Food & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

In the Neighborhood: Logan Square

Longman & Eagle, Lula Cafe, Cocina Boricua, and more

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Accanto

2171 N. Milwaukee | 773-227-2727

$$$$

ITALIAN | DINNER: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL MIDNIGHT; SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY TILL 11

Accanto shares a building and an owner with Lucky Vito's Pizzeria—but that's about all. With a separate entrance and brown-and-beige decor, the little restaurant exudes the fine-dining aesthetic of another era: polished tables set with look-of-leather runners, shiny silver show plates, and textured-gold hardcover menus. Chef Domenico Acampura is from Milan (where he was awarded a Michelin star), but his small menu is as much continental as Italian, with contemporary twists. In the case of lobster bisque that meant a flavorful soup poured tableside over morsels of lobster claw and sweet-tart mango with a flourish of basil chiffonade. Pan-roasted vension chop rested between a lightly crisped risotto cake and a crown of spiky wild arugula, set off by a chocolate and juniper berry reduction. Our main courses were equally composed. Pan-roasted Atlantic turbot napoleon had moist fish fillets layered with "champignon-chestnut ragout" and Savoy cabbage braised in apple cider. Saffron and lemon zest risotto topped with oven-braised short rib, a refined riff on osso buco, came on a huge black plate painted round with ivory bone-marrow cream, and best of all, the rice was the perfect texture. —Anne Spiselman

Bonsoiree Cafe & Delicacies

2728 W. Armitage | 773-486-7511

$$$

CONTEMPORARY/REGIONAL, global/fusion/eclectic | DINNER: SUNDAY, TUESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED MONDAY | BYO

This smart BYOB spot started life as a casual deli and cafe, but hit its stride after introducing multicourse prix fixe dinners, and recently was awarded a Michelin star. Chef Shin Thompson's eclectically influenced contemporary American menu showcases clean, streamlined, seasonal flavors; tasting menus are now available in five, seven, and thirteen courses. On Saturdays the restaurant offers a six-course "underground dinner"; to get an invite, sign up on the mailing list at bon-soiree.com. On "No Menu Sundays," where the offerings are determined by what's best at the farmers' markets, a four-course tasting menu is $45, a seven-course menu $75. —Martha Bayne

La Boulangerie

2569 N. Milwaukee | 773-358-2569

$

BAKERY, FRENCH | MONDAY noon-7 PM, tuesday-FRIDAY 8 AM-7 PM, SATURDAY-sunday 8 AM-6 PM

Scene: Vincent Colombet stands silently behind the counter making crepes, jaw grimly set while his workers awkwardly explain to one customer after the next that they cannot a sell a single of his exquisitely flaky croissants, pain au chocolate, pain almond, or pain raisin because the coffee shop next door says no. If lack of access to the Parisian-bred baker's pastries wasn't so frustrating, it would actually make a wicked French comedy. Instead Colombet—who after all should have known what he was getting into—must bag them by the dozen (at $24.50 per) in order to comply with a noncompete agreement with New Wave Coffee. That's the sad reality, but this Logan Square retail outpost of Colombet's Elston Avenue bakery and cooking school also happens to produce transporting boules, batards, and baguettes—which certain LS denizens have been using as picket-sign posts to wave in front of New Wave. These wondrous breads are baked and delivered three times daily from the mothership. One way around the pastry embargo: customers can pool money and combine orders with others in line. Barring that, the unspoken benefit of having to buy a dozen of Colombet's croissants is that you'll have a dozen of Colombet's croissants. —Mike Sula

The Brown Sack

3581 W. Belden | 773-661-0675

$

AMERICAN, ICE CREAM | monday 11 AM-4 PM, TUESDAY-SATURDAY 11 AM-9 PM | CLOSED SUNDAY | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Malaika Marion moved her "soup, sandwich, and shake shack" to a new Logan Square location over the summer, but otherwise didn't mess with the formula. With help from her partner, Adam Lebin, she's made the place a destination for hearty down-home standards like a gooey grilled peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich and beefarific chili laced with head-clearing handfuls of cumin and chile (a vegan version is also available). The daunting Reuben—a popular choice based on a peek at the other tables—comes piled with thick folds of corned beef topped with the traditional Thousand Island dressing and melted Swiss, plus grilled onions. There's also rich mac 'n' cheese, meatball subs, Goose Island root beer floats, and daily soup, sandwich, and dessert specials (one week it was Lebin's grandmother's brownies). —Martha Bayne

Cocina Boricua

2420 W. Fullerton | 773-235-7377

$

CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: sunday, Tuesday-saturday | closed monday | BYO

This Puerto Rican joint seems to be off the radar of local foodies. Maybe that's a good thing, because the place is remarkably unspoiled. From the first bite I had there, my primary sensation was wow. We started with guachitas, smashed fried plantain disks topped with guacamole and a slice of salchichon, a piquant red sausage—an inspired combination. The canoa, a large sweet plantain filled with cheese and beef, was also killer. Mofongo is plantain smooshed together with lots of garlic and chunks of pigskin and served with a side of golden consomme that's meant to be dashed in. At Cocina Boricua I had the best version I've ever had—and I've tried it all over Puerto Rico. Another guaranteed pleaser are the pasteles, plantain tamales with a core of lightly spiced pulled chicken. Served the cabrito en fricassee, exceptionally tender chunks of steamed baby goat in a light wine sauce speckled with green olives, I knew I had found my paradigm for preparations of the horned beast. There are also jibaritos, the Chicago-invented sandwich of two flattened fried plantains filled with beef, chicken, or pork. For dessert we had an exquisitely eggy flan and the templeque, a light yet rich coconut gelatin. Cocina Boricua is BYOB, as a pink neon window sign announces. —David Hammond

