It’s hard not to love stuffed food; it's like the food equivalent of opening a present. And with a host of sweet and savory fillings, there are so many foods that can be stuffed. From sausage-stuffed squid to deli sandwich-inspired dumplings to fish 'n' chips samosas — here are 11 one-of-a-kind stuffed foods worth filling up on in Chicago.
Croque Madame Egg Roll at Cochon Volant Brasserie
For a playfully handheld version of the French egg-topped ham and cheese sandwich, Loop bistro Cochon Volant rolls thin feuilles de brick pastry around country ham, aged Gruyère, fine herbs and béchamel made with cured egg yolk then fries it to a crisp, golden finish and pairs it with zingy hot French mustard for dunking (shown at top of this article).
100 W. Monroe St.; 312-754-6560
Stuffed Squid at MFK
Taking advantage of the fact that squid come naturally stuffing-ready, seaside-focused MFK fills the tasty little cephalopods with housemade sweet-spicy Chinese pork sausage seasoned with Lan Chi (Chinese chile paste) and brown sugar. After a few quick turns on the grill, the charred, toothy squid are drizzled with creamy cashew vinaigrette and dotted with pickled radishes for bite and texture.
432 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-857-2540
Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs at Atwood
Seeing how an egg technically comes pre-stuffed, deviled eggs could be considered cheating. But you should break the rules for Atwood Café’s purple-hued take on this classic retro appetizer (shown below). Springy boiled egg whites are pickled in a mixture of raw beets, cardamom, star anise and champagne and apple cider vinegar, then piped full of egg yolks, mayo and black truffle oil, and topped with fried shiitake mushroom chips and micro arugula.
1 W. Washington St.; 312-368-1900
Stuffed Cabbage at Monteverde
West Loop newcomer Monteverde may be best known for chef Sarah Grueneberg’s expert housemade pastas (several of them filled), but this soulful dish from her grandmother predates her mastery of fresh pastas. Cabbage leaves are stuffed with cooked-down cabbage hearts, Parmigiano Reggiano, Saltine cracker crumbs (“has to be Saltines!”), eggs, fresh thyme, allspice and green peppercorn then oven roasted and served atop earthy mushroom Bolognese and creamy polenta (shown below).
1020 W. Madison St.; 312-888-3041
Egg Roll Trio at Dream Café & Grill
The year-old Caribbean-leaning Dream Café in Englewood found some early devotees with its islands-meets-Southern comfort-food egg roll trio. Egg roll wrappers are filled with either vegan collard greens, creamy mac 'n' cheese or spicy jerk chicken then deep-fried to golden brown. To please both sweet- and heat-seeking palates, the trio arrives with sweet apple mango and heat-packed honey-Sriracha dipping sauces.
748 W. 61st St.; 773-891-5334
Nutella Calzone at Bar Siena
We’d be perfectly content if Bar Siena stuffed pizza dough with chocolate-hazelnut spread and called it a day, but this West Loop spot upped the ante on its sweet calzone by swapping pizza dough for light-as-air puff pastry. It melts the already-velvety Nutella as it puffs and bakes (shown below), then gets gilded with dark chocolate sauce, caramelized hazelnuts and a scoop of vanilla gelato.
832 W. Randolph St.; 312-492-7775
Takoyaki at Yusho
A beloved Japanese street-food import, this ball-shaped snack is typically made up of wheat-based dough stuffed with octopus. Yusho’s takoyaki, however, are stuffed with grilled river eel and umami-rich braised kelp, then drizzled with Thai curry for a Southeast Asian–inflected, but still addicting, version.
2853 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-904-8558
Salt Cod Samosa at Pub Royale
The salt cod samosas (shown below) at Pub Royale encapsulate the restaurant's Anglo-Indian vibe in filled pastry form. Indian dough made from flour, canola oil, water and baking soda is packed with boiled potatoes, milk-boiled salt cod, cream cheese, onion, garlic, thyme, butter and black pepper before deep-frying and serving with malt vinegar chutney. Indian street food meets fish 'n' chips.
2049 W. Division St.; 773-661-6874
Pastrami Dumpling at Packed
One of the buzzier openings so far in 2016, Packed in Hyde Park is quite literally always…packed. And it’s no wonder with its monthly rotating menu of out-of-the-box dumplings — from “ladled” soup dumplings that burst in your mouth with flavors like posole or Manhattan clam chowder to “packed” dumplings with lamb, onion and tzatziki sauce or early favorite pastrami (shown below), with smoky housemade brisket, pumpernickel, beer-braised onions, pickled green onions and a smear of violet mustard.
1321 E. 57th St.; 312-219-6544
Bomboloni at Formento’s
Like all versed in the world sweet fried pastries, Italians understand that they can only get better with the addition of creamy, jammy and/or chocolaty fillings. Case in point: bomboloni. Formento’s does right by these filled Italian donuts with a yeasty, sugar-dusted version packed a seasonally changing array of sweet fillers — though on most days you can expect Nutella, raspberry jam (pictured) or vanilla rum cream.
925 W. Randolph St.; 312-690-7295
Rockit Pockit at Rockit Bar & Grill
More than one of us has probably succumbed to a Hot Pocket in an hour of drunken hunger. Luckily, Rockit has avenged the freezer-aisle pastry with a more dignified version — stuffing chopped steak, caramelized onions, American cheese and Rockit sauce in a wonton wrapper and deep-frying till golden outside and bubbling inside.
22 W. Hubbard St.; 312-645-6000