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Best sausage that brings the funk

Soppressata from ’Nduja Artisans ndujaartisans.com Ever since it burst onto the scene with its spicy, spreadable Calabrian meat butter, salumi start-up ’Nduja Artisans has been expanding its production line with heritage meats like Wagyu salame di manzo, Wagyu bresaola, Berkshire hot coppa, and a black-label ’nduja made from Mangalitsas and Ossabaws. But it’s the new […]

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Best comeback(s) from disaster

5 Loaves Eatery 5loaveschicago.com The kind of place every neighborhood wants, 5 Loaves Eatery is a brightly painted, friendly breakfast spot making delicious soul-food staples like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. And food with soul it is: the name comes from the five loaves that Jesus multiplied in Matthew, and the owners give […]

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Best Hot Doug’s stand-in

Hot “G” Dog hotgdog.com During Hot Doug’s waning days last summer and fall, when lovers of encased meats mourned by waiting in nine-hour lines, it was hard to tell which aspect of the Hot Doug’s experience they would miss more, the specialty sausages and duck-fat fries or Doug Sohn’s genial presence. But now at least […]

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Best vegan deep-dish

Kitchen 17 kitchen17.com Deep-dish pizza is a pretty unlikely candidate for a vegan imitation. Can you guess why? Because a single traditional slice typically features a threatening cliff of mozzarella—never mind the chunks of sausage and pepperoni struggling against the grease that seeps out from beneath the layer of marinara on top. But the unpretentious, […]

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Best soup dumplings

Guan tang jiao zi at Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling An alternative to the difficult-to-make and notoriously unreliable buns known as xiao long bao, guan tang jiao zi, another version of soup-filled dumplings, are pot-sticker-size bundles of love inside of which the meat filling has been mixed with water, effectually creating stock when the dumpling are […]

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Best migration to the south side

Honey 1 BBQ honey1bbq.com The north side really blew it. As a glut of half-assed commercial barbecue joints opened during the past few years, Bucktown stopped showing love for Robert Adams Sr.’s hickory-smoked ribs, tips, and links at Honey 1 BBQ. So he and Robert Jr. looked south and decamped to a former beauty salon […]

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Best Italian-Japanese fusion

Chile mentaiko spaghetti at Momotaro momotarochicago.com The Japanese obsession with itameshi, or Italian food, produced a superb fusion dish sometime in the 50s, according to Momotaro executive chef Mark Hellyar, who put it on his menu. In the dish, hot pasta meets a hot sauce of Plugrá butter and Kewpie mayo, light shoyu, chile oil, […]

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Best postconfessional tacos

Outside Saint Francis of Assisi Church On weekends when the weather is right, half a dozen temporary kitchens pop up on the sidewalk next to this University Village Catholic church to crank out an impressive variety of tacos, gorditas, tortas, tostadas, elotes, and huaraches with freshly pressed masa. Business is brisk and turnover high, so […]

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Best coffee roaster to include a cassingle with your caffeine boost

Dark Matter Coffee darkmattercoffee.com Chicago has an impressive community of independent coffee roasters and a growing number of hip coffee shops to support them. Dark Matter’s lovingly crafted caffeinated drinks speak for themselves, and the folks at its Ukrainian Village headquarters don’t need to do much besides work with beans to win our approval. But […]

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Best new brewery to launch with only one beer

Alarmist Brewing alarmistbrewing.com When Gary Gulley launched Alarmist Brewing this spring—after four years of preparation, uncountable revisions of his business plan, and several rounds of investors’ meetings—he had only one beer, Pantsless Pale Ale. It was a gutsy choice, not least because pale ales and IPAs are by far the most crowded and competitive subcategories […]

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Best frozen water

JustIce icecoldjustice.com If you think ice doesn’t make a difference in a cocktail then you haven’t been to any of the 50-some bars that buy rocks from husband-and-wife duo Rosanna Lloyd and Kimpton Hotels’ manager of bar education, Mike Ryan. Available in several varieties—cubes, blocks, globes, and custom shapes—it’s so diamond clear you can read […]

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Best classic cocktails

Ward Eight wardeight.com Bourbon, Fernet, chartreuse, and a splash of cava? Gin, maple syrup, amaro, and sparkling white wine? A slurpee mixed with turtle’s blood and Bulleit rye? Stop, I want to get off! After drinking so many outrageous half-dozen-ingredient concoctions, sometimes I just want someone to serve me a fucking drink. Evanston’s unimpeachable Ward […]