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Alfresco!

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Halsted's Bar & Grill

3441 N. Halsted | 773-348-9696

$$

BAR/LOUNGE, AMERICAN, BURGERS | LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY; DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY TILL MIDNIGHT, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 11 | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Let's start with the onion rings, something Philip K. Dick might have invented as the perfect drug: each puffy hoop as big as a doughnut and studded with coarse salt, the Bass Ale batter and the onion itself nearly atomizing the moment you bite down. It's exactly what you might want with a night's worth of alcohol in your bloodstream, and sure enough, Halsted's Bar & Grill has begun to corner the market on Boys Town bar food. The former X/O, which was lively but almost genteel, has been transformed into something resembling Sidetrack with food, complete with overly loud music and a large see-and-be-seen patio in the back jammed with guys (and the occasional girl). If that's your scene, you'll love it. —Rob Christopher

The Handlebar

2311 W. North | 773-384-9546

$

GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC, VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 2, MONDAY-THURSDAY TILL MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY TILL 11 | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

A cyclist hangout—the bar stools are made from chrome rims, vintage bikes hang from the patio fencing, and there are specials for messengers on Mondays—this is a theme restaurant that doesn't feel precious. The food is cheap and vegetarian friendly: most entrees are under $10, and the only meat option is fish. The chefs don't do anything flashy, but they do a little bit of everything and do it well—the samosas with tamarind chutney, for example, are on par with any you'd find on Devon. The kitchen also does a bang-up job with comfort food: seitan and tofu sandwiches come with a variety of sides including a respectable vegetarian version of southern collard greens and an addictive smoked Gouda mac 'n' cheese I'll crave on my deathbed. —David Wilcox

Lutz Continental Cafe & Pastry Shop
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  • Lutz Continental Cafe & Pastry Shop

Heartland Cafe

7000 N. Glenwood | 773-465-8005

$

AMERICAN, VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY, BAR/LOUNGE | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11 | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

The Heartland serves a mean buffalo burger, plus salads, sandwiches, and enough hearty vegetarian entrees to satisfy the pickiest eater, from veggie chili to tofu scrambles, barbecue seitan, and a macrobiotic plate. Fine dining it's not (though specials like steamed artichokes show some aspiration), but it is a north-side sanctuary for hungry bohemians of all stripes, with live music (funk, folk, and jazz) and a Wednesday-night open mike. It also has a left-leaning general store and an often-bustling outdoor patio. —Martha Bayne

Jam

937 N. Damen | 773-489-0302

$$

contemporary/regional | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY, DINNER: wEDNESDAY-sATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | byo | cash only | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY (dinner only)

Jerry Suqi (Chickpea) and chef Jeffrey Mauro (Trotter's, North Pond) have teamed up on this fussed-up Ukrainian Village brunch spot. Early notices touted Mauro's sous vide malt custard French toast and eggy plates fashionably loaded with pork cheeks and belly, which gave me the impression that this was going to be the sort of brunching meant for blanketing uneasy stomachs and pounding heads. And indeed Mauro's egg sandwich, a French roll with slabs of meaty braised pork cheek covered in a lava flow of egg yolk, has a restorative quality, marred only by a cloying sweet-and-sour peach ketchup. Meals start with imaginative amuses, such as intensely anisey fennel sugar-lemon custard doughnut holes. Mauro's now tackling dinner too, with options including a $25 four-course tasting menu, or five courses for $37. —Mike Sula

Juicy Wine Company

694 N. Milwaukee | 312-492-6620

$$

bar/lounge, small plates | dinner: monday-saturday | open late; saturday till 3, friday till 2, monday-thursday till 1

You'd expect Juicy Wine Company to be all about the grape, but the instant you walk in the door it's clear the place is just as much about the cheese, offering an a la carte selection of cheeses and cured meats, and even a butter "experience" that pairs three artisanal butters with various sea salts. Charcuterie includes salumi made by Seattle-based Armandino Batali (Mario's pop). All wines served in-house—we had a seriously complicated 1994 Davis Family Russian River pinot noir—are available to go. Downstairs the wood-trimmed, minimalist space is split between a wine wall and in the front and a low-key seating area of tables and banquettes in the rear; upstairs is a cozy bar and lounge, complete with DJ booth and a rooftop patio. —Martha Bayne

