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Reviews of fried food in Chicago.

TGI Fry-Day: Chicken Thigh Flautas at Belly Shack

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Though you can never quite predict what Belly Shack will next have on its menu (a hot dog, a jibarito, and chicken wings?), I've learned to just accept whatever the special is and order it. But the general excellence of the food here didn't prepare me for the flautas. Three tortillas are wrapped up with shredded chicken thigh and fried until crisp. They are topped with a mix of shredded cabbage and sliced radish mix that is fresh and extra crunchy.

While great, it's what the flautas are sitting on that intrigued me the most. The refried beans are mixed with the restaurant's own Belly Smoke sauce, a complex chipotle hot sauce. It lends heat, smoke, and a depth to every bite, so don't feel the least bit ashamed of scooping every last bit of it up with your spoon. The dish was only a special when I visited, but I called to make sure it would be available this weekend. Hopefully it will make the jump to the permanent menu—it certainly deserves the honor.

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