Slideshow: Have an Offal Halloween: 18 Dishes With Off Cuts We Love in Chicago

Tongue: Gyūtan at Sumi Robata Bar
Tongue: Gyūtan at Sumi Robata Bar

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I have about a 50 percent success rate with tongue; for every wonderfully tender bite, I've had to gnaw through a tough and funky hunk of rubber. I always assumed that low and slow was the only way to go, and that bad versions just needed more time. But Sumi upturned that assumption. First time I tried Sumi's grilled beef tongue, called gyutan, I asked chef Gene Kato what he had done to the meat to make it so tender. His answer: nothing. The tongue was simply sliced, salted, and grilled—no additional cooking required. Of course, the tongue was from a very specific source, so maybe that's the secret. Regardless, I've never had a beefier or more flavorful tongue experience.

Sumi Robata Bar, 702 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (map)

Face: Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face at Girl & the Goat
Face: Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face at Girl & the Goat

[Photograph: Huge Galdones]

"The wood oven roasted pig face at Girl & the Goat is exactly what it sounds like: parts of a pig's face are roasted in a wood fired oven. It's also been a fixture on the menu since chef Stephanie Izard first opened the incredibly popular West Loop restaurant back in 2010. So much more goes into the dish than the title lets on. It's the multitude of harmonized flavors and textures that make the roasted pig face of one my favorite dishes ever." Read more here >>

Girl & the Goat, 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (map); 312-492-6262

Ear: Crispy Pig Ears at Nightwood ($6)
Ear: Crispy Pig Ears at Nightwood ($6)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The title of this Nightwood classic is right on: each one of these suckers is teeth-shatteringly crispy. But there's more to this dish than just texture. They are also slightly sweet, which helps balance out the salty, meaty aspects of the pork. Still, it's impossible to properly explain why I polished of a whole order of these before the main course arrived." Read more here >>

Nightwood2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-526-3385

Neck: Lamb Neck Sloppy Joe at Red Door ($10)
Neck: Lamb Neck Sloppy Joe at Red Door ($10)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"I loved the texture of the lamb, and the fact that it wasn't too greasy. The mushrooms on top look a little out of place, but they are pickled and help balance things out. The waitress claimed that this was the most popular item on the menu, and it's easy to see why." Read more here >>

Red Door, 2118 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 858-232-1874; reddoorchicago.com

Cheek: Beef Cheek Barbacoa at La Favorita #2
Cheek: Beef Cheek Barbacoa at La Favorita #2

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Rosa Garcia has been making her house specialty, beef cheek barbacoa, for the last thirty-six years. It's only available Saturday and Sunday, and the restaurant goes through 600 pounds of it. The cheeks are salted and then placed in a big old simmering pot with garlic, where they cook until fall-apart tender. You buy it by the pound. Add on a package of freshly delivered tortillas, and they comp bags of chopped onion and cilantro along with some salsa." Read more here >>

La Favorita #2, 1925 South May Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-666-8222

Tail: Spicy Pigtail Ramen at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar ($13)
Tail: Spicy Pigtail Ramen at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar ($13)

[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

"Union Sushi has taken the ambitious step to make all of its ramen noodles in-house, by hand, following a recipe that includes precise proportions of three different flours. The extra work pays off with thick, plump, light, extremely fresh-tasting noodles... I was sad to see Union's oxtail ramen depart the menu (it ranked #7 in our 2011 round-up), but the spicy pigtail carries the torch well." Read more here >>

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, 230 W Erie St, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-662-4888

Blood: Black Pudding at Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods
Blood: Black Pudding at Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

"In the Spencer's frozen case, it comes frozen in logs; to cook, you simply peel back the plastic sheath, slice and fry, along with the rest of the ingredients except the beans. The black pudding is rich and crisps up nicely." Read more here >>

Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods, 1405 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613 (map); 312-415-6919

Intestines: Vienna Beef Natural Casing Hot Dog
Intestines: Vienna Beef Natural Casing Hot Dog

