes

Restaurants Ice cream parlors 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

Peach cobbler at Chez Delisay's Cajun Cuisine

Restaurants Cajun 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.

Macarons at Alliance Patisserie
Photograph: Martha Williams

Raspberry macaron at Alliance Patisserie

Restaurants Patisseries 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

Cajeta ice cream at Giant

Restaurants American creative 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.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Rainbow brownie cookie bowl at Cookie Spin

Restaurants Bakeries 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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