Gloria's Cafe

3300 W. Fullerton | 773-342-1050

$$

SOUTH AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | BYO

Reopened under new ownership (with an actual Gloria at the helm) this little Colombian joint is putting out lovingly made home-style plates, along with more casual coffeehouse-oriented bites and drinks (sandwiches, juices, smoothies). If that looks like they're spreading their supply lines thin, they're doing a helluva job in spite of it. My admittedly limited experience with arepas (corn cakes) had me believing they were dry, lifeless pucks, but here the cheese and sweet corn (choclo) arepa appetizers both were moist and cakey—a lesson well learned. Empanadas with mild chimichurri were swell, particularly the spinach, garlic, and potato variety, as was a "Colombian Hummus" with no identifiable South American traits. Among Caesar and house salads there's an unusual rice and shrimp ensalada with sweet plantains, chile flakes, and a sweet-and-sour sauce that wouldn't be out of place on a Thai menu. Rotisserie chickens are marinated, blazed well, and available in various sums of their parts. The traditional and steak dishes come with ample starchy and fibrous sides (rice, cassava, plantains, beans). I'm particularly partial to the bandeja paisa (country platter), a manly pile of sides, chicharrones, chorizo, grilled flank steak, and a fried egg. —Mike Sula

Longman & Eagle

2657 N. Kedzie | 773-276-7110

$$$

BAR/LOUNGE, CONTEMPORARY/REGIONAL | brunch, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: SATURDAY TILL 3, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 2 | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

At Longman & Eagle the throngs are as apt to tie up the tables early Monday evening as they are late Friday night. The food's executed by Jared Wentworth, who picked up a Michelin star in the new Chicago guide. He seems as determined to ward off vegetarians and those of timid taste as he is to draw in fearless fellow chefs, who've taken advantage of the late hours to gather round the plates of onion-jelly-topped tall roasted marrow bones that fly out of the open galley. Wentworth's meat challenge goes on and on: Kobe meatballs, duck rillettes, fat slabs of salty bacon-armored paté—squab one night, rabbit another, woodcock on a third, and most recently mallard. The wild boar sloppy joe is a scarfable Tuscan ragu sandwich topped with crunchy frazzled onions and a pickled jalapeño; a sunny-side up hen egg hash with duck confit is a satisfying late-night breakfast, and might even inoculate you against the dozens of whiskeys behind the bar. —Mike Sula

Lula Cafe

2537 N. Kedzie | 773-489-9554

$$

GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC, contemporary/regional | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | CLOSED TUESDAY | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11 | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

At this point I've taken dozens of people to Lula Cafe, and I don't say this lightly: it may be the best neighborhood restaurant in Chicago. One side of the menu is dedicated to cheap, surprising, delicious entrees in the $7-$14 range, like the Moroccan tagine: warm cinnamony chickpea stew with chunks of sweet potato over couscous, with fresh greens strewn on top. There's beet bruschetta, and peanut sesame noodles, and a great roast turkey sandwich; at brunch there's eggs Florentine and mascarpone-stuffed brioche French toast. Then there's a more expensive menu ($9-$25), as if the owners just thought, "What the hell, this'll be fun too." These items change constantly but have included a scallops appetizer that makes vegetarians very sad to be vegetarians. I brought a friend who's a professional chef in New York, and he stuck around for hours to order nearly everything on the menu. And then we came back the next night. —Ira Glass

Revolution Brewing Company

2323 N. Milwaukee | 773-227-2739

$$

BAR/LOUNGE, CONTEMPORARY/REGIONAL | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | saturday & sunday brunch | OPEN LATE: EVERY NIGHT TILL 2  | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Legions of beer geeks waited longingly through the epic struggle by Handlebar principal Josh Deth to open Logan Square's Revolution Brewing, and now that the taps are flowing they're draining the house brews faster than brewer Jim Cibak can produce them. Lines of stoic bearded dudes stream in and back out again with biceps curled around growlers of hoppy IPAs, roasty stouts, and spicy Belgian-style brews, barely glancing at the beautifully designed room, with its full view of the brewery's raw industrial operations. Meanwhile chef Jason Petrie does battle in a half-concealed kitchen, struggling to feed the masses inspired yet beer-friendly food and striving to appease both carnivores and the vegetarians migrating from the more plant-eater-friendly Handlebar. So far the results are mixed. On paper a bowl of bacon-fat popcorn sounds like a perfect beer companion, but in practice it's a top-heavy mass with chunks of bacon and clods of shredded Parmesan—the antithesis of finger food. The simplest efforts—tangy, plump smoked buffalo wings, crispy ale-battered scrod—come off the best. Pizzas are offered in a few interesting variants, like duck confit or a corned beef special; beef patties are accessorized with toppings like pepper jack and pulled pork or Gorgonzola with cremini mushrooms and crispy shallots. And the kitchen has a way with spuds, offering them three equally successful ways: long crispy fries, blue cheese potato salad, and fluffy garlic-cream cheese mashed. Just give me some of those and I'll be happy. —Mike Sula

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