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New Too

Ten more recent openings

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The Bad Apple

4300 N. Lincoln | 773-360-8406

$$

BAR/LOUNGE, BURGERS | LUNCH: SATURDAY-SUNDAY; DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: EVERY NIGHT TILL 2 | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Craig Fass and Mandy Franklin (Menagerie, Cooper's) opened their beer and burger bar the Bad Apple a scant half block south of the venerable Jury's, and while that institution attracts a decidedly different crowd, its burger is formidable and has been justly recognized as such for years. Now, with the Bad Apple shipping in a custom-ground beef mix from New York wholesale butcher Pat La Frieda, it's difficult not to imagine a gauntlet has been thrown down between the generations gathering on each side of Lincoln Avenue. In various instances Cass and Franklin see fit to bedeck their pedigreed beef with lily-gilding school-of-Kuma's-type arrangements, offering options like pulled pork and onion rings, ham and eggs, ham and pineapple, etc. But the more minimal preparations (one in fact named for La Frieda) better reveal a slight overmanipulation of the burger, resulting in a tougher, drier chew than the patties probably deserve. And since they cook up a size too small for their buns, I'd say Jury's has little to worry about in the burger department. A second category of sandwiches, many featuring some appealing beer-manipulated element—ale-brined pork, peanut butter and lambic jam, Witte-roasted chicken—show the kitchen is capable of a little bit more. A Kriek-cured duck confit with melted white cheddar on thick Texas toast is a gooey if salty alternative for those occasions when one can do without a burger piled high with centuries of geological strata. Accessorizing all of these sandwiches are golden brown hand-cut fries available in seven different flavors (truffle, curry, Old Bay, etc), which certainly appear attractive but could stand a much harder fry, particularly if they're expected to survive a deluge of gravy and cheese curds. As it stands they don't have the tensile strength to support their own weight at a 90-degree angle, much less the onslaught of the sloppy Montreal poutine, one of two offerings, along with deep-fried cheese curds, with an appeal directly proportional to the level of alcohol-diminished inhibitions. There's a handful of salads for relief from the onslaught of meat and potatoes, but if my chickpea, olive, and feta salad—laced with canned olives and overdressed in treacly honey-cilantro vinaigrette—is any indication, not much effort goes into them. Where the Bad Apple clearly has the upper hand over Jury's (and most likely every other place in the neighborhood) is in its extensive and diverse beer selection. —Mike Sula

Cafe Touche

6731 N. Northwest Hwy. | 773-775-0909

$$$

FRENCH | DINNER: SUNDAY, TUESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED MONDAY | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11

A French restaurant that wants to be taken seriously is certainly sending the wrong signal by adopting a frog as its mascot, and only compounding the problem by adopting a name as corny as Cafe Touche. But this bustling Edison Park bistro, run by chef Joe Calabrese of the nearby Zia's Trattoria, otherwise hits all the right notes—it's an affordable, comfortable neighborhood spot executing simple classics perfectly well, with an equally accessible wine list. In addition to a handful of steaks, served with big tangles of thinly shaved frites, there's a buttery Alsatian onion tart, two huge slabs of house-made paté (for $6.95), a deep bowl of bouillabaisse that smells like a field of fennel, a crispy roasted half duck, and big bushes of frisee undergirding goat cheese croquettes or delicate poached eggs and lardons. About the only thing that matches the name and the logo are the American-size portions. —Mike Sula

Castel Gandolfo

800 N. Dearborn | 312-787-2211

$$

PIZZA | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL MIDNIGHT, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 11 | CASH ONLY