Jury's

4337 N. Lincoln | 773-935-2255

$$

AMERICAN, BURGERS | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11

Every hot and happening restaurant row should have one old-school place still chugging along, resistant to all trends, and that's the function Jury's serves on this stretch of Lincoln Avenue just south of Montrose. With its white-tablecloth interior and supper club menu, the place clearly aims for more sophistication than the other taverns along this strip, though its main claim to fame is still its hamburger, which won a best-burger-in-da-city contest some years back. It's a terrific example of the classic bar burger, a half-pound slab of quality beef seared to a steaklike char and accompanied by nothing more exotic than Grey Poupon and a mound of steak fries. There's a patio in back, and a small sidewalk cafe where canine companions are welcome. —Michael Gebert

LM Le Restaurant

4539 N. Lincoln | 773-942-7585

$$$

FRENCH | DINNER: TUESDAY-SATURDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | CLOSED MONDAY

This classically oriented French contemporary spot is a boon for the Lincoln Square restaurant jungle. The cramped and awkward space that has seen many a tenant (Tallulah, She She) has been brightened considerably, bathing in a warm amber glow filigreed classics like creamy sea-salt-dusted foie gras torchon or a clod of sweetbreads, delicious despite their alarming appearance. A pair of soups (including thick, rich lobster bisque jazzed up with crispy beignets), a pair of salads, and you're free to negotiate a list of familiar entrees: whitefish, veal cheeks, seared scallops, grilled sturgeon, etc. These range from outstanding (a juicy pan-roasted poussin with chanterelles and bright green parsley-chive gnocchi) to bland (a tender grilled sirloin whose blanket of shallot jam couldn't rectify its lack of flavor). At dessert a classic tarte tatin for two was unforgivably soggy, but a magnificent peanut butter cream and chocolate tart with honey mousse was luscious and the most surprising bite I tried. The enclosed back patio remains another selling point. —Mike Sula

Longman & Eagle

2657 N. Kedzie | 773-276-7110

$$$

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

At Longman & Eagle the food is executed by Jared Wentworth, yet another proponent of snout-to-tail eating. 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 a recent special of tete de cochon, not a whole pig's head but a crispy headcheese croquette atop a bed of stinging nettles. Even the fish dishes can't escape mammalian adornments: catfish is topped with ham-hock relish, and seared tuna swims in foie jus. A sunny-side up duck egg layered on beef tongue hash is a satisfying late-night breakfast and might even inoculate you against the dozens of whiskeys behind the bar. The sprinkling of perfect crispy-fried Ipswich clams on an oversize block of toasted brioche, though, is sure to provoke frustration in anyone who's ever dropped a few bucks at an actual clam shack. Even on a single plate execution can diverge to extremes—beautiful braised rolled veal breast is a meaty paragon, but its partner, a short rib stuffed in undercooked manicotti, just looks embarrassed for itself. To be fair, like its fellow Logan Square phenomenon Revolution Brewing, Longman & Eagle is so consistently slammed that it may need even more time than usual to even things out. There's now a sidewalk cafe as well. —Mike Sula

Lutz Continental Cafe & Pastry Shop

2458 W. Montrose | 773-478-7785

$$

GERMAN/AUSTRIAN, BAKERY | 7 AM-7 PM SUNDAY-THURSDAY, 7 AM-8 PM FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Now renovated, the dining room and lovely back garden at Lutz Continental Cafe retain their old-world flavor, and the lunch offerings—classic sandwiches, quiche, goulash soups, and crepes—are worth every pfennig. Just be sure to save room for dessert. The cafe offers its full menu from 11 AM to 5 PM daily, and serves cake and coffee until half an hour before the shop closes. —Holly Greenhagen

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