Nacional 27, whose name refers to the 27 recognized Latin American countries, offers a unique menu featuring a wide range of thrilling Latin American favorites. Indeed, from chimichurri sauce to garlic-roasted chicken Cubano, the skilled kitchen staff goes the extra mile to make sure even novices find something suited to their fancy. After hours, this hip restaurant turns into a nightclub that emanates the spicy grooves of salsa, merengue and quebradita, making it one of the hippest destinations in town. Parking can be tricky in this area so opt for valet or, better yet, cab it. You'll find plenty of cabs to take you home afterward.
With three locations, Coast is known for its high quality sushi coupled with outstanding service. Weekends can get loud and very busy, especially at its city locations. The Bucktown hotspot (BYOB) features a warm and sexy interior while its South Loop locale is a bit more stark and modern in ambiance. Its Evanston spot gives North Shore diners many of its signature dishes including its popular Coast Crab maki roll which features king crab, scallion in spicy mayo with tempura crumb or the White Dragon roll with shrimp tempura, wasabi tobiko, avocado and cream cheese. For those craving more traditional fare, the menu rounds out its maki roll and sashimi options with dishes like seared tuna, filet mignon and Yakisoba stir-fried noodles with fresh vegetables.
Family-owned since 1948, this hot dog drive-in (or eat-in) is a local institution, not only for its great menu but for its enormous, roof-top wiener mascots. Don't call them hot dogs, though. They're Superdawgs. Served in a box with the trademark "Hiya!" phrase on the front, the supersized dogs are nestled in poppy-seed buns and done up with relish, pickle spears, hot peppers, and pickled tomatoes. They come with hot, salt-sprinkled fries crammed into the box. Other possibilities: burgers, chicken breast sandwiches, Polish sausages, fish sandwiches, and ice cream. A kitschy classic that absolutely lives up to the hype.
Caf� Ba Ba Reeba! may be Chicago's first tapas bar but that alone isn't what keeps people coming back. It's one of the best places to find authentic tapas and sangria (it's a bit on the sweeter side). Patatas bravas come with generous sized potato chunks and the bacon-wrapped dates arrive with apple chunks and vinegar to cut the sweetness. The dates literally melt in your mouth. If you're game to learn how to make paella at home, the executive chef invites you to his Paella Cooking Demo class once a month where you'll not only perfect your paella but enjoy a tapas lunch complete with wine. Expect to wait for a table, reservations are encouraged although not accepted for outdoor patio seating. Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, too.
There is some debate among diners on whether the pizza here is considered deep dish or pan pizza. Pequod's uses the terms interchangeably but once you get past the debate, few will argue that its caramelized crust is stuff of pizza dreams. Their deep dish pizzas are baked in cast iron pans blackened by decades of seasoning. The overflowing cheese emerges from the oven as a halo of caramelized crust. The sausage is particularly tasty since it's seasoned with spices. It has two locations. The Lincoln Park location, which is near the DePaul University campus, is open until 2am on the weekends but the Morton Grove location closes at 10pm.
Be careful as you drive by this Wicker Park pizzeria and brewery because it's likely there are people spilling out into the street since it's usually very packed. Not only can you enjoy award-winning pizzas and home brewed beer but it's a great location to watch sports on its flat screens that line the walls. Once you get past the party-like atmosphere, dig into the huge pizzas including a white sauce pizza (plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic and mozzarella cheese). If you like clams, try the clams and onions white sauce pizza. Live band karaoke rocks the house at 11pm on Saturdays.
Caf� Iberico has both fans and foes but there is a reason this Spanish restaurant continues to be popular: it attracts a young, attractive crowd that enjoys the upbeat festive atmosphere (read: loud) and abundant selection of cold and hot tapas ($2-7 each) like jamon iberico, baked goat cheese, vegetarian Spanish omelets, chicken brochette with caramelized onions or grilled octopus. Deli-Iberico sells deli foods by the pound so you can recreate your favorites at home. Reservations vary by day and time. Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more on all evenings except for Friday and Saturday nights and expect to wait for a table on those evenings, especially if you have a large party.
Sunda is an award-winning restaurant at the vanguard of America's New Asian movement showcasing Eastern Asian and Southeast Asian regional cuisine. The surprising, simple, flavorful dishes are served and shared while a full sushi bar provides an assortment of sushi, sashimi and nigiri options in a stylish and chic space that includes a main dining room, cocktail lounge and sushi bar. Specialties includes its signature Crispy Rice with Toppings (Hand-Cut Spicy Tuna, Seared Kobe Beef Tartare and Spicy Shrimp Tempura); Crab-Crusted Ahi Tuna with Japanese Hot Mustard Soy Glaze; Malay-Style Chilean Sea Bass with Coriander, Lemongrass, Miso, Chilis, and Curried Cauliflower and Crispy Pata (Confit Pork Shank with Garlic-Foie Gras Gravy and Watercress Salad).
The light streaming through the massive, arched windows enhance the vibrant colors of this Catalan restaurant located in the Blackstone Hotel. The tables and chairs carry off sleek, modern lines that are contrasted with bright greens and oranges and rich purples. It seems more like a Spanish market than a restaurant. The festive ambiance is further enhanced by the selection of small dishes. Traditional tapas like octopus with smoked paprika can be found alongside flatbreads served with beef shortribs, horseradish and bacon. There's even the option for ordering a whole roasted suckling pig, which the chef will gladly carve himself.
Best known for its extensive whiskey selection (148 selections currently available), the bar and restaurant offers an ever-changing menu with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. Chef Jared Wentworth keeps things fresh but fun with dishes that delight all of your senses including taste, sight and smell. Once you walk in there is no mistake that this is a Logan Square spot complete with the dark wood d�cor, dim lighting in the front and all of the bartenders sport plaid shirts and beards. Consider a flight offering or ask which whiskeys are available for tastings. There are usually a few dozen whiskeys available daily for $3 a shot.