Feature

17 Tricked-Out Meat and Potato Dishes

By Matt Kirouac  |  February 29, 2016

As a city, Chicago has a reputation for being Midwestern — and that means meat and potatoes. In fact, the glistening metropolitan hub — one with more world-class restaurants than almost any other city — still has trouble shaking the stigma inherent to America’s breadbasket. While restaurants throughout the city deliver unique dining experiences, others have embraced that meat and potatoes mentality in their own ways with an updated spin. We're talking beef cheek poutine, potato funnel cakes and anyone demonstrating just how creative Midwestern cuisine can be.

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  • III Forks

    We’re at a point in our culinary history where it’s now entirely possible to drink meat and potatoes as a cocktail. Well, sort of. The steak and potatoes cocktail at III Forks steakhouse is a clever spin off the restaurant’s burly menu, echoing its beefy pedigree with a next-level martini. The blend of Chopin vodka and extra dry vermouth comes with a skewer of filet mignon and roasted potato. 

    180 N. Field Blvd.; 312-938-4303

  • Rural Society

    Perhaps no place in Chicago fuses meat and potatoes as seamlessly as Rural Society. After all, the Argentine steakhouse is modeled after a culture that thrives on red meat and potatoes in many ways, shapes and forms. Here, chef de cuisine Cory Morris bridges the gap between the Midwest and South America by celebrating that shared appreciation for steaks and spuds. By utilizing the kitchen's wood-fired grill, Morris cooks up a miscellany of dishes, like the entraña steak and nury potatoes, the former a skirt steak that gets grilled and brushed with Malbec butter before being carved at the table. The potatoes, however, practically steal the show. They’re cut in such a way to look like croissants and are so rich they make most croissants taste like cardboard. Deeply buttery, they’re served with black truffle hollandaise to gild the lily just right. 

    455 N. Park Dr.; 312-840-6605

  • Forbidden Root

    Much has been made of the envelope-pushing beers being brewed at West Town’s brand new Forbidden Root. But what’s equally impressive is the food menu curated by chef Dan Weiland. By working closely with the brewers, he’s managed to cook up a menu of beer-friendly American fare, all of which strive to use similar ingredients that go into the botanical brews. One such example is his contemporary riff on meat and potatoes, a malted hanger steak and potato pancake served with porcini horseradish crème and black garlic jus. 

    1746 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-929-2202

  • Tanta

    Indicative of Chicago’s expansive culinary melting pot, meat and potatoes takes on new meaning at places like Tanta, where the Peruvian restaurant features its own colorful adaptation of the medley. The dish is called Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian beef stir-fry made with tenderloin, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic-soy sauce, rice and one of the 2,000-plus varieties of potatoes found in Peru, a country that makes the Midwest’s potato heritage look paltry by comparison. 

    118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • Cantina 1910

    At Andersonville’s inventive Cantina 1910, meat and potatoes adapt a modern Mexican accent, and the results are epic. The Bistek Añejado is a 21-day-aged butcher’s cut steak, which gets served with papas fritas, carrots and a spicy cascabel chile ketchup. 

    5025 N. Clark St.; 773-506-1910

  • LUXBAR

    Braised short ribs are nothing novel in and of themselves. Rather, it’s the meticulous technique and seasonal accompaniments that set the wintry comfort food apart from the norm. LUXBAR has a new version that they serve atop a silky sweet potato purée with roasted root vegetables, a dollop of tangy mustard and the concentrated braising jus that is dangerously tempting to lap up off the plate. 

    18 E. Bellevue Pl.; 312-642-3400

  • Atwood

    Brian Millman thinks well outside the box for his interpretation of meat and potatoes at Atwood. In lieu of beef and potatoes, he opts for game and celery root for his “hunter’s meatloaf.” The retro classic gets an upgrade from a mix of venison, elk and pork, all wrapped in bacon. Basically, an entire menagerie died for this meatloaf, so you’d better appreciate it. It gets served with a huckleberry demi, mushrooms and mashed celery root masquerading as spuds. 

    1 W. Washington St.; 312-368-1900

  • Nacional 27

    Nacional 27 has been around for years in River North, and the restaurant proves it’s still full of new tricks with dishes like a Latin-style meat and potatoes creation. It consists of a chimichurri filet served with Malbec reduction and potato-chorizo hash, and it makes the Midwestern standard look bland by comparison. 

    325 W. Huron St.; 312-664-2727 

  • Bottlefork

    The duo borrows a little inspiration from Canada at Bottlefork, where poutine serves as a comfort-food canvas. The meat in question is braised beef cheek, which gets heaped atop Kennebec fries with Wisconsin cheese curds. 

    441 N. Clark St.; 312-955-1900

  • Cafe des Architectes

    One of the most whimsical renditions of the form can be found at Cafe des Architectes, where funnel cake takes a turn for the savory. The fried dough is used as the vessel for the potatoes, which are formed into a funnel cake dough and fried. They’re served with buttermilk powder and braised beef short ribs. Altogether, it’s a decidedly upscale take on the type of state fair funnel cakes most people typically drool over.

    20 E. Chestnut St.; 312-324-4063

  • Roka Akor

    When the meat in question is some of the highest-grade Japanese beef on the market and the potatoes are actually sweet potatoes with ginger teriyaki, you know you’re treading in modern territory. Do so at Roka Akor, where A-5 Wagyu steaks can be had with artisanal salts and spicy spuds. 

    456 N. Clark St.; 312-477-7652

  • Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

    Rioja wine and Manchego cheese help set things apart at Lincoln Park’s long-standing Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!. The pioneering Spanish restaurants proves its mettle with a meaty mash-up of Rioja-braised short ribs, Manchego mashed potatoes, roasted seasonal vegetables, Rioja glaze and coriander. 

    2024 N. Halsted St.; 773-935-5000

  • Frontier

    It’s beef on top of beef on top of frites at Frontier, the restaurant that always manages to cook up newfangled tricks when it comes to meat. For this dish, Wagyu bacon gets wrapped around Wagyu sirloin flap and it’s all served with yuca frites and butter-poached endive. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. 

    1072 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-4322

  • Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

    Meat and potatoes are familiar fodder for steakhouses, but Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse manages to think outside the box with a combo of prime cushion cut short rib with Chateau potato, butter-poached vegetables and crispy tobacco onions. That cushion cut refers to the style of butchering, which lends a roughly three-inch slab of tender meat. 

    58 E. Oak St.; 312-888-2499

  • Ruxbin

    Steak frites gets an upgrade at Ruxbin, which incidentally is probably far from the first place you’d expect to find such a thing. Leave it to those crafty kitchen wizards to elevate the standard by pairing Oregon-raised hanger steak with garlic fries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only as an option on the five-course tasting menu. 

    851 N. Ashland Ave.; 312-624-8509

  • Bistronomic

    Bistronomic is another prime spot for steak frites. The contemporary French restaurant is rightfully renowned for its rendition of this classic, here made with seared New York strip loin, red wine reduction and an accompanying heap of frites tossed with black truffle salt and Parmesan shavings. 

    840 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-944-8400

  • GreenRiver

    Go big at GreenRiver, where chef Aaron Lirette presents dry-aged rib-eye whole at the table before taking it back to the kitchen to prepare and add some finesse. The steaks are served with maitake mushrooms, cippolini onion, potato purée and a bone marrow jus that acts as a decadent sauce adjoining the potatoes. (Photo by Galdones Photography)

    259 E. Erie St.; 312-337-0101