Glazed Chestnut Doughnut from The Doughnut Vault
Ah, come on. Of course I had to include the ridiculously light and and airy specimens from this hyped doughnut shop. While all the offerings from this absurdly small shop were up for the top spot, the chestnut glazed yeast-style doughnuts were simply the one that I ate the fastest. That should count for something.
Caneton Rouennais à la Presse Duck from Next
This show-stopping duck course from Next's opening Paris 1906 menu is no more. Since Next changes its menu every three months, you'll now experience Childhood and a deconstructed burger. That's probably a good thing. This restaurant is all about moving forward. Still, that doesn't mean I have to stop thinking about the absurdly rich sauce, made by crushing the duck's carcass in a press, and the perfectly cooked breast meat. Hey, at least I can try to recreate it at home.
Tripe Tacos from La Chaparrita Taqueria #1
I wasn't looking for a way to get more tripe in my life, and I'm not one of those people who gravitates towards the innards because I want to prove something. No, the reason to get the tripe here is to experience crispy little shards of meat that are still perfectly tender. Other fillings wish they could achieve both so easily.
La Chaparrita Taqueria #1, 2500 S Whipple, Chicago, IL 60623 (map); 773-254-0975
Grilled Chicken Wings from Yusho
I feel kind of bad about writing about the ramen at the recently opened Yusho, not because it was bad (the broth was actually very good), but because it is not the real reason to go to Matthias Merges's new Logan Square restaurant. This is a yakatori-inspired joint, and basically anything on a skewer is worth ordering. That's especially true of the grilled chicken wings, a boneless hunk of caramelized meat served with bonito salt and lime.
Pizzettes from Floriole Cafe & Bakery
If Great Lake taught me anything, it's that seriously made bread can make an excellent pizza crust. So it makes sense that one of the best bakeries in town, Floriole Cafe & Bakery, would kick out a startlingly good little pizza. Featuring great hole structure, the crust is crispy without being crunchy. Floriole also showcase a baker's restraint with toppings, adding just enough cheese and sauce to make sure each bite has what it needs.
Pasta Pappardelle Lamb Ragu ($21) from Nostrano
Okay, this is kind of a cheating, but hear me out. Sure, Nostrano is located in Madison, WI, but it's owned and operated by two former Chicago chefs (Elizabeth and Tim Dahl). And to be honest, I'm having a hard time thinking of a better pasta dish I had than this one.
La Colombe's Haiti Blue Forest Blend
I've been addicted to coffee since age 18, but I've never been especially loyal to a specific blend or brand. Then I tasted La Colombe's Haiti Blue Forest blend, freaked out, and refused to drink any other coffee for three months. Smooth, with little to no bitterness, it was my go-to cup for most of the year.
Turduckel from iNG
You could blame the Miracle Berry, which subverted my tastes buds and made everything taste sweet, but it was actually wearing off by that point in the meal. No, I think the main course of iNG's Thanksgiving meal was just an expertly crafted course, featuring quail, duck confit, and turkey leg meat. Tender without being too fatty, this needed no pills to fully appreciate.