Under chef Tanya Baker, Alpana Singh's Boarding House has a new life. The American menu is filled with well-executed dishes, like housemade pastas, lovingly cooked octopus tentacles, and duck breast with celery root and black garlic sauce. As for drinks, with Singh at the helm, you know the wines are spectacular—knowledgable staff can help you find a new gem.
David Burke’s name is on the door of this modern steak house, but make no mistake—chef Dino Tsaknis is the one in the kitchen. Under the duo’s jurisdiction, warm popovers stand in for bread, filets are unstoppably tender and rich, and the Caesar salad is whipped up tableside. It’s not your mama’s steakhouse, but don’t worry—your parents will want you to take them here again and again.
This likable, cozy tavern approaches the idea of “local” with militant seriousness: The 28 draft lines run Buckledown, Half Acre, Dark Horse, 5 Rabbit —and that doesn’t even begin to cover it. The food too, is Midwestern in theme, and it's simple but consistently well executed. Fried cheese curds are served with house ketchup, the grass-fed burger is even better with the addition of a fried egg is a must in summer.
Most chefs behind culinary empires branch to other cities, leaving the original back home to suffer. Rick Bayless kept close to the kitchen and chose to expand in other ways (packaged food line, cookbooks, TV shows). Lucky us. For two decades, this has been the spot for a vibrant slice of Mexico City, a place to chow down on ceviches, earthy mole, wood-grilled steak tucked into housemade tortillas and, of course, insanely good margaritas.
If it gets any more old-school than this circa-1941 steakhouse, we haven’t seen it. Filling every inch of the wood-lined dining room are Naugahyde bar stools, chairs and banquettes as blood-red as the steaks (both well-aged, we might add). Servers range from formal to gruff, but they mean well and they deliver the goods: textbook veal Vesuvio, a “garbage” salad fit for four, calf’s liver sautéed with onions and bacon, perfectly seared chops and garlicky shrimp De Jonghe that the veteran staff swears the joint invented.
Michael Kornick’s initials still emblazon the exterior of this River North stalwart, but chef Erick Williams executes the day-to-day, drawing in newbies and satisfying loyalists with elegant and seasonal contemporary American cuisine. The spacious and tasteful room is comfortable enough that you can settle in for Williams’s tasting menu, where he’s been known to show off a veal porterhouse grilled over hardwood charcoal with melted leeks and the simplicity of seasonal oysters with a mignonette.
Chef Carrie Nahabedian delivers an upscale experience minus the pomp, courtesy of a snazzy room and a seasonal menu that reads like a who’s who in regional, sustainable foods. The menu changes weekly, so expect anything from seasonal veggies—Tender leaf spinach and roasted fennel bulb—accompanying a wild Carolina Coast striped bass to walnut baklava with Afghani saffron ice cream, greek yogurt and Bay Laurel Leaf Gelée.