Slideshow: Better with Bacon: 13 Bacon Dishes We Love in Chicago

Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates with Smoked Bacon and Piquillo Pepper-Tomato Sauce ($12.00)
Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates with Smoked Bacon and Piquillo Pepper-Tomato Sauce ($12.00)
I could spout off all the accolades Avec's chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon has received over the years (it's been a mainstay on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2003), but until last week I'd never tried them. Sure, they sounded good, but isn't wrapping bacon around things kind of a crutch? But then I actually bit in and I realized how wrong I was to consider doubting them. Writers have been describing these things for years, but to me the mix of smoky bacon, sweet dates, rich chorizo, and tangy tomato sauce strangely tastes like the best barbecue ribs you can imagine (minus the bones, obviously). They are genuinely astonishing, and as I watched dozens upon dozens of orders being dished during my dinner, other people obviously agree.

Avec, 615 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (map); 312-377-2002; avecrestaurant.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Bacon Fat Popcorn at Revolution Brewing ($5.00)
Bacon Fat Popcorn at Revolution Brewing ($5.00)
Everyone knows that salty bar snacks go great with beer, but most of the time you don't even need to know what it's in the bowl before you reach in. But Revolution Brewing changed all that with the bacon fat popcorn, which works as a satisfying prelude to the rest of the menu.

Revolution Brewing, 2323 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-227-2739; revbrew.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Three Little Piggy Sandwich from the Silver Palm ($13.95)
Three Little Piggy Sandwich from the Silver Palm ($13.95)
"The secret to the Three Little Piggy's success is that it's a restrained gut-busting sandwich. While there is bacon, there's no 2-inch hunk of fatty pork belly to get through. The ingredients could have added up to a decadent mess, but instead all the elements are able to make their presence known." Read more here >>

The Silver Palm, 768 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (map); 312-666-9322; thesilverpalmrestaurant.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

BLT at The Old Oak Tap ($10.00)
BLT at The Old Oak Tap ($10.00)
"What is the Old Oak Tap doing serving a BLT in the winter? This version gets around that problem by subbing in fried green tomatoes. Coated in cornmeal, the thick slice is slightly crunchy and acidic. Along with extra crunchy strips of maplewood smoked bacon (the B ) and arugula (the L), the sandwich also adds a smear of pimento cheese. They all combine to make a satisfying and salty sandwich." Read more here >>

Old Oak Tap, 2109 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-772-0406; theoldoaktap.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Maple Bacon Long John at Glazed and Infused ($3.00)
Maple Bacon Long John at Glazed and Infused ($3.00)
"No trip to Glazed & Infused would be complete without a Maple Bacon Long John ($3.00). I've never really had much luck with the maple/bacon combo: salty, sweet, and decadent is a good idea in theory, but fatty, chewy, and saccharine more closely describes my past experiences. Not so today: meet your once and future doughnut. Long johns are an old school favorite of mine, and the chewy, rich maple glazed topped specimen here does not disappoint. The peppered bacon is properly cooked, with a crisp exterior and just enough give to keep it from shattering." Read more here >>

Glazed & Infused, 813 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-226-5556; goglazed.com

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)
The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)
"The soft bun also allows you to focus more of your attention on the house-made bacon, which is thick-cut and smoky. It's more than capable of carrying the sandwich, but the other ingredients hold their own. Instead of watery pieces of lettuce, baby spinach is layered on. A sun-dried tomato aioli takes the place of the usual mealy tomato. The result is sandwich of contrasts: salty and sweet, soft and crunchy, meaty and vegetable-y (that's a word, right?)." Read more here >>

Mr Spanky's, 335 West 31st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616 (map); 312-450-3069; mrspankys.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Grilled Sausage & Waffles at Old Town Social ($12.00)
Grilled Sausage & Waffles at Old Town Social ($12.00)
Ever feel a little guilty for ordering bacon AND sausage with your breakfast? Or for ordering breakfast for dinner? Well, this sneaky dish eases your pain in more ways than one. Available around the clock, the grilled sausage and waffles at Old Town Social hides crunchy bits of bacon inside the cornmeal-based waffle batter, which lend a charred, smoky element to these fluffy and crisp Belgian-style beauties. With the extra kick of savory flavor, these waffles beg even louder to be complemented by the sweet embrace of maple syrup. And the fact that you're going whole hog on some...well, hog...will fly quietly under the radar. The juicy sausage slices on top add more salt and fat into the mix. Oh how quaint chicken and waffles suddenly seem when stacked up next to this intensely satisfying (read: artery-clogging) plate.

Old Town Social, 455 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610 (map); 312-266-2277; oldtownsocial.com

[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

Bacon Chocolate Chip Soft Serve at Belly Shack ($4.00)
Bacon Chocolate Chip Soft Serve at Belly Shack ($4.00)
"With the trend of putting bacon on absolutely everything winding down, now is a great time to step back and appreciate the cases when the crispy pork strips genuinely did improve a dish. That's the case with the bacon chocolate soft serve at Belly Shack, which never seems unwieldy or too fatty. Instead, the crumpled bacon bits add a small burst of salty, porky goodness, while also breaking up the smooth soft serve." Read more here >>

Belly Shack, 1912 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-252-1414; bellyshack.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Kuma Burger at Kuma's Corner ($10.00)
Kuma Burger at Kuma's Corner ($10.00)
"The Kuma Burger features 10 ounces of coarsely ground beef—like every burger at Kuma's—and is topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and a fried egg. Between the juice from the meat and the egg yolk, there seems to be danger of making an inedible mess after a couple of bites. But the pretzel roll on which every burger at Kuma's is served is capable of absorbing an astounding amount of liquid." Read more here >>

Kuma's Corner, 2900 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-604-8769; kumascorner.com

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

Spaghetti Carbonara at Riccardo Trattoria ($16)
Spaghetti Carbonara at Riccardo Trattoria ($16)

"Tender strands of pasta come dressed in a rich sauce of bacon, egg yolk, and pecorino cheese. I could really geek out here on the finer points of noodle texture, sauce viscosity and adhesion, and ingredient-driven seasoning management, but that kind of tech talk seems too architectural when what we have here is art on the plate." Read more here >>

Riccardo Trattoria, 2119 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-549-0038; riccardotrattoria.com