Who says a cozy neighborhood joint has to be boring? The Neighborhood Stars category is filled with spots pushing the boundaries of flavor.
This time a year ago, few had heard about the hybrid Chinese-Portuguese cuisine on the tiny island of Macau. Now, thanks to a duo of smart chefs, Macanese cuisine is in the spotlight in Fat Rice's wildly popular Logan Square restaurant. The no-reservations policy means diners should arrive by 6 to avoid waiting for the restaurant's signature dish, a shareable rice dish filled with Chinese sausage, Portuguese chicken, roast pork, linguiça, salted duck and littleneck clams.
A cozy restaurant with its mismatched chairs and tchotchke-covered bookshelves is attracting city-dwellers to nearby Evanston. Dishes such as grilled Slagel Farm steak with braised roma beans, smashed potatoes and sorrel butter, or wood-oven-roasted pork chop with cucumber, dill crème fraîche and market greens are complemented by light cocktails or wine by the glass.
Table, Donkey & Stick
The Alpine region gets much more attention for its skiing than for its eating, but chef Scott Manley is bringing the mountain fare of France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Slovenia into the spotlight. This translates to soft pretzels with Gruyère fondue, as well as an Alpine Burger with Bodensee Butterkase, onion marmalade, latkes, horseradish aïoli and apple mustarda on a pretzel bun, best paired with a German beer.