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The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2015: small plates

From tacos to bar snacks, the 25 best small plates and appetizers of the year may be small, but they deliver big flavor

Photograph: Nick Murway

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. 

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best dishes and drinks in Chicago

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Bars, Lounges

Warm Bavarian pretzel at the Game Room

icon-location-pin Loop

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.

Guisado de Puerco Taco
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Mexican

Guisado de puerco taco at Taco Bueno

icon-location-pin Lower West Side

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.

Roasted Castelvetrano Olives with Orange and Rosemary
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
Restaurants, Seafood

Roasted Castelvetrano olives at Nico Osteria

icon-location-pin Gold Coast

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.

Garlic panisse at Sink | Swim.
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Seafood

Garlic panisse at Sink Swim

icon-location-pin Logan Square

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.

Trucker Snacks
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
Restaurants, Barbecue

Trucker snacks at Bub City

icon-location-pin River North

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.

Sunchoke dosa at Taus
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Sunchoke dosa at Taus Authentic

icon-location-pin Wicker Park

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.

Tomato Bread
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Spanish

Tomato bread at Vera

icon-location-pin West Loop

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.

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