Just like gifts, sometimes the best bites come in small packages. Proof: Pub Royale's spicy-sweet Gobi Manchurian, Yum Dum Truck's gooey kimcheesy rice balls and In-On Thai's funky green bean salad. This year, Chicago restaurants served 25 memorable small plates, from some of the city's best tacos to beautiful dishes at fine dining restaurants, all small in size, huge in flavor.
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It’s easy to work up an appetite while playing bocce in the Game Room—luckily Peter Coenen’s menu includes a big soft pretzel, served with frothy beer cheese to take care of that. $8.
A double house-made tortilla padded with rice and beans can barely contain this pork stew, with hunks of tender pork bathed in a spicy red chili sauce. $2.30.
At the lively Salone Nico bar at Nico Osteria, warm, salty Castelvetrano olives, roasted with olive oil and tossed with orange, rosemary and chilis, are perfect for pairing with one of Matty Eggleston’s cocktails. $7.
With savory broth, masses of caramelized onions and thick, nutty, melted cheese, Bistro Campagne’s French onion soup is the best version in town. $9.
Here’s a dish that makes good on its name: Crazy Bird Crazy Good Fries are crunchy, piled with melted cheese, white gravy, truffle oil and crisp shards of duck bacon. $8.
Confession: We considered licking the dish with the Bloody Mary–inspired cocktail sauce clean before a server removed it. Be sure to use as much sauce as possible on the buttery, plump shrimp. $16.
The sleeper hit of the seafood menu is this dish of garlicky, velvety chickpea flour fries, brightened with lemon zest, herbs and salty pecorino. $6.
When the country music is rocking and you’ve had a couple of whiskey drinks, nothing tastes better than these saltines, stacked with pimiento cheese, pickles and hot links. $6.
A fragrant red curry scent wafts through the air before the dish arrives at the table; it’s a harbinger of this delicate crepe stuffed with spiced sunchoke cubes and golden raisins. $12.
It always tastes like the height of summer at Vera with this tomato bread, lightly grilled and topped with crushed tomatoes, garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s a must-order to start any meal. $5.