Hot Dog and Fries at Redhot Ranch [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The best Chicago hot dog comes with a natural casing... What's a natural casing? It's just what it sounds like, usually made from sheep intestine, and, sometimes with larger ones, from a pig's. It's the way all hot dogs used to be made, and it's the way almost all other sausages still are." Read more here >>

Vienna Beef Factory Store & Cafe, 2501 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-435-2277

Tendon: Salt and Vinegar Beef Tendon Chips at The Purple Pig ($9.00)
Tendon: Salt and Vinegar Beef Tendon Chips at The Purple Pig ($9.00)

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

"One bite into the Salt and Vinegar Beef Tendon Chips, and I feel mislead. I've been carrying on, assuming that the best rinds come from pork, when this dish has been patiently awaiting me the whole time. Am I allowed to prefer beef in this context? Do I need to turn in my credentials? In any event, the vinegar taste is strong, in line with the theme, and the chips themselves practically melt in your mouth after first crunch. The fried parsley sprigs are a nice touch too, distilling concentrated parsley flavor into the dish and then disappearing quicker then they came." Read more here >>

The Purple Pig, 500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 312-464-1744

Headcheese: Classic Bánh Mì at Saigon Sisters ($7.00)
Headcheese: Classic Bánh Mì at Saigon Sisters ($7.00)

Saigon Sisters came in second in our list of the best bánh mì. While all the details of the sandwich are carefully looked after, including the "crusty and warm" bread and the "sweet and crunchy carrots and daikon," it was the "fantastic" headcheese that really set this sandwich apart. Read more here >>

Saigon Sisters, 567 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (map); 312-496-0090; saigonsisters.com‎

Head: Cabeza Taco at Tacos D.F. at the Maxwell Street Market
Head: Cabeza Taco at Tacos D.F. at the Maxwell Street Market

[Photograph: Dennis Lee]

"There's a ton of collagen in this meat, which breaks down into gelatin after being cooked slowly for a long time. Each bite is almost velvety in texture, and it'll leave that telltale stickiness on your lips when you're done. Properly cooked oxtail has the same quality, so if you've ever mowed down on cow tail, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. If you've never tried it and you like beef, it's not scary, so dig in."Read more here >>

Maxwell Street Market, 800 S Desplaines St., Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-745-4676

Marrow: Roasted Bone Marrow at Revolution Brewing ($14) f
Marrow: Roasted Bone Marrow at Revolution Brewing ($14) f

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

"The roasted bone marrow is a plate of intimidating beauty. I've heard it referred to as meat butter, which isn't too far off. Rich and fatty, the warm, semi-gelatinous goo spreads easily over the provided bread vessels. This also looks a little less Neanderthal-y than sucking it directly out of the halved bones. The pile comes handsomely adorned with frisee, excellent pickled cherries, and radishes in a light maple vinaigrette." Read more here >>

Revolution Brewing, 2323 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-227-2739

Gizzard: Chicken Gizzards Dinner at Shark's Fish and Chicken ($5.99)
Gizzard: Chicken Gizzards Dinner at Shark's Fish and Chicken ($5.99)

[Photograph: Dennis Lee]

"Gizzards are typically pretty chewy, but in this case, most are tender without too much connective tissue, though there's a few gristly ones in the lot. Or, if this entire paragraph grossed you out, then don't order either." Read more here >>

Shark's Fish and Chicken, 420 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60605 (map); 312-427-2727

Brain: Mughuz Masala at at Shan Restaurant ($8.99)
Brain: Mughuz Masala at at Shan Restaurant ($8.99)

[Photograph: Dennis Lee]

"These lamb brains are stewed in a strong spice blend packed with coriander, garlic, chili, and ginger. If you've never had brains, which I'm guessing some of you haven't, they have the texture of a soft custard with a very mild and rich flavor, almost like bone marrow, but with a slightly metallic aftertaste. The aftertaste isn't off-putting, but it's a hallmark flavor of cranial delight. Personally, I think they're awesome, and if you're on the fence, don't think about it too much (get it?) and give them a shot." Read more here >>

Shan Restaurant, 5060 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640 (map); 773-769-4961