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]