5 Best New Bites & Sips

September 18 2013 - 9:00 AM

Negroni slushies, crab brain fried rice, and enough doughnut ice cream sandwiches to fill Lake Michigan…these are just a few of the (much buzzed about) items from the hottest Chicago restaurants this summer. Some of them you’re tired of hearing about – and other’s we’re still not tired of talking about. Here are some of the most unforgettable dishes of the summer.


1. Brambleberry Crisp Ice Cream, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Let’s start with the most recent first. Jeni’s opened up on Southport just this past weekend, and the hype is certainly warranted. Jeni’s is known for extraordinary flavors, and they’re sure to give Black Dog Gelato some stiff competition. Brown Butter Almond Crisp and Roasted Strawberries Buttermilk are just a few of the standout flavors. My personal favorite was the Brambleberry Crisp. Huge chunks of tart berries, sweet pie topping. It was magical. Oh, and it’s open ’til 11 pm, so I’ll be there every night of the week.

2. Mushroom & Rapini Tart, Endgrain

Everyone is talking about Endgrain’s doughnuts, but it’s their food that’s really making waves. Everything tastes and looks simply homemade. The tart makes an appearance on the brunch and dinner menus, and it’s way better than expected. The pastry dough is buttery and flaky. The parmesan and greens add a nice, light touch to the hearty mushrooms and rapini. There’s a chance this could be seasonal, so stop by Endgrain for the newest tart on the menu.

3. Pescado Frito, Tanta

I’ve been nonstop thinking about this incredible fried fish ever since I my visit to Tanta a few weeks ago. This unassuming River North spot has some of the most interesting food I’ve eaten in a long time. While it isn’t like any Peruvian food I’ve eaten before, the fusion of Japanese and Spanish flavors make it incredibly unique. The pescado frito is a must-try if you are with a group. Pieces of the fish are fried in bite-sized pieces and tossed in an incredible sweet sauce. It’s served on a plate with the whole fried fish, so you can eat the head or pick of what’s left of the flesh…or just stare at it staring back at you.

4. Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri, Three Dots and a Dash

I’ll be honest with you. Pretty much every drink you order at Bub City’s new basement bar is going to be great. Drinks are strong, served in decorative glasses with even more decorative adornments. The Banana Daiquiri is topped with half of a banana that’s made to look like a dolphin. I sipped a few friends’ drinks, and I thought my ice blended drink was strong yet a bit more palatable, without any heavy whiskey flavors like a number of the other drinks. Note: The skulls on the menu are there for a reason. Drink with caution, or with a friend.

5. Coccoli, Siena Tavern

If fried dough is on the menu, it’s really a no-brainer that you need to order it. Chef Fabio Viviani got it right with the coccoli: fried dough served with stracchino cheese, prosciutto and truffle honey. You can make your own mini sandwiches, layering in cheese and meat into the dough, and drizzling with fragrant honey. Or you can just eat the crispy dough and large hunks of cheese. It’s a great appetizer for sharing and is one of many dishes worth trying on the menu.