Beer Braised Rabbit at Sable ($18)
The beer braised rabbit at Sable is the comfort dish that you wouldn't mind bringing to the ball. What sounds on the menu like a seemingly straightforward dish, arrives elegantly arranged and intricately spiced. As is traditional, the rabbit is served with some slightly crunchy spätzle, which come coated in a grainy mustard that isn't as pungent as you'd imagine.
Rabbit Rossini at Storefront Company ($16)
Though Storefront Company's rabbit is the most gussied up and manipulated dish of the bunch—you'll have to bite through black truffles and sautéed foie gras before even getting to the meat—this is probably the purest expression of rabbit we found. That is, it is just slightly gamey, juicy, and distinct enough that you'd never say it tastes like chicken. It's a small appetizer, but it's one that you'll want to cut up into the tiniest cubes possible so you can prolong the enjoyment.
Strozzapreti and Rabbit Sugo at Balena ($15)
Balena is an Italian-inspired restaurant, so it makes sense that the restaurant would have a classic Italian rabbit dish. Rabbit sugo is kind of like a rabbit ragu, featuring braised meat that is punctuated by briny olives and rosemary. It's served with strozzapreti, which like all the pasta at Balena, is handmade.
[Photograph: Huge Galdones]
Grilled Rabbit at La Casa de Samuel ($12.95)
La Casa de Samuel's menu claims that the rabbit is grilled, and that may very well be the case, but the rabbit's crisp, crunchy skin tastes like the best pork cracklings you can imagine. Whether or not this is fried, it's easily one of the tastiest rabbit dishes around. The green chile sauce is more acidic than spicy, letting the flavor of the succulent rabbit really stand out. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the dish comes with a stack of the restaurant's outstanding fresh tortillas.
Lapin Sauté Chasseur at Le Bouchon ($19.50)
Of course, the French know what to do with rabbits, so it makes sense that you'd find the meat at this boisterous and packed bistro in Bucktown. There you can get rabbit served simply with mushrooms and a white wine sauce, but it's mostly about the meat. The sauce is extremely mild, and the pasta underneath is a complete afterthought. Good thing the meat is juicy and properly seasoned.
Crisp Rabbit Salad at The Gage ($14)
Believe me, there is rabbit underneath the pile of greens, and it is, as advertised, crisp. But the real story is how the braised rabbit has a texture and fattiness of duck confit. This is all another way of saying that a small forkful of the delicious meat goes a long way, and it's lucky that the greens are bitter enough to help to balance the fat. As for the white specks, the sprinkles are actually puffed rice, and they add a pleasing crunch to each bite.
Half Rotisserie Rabbit at El Llano ($7.95)
It doesn't take much effort to find a joint in this town serving grilled chicken, but it is hard to find one that cooks with charcoal and knows how to do it well. El Llano, a mini chain that includes a few Brasa Roja locations, is one of the better options. Plus, you can order a whole or half grilled rabbit for cheap. Along with the meat, you get a feast of sides dishes, including rice, lettuce, plantains, potatoes, and fried yuca.
Rabbit & Dumplings at The Frontier ($14)
The Frontier is no stranger to exotic meats—just watch out for that stuffed bear in the middle of the place—but there is nothing intentionally shocking about the braised rabbit dish. This is straight up comfort food, with some smooth sweet potato dumplings balancing the rich rabbit gravy. It'd all be a bit too comforting if it weren't for the bright green Brussels sprouts perched on top.