Despite its newcomer status in a Neopolitan-pizza-crazed town where there's strong competition even in the neighborhood, Castel Gandolfo, in the Gold Coast, isn't doing much to ingratiate itself. Though grandiosely named after the pope's summer residence, it's housed in an ugly squat stucco corner building that has been the site of several failed restaurants (most recently, Iggy's). And it's cash only, with an ATM on-site, yet outrageously expensive. Calzones start at $16-$18, and the 14- and 16-inch pies run $1 per inch, which by itself wouldn't be so bad if ingredients beyond tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella weren't $2 to $4 each. The result: a small pizza with prosciutto, roasted red peppers, and olives will set you back $24. Add to that an $8 house salad or $12 antipasto and you have the primary reason this cursed corner is likely to claim another victim. Castel Gandolfo is now offering beer and wine. —Kate Schmidt

Falafill

3202 N. Broadway | 773-525-0052

$

MIDDLE EASTERN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 2, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 11

Offering a focused menu and a dazzling array of optional condiments, Falafill is a franchise-ready marketing concept poised to spawn multiple locations. Basic idea: select decently prepared falafel in pita ($4.95) or a plastic bowl ($6.95); then challenge gravity by piling on herb-rich salads, spicy veggies, and piquant sauces drawn from a large bar in the center of the store. Add-ons like fava bean puree and hummus, available for a surcharge, are superfluous: each order gives you access to the regularly replenished and formidable condimentarium of cabbage with mint, zhug (jalapeño and cilantro), taratour (tahini with lemon), and dozens of other colorful, generally low-cal options like Armenian salad. Exercise restraint with these condiments, which are best deployed in moderation and can easily overwhelm. White and sweet potato fries can be drizzled with selections from a battery of hot, sweet, and sour sauces. Novel beverages include tongue-blistering ginger beer, but given the generally aggressive flavors of food and fixings, consider palate-calming yogurt drinks. Falafill's food is fresh and fast, though priced a little on the high side. With migraine-inducing interior lighting, a Denny's-inspired color scheme, cramped quarters, and limited seating on backless stools that discourage lingering, this Boystown newcomer seems best for grab-and-go dining. —David Hammond

Jam

937 N. Damen | 773-489-0302

BREAKFAST, BURGERS | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | CASH ONLY

$

The fussed-up Ukrainian Village brunch spot Jam, which launched stealthily in mid-July in the tight, airless Damen Avenue space where Dodo expired, is a radically different animal from owner Jerry Suqi's nearby Chickpea. This time it's not Suqi's Palestinian mama in the kitchen but Jeffrey Mauro, formerly of Trotter's and North Pond (he also teamed with Suqi on the ill-fated La Pomme Rouge). 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—a rare case of sugar failing to help the medicine go down. Buckwheat crepes stuffed with braised lamb are plated more successfully, with perfect spheres of Asian pear, but biscuits and gravy with satisfying chunks of rough-cut cotechino sausage are nearly undone by a gray shiitake gravy that looks far less appetizing than it actually is. Some plates, particularly those categorized as lunch, are downright dainty and overcomposed, like the octopus: a few tentacles, a tuft of frisee, and a radial arrangement of pink grapefruit sections alternately dabbed with yellow ginger icing and crenellated with coins of dehydrated chorizo chips. Meals start with imaginative amuses, such as intensely anise-y fennel sugar-lemon custard doughnut holes, which you can wash down with Metropolis coffee or a juice du jour. All slate and mirrors to maximize limited space, the cash-only operation is hot and poorly ventilated—which doesn't seem to deter the weekend mobs currently helping the restaurant live up to its name. —Mike Sula

Joy Yee Plus

2159 S. China Pl. | 312-842-8928

$$

ASIAN, JAPANESE, NOODLES | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | BYO

Joy Yee Plus occupies the former space of the original Joy Yee (relocated down the street), all gussied up with LCD menu boards and a koi tank you can walk upon sunk into the floor. As the newest member of this Chicago-based restaurant dynasty, JY+ is betting on success with an Asiatic trifecta of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines, sending out respectable if bowdlerized versions of Asia's greatest hits. Vietnamese pho tasted bright and clean, hinting of the complexity you'd find on Argyle Street but with none of the chthonic funk; Peking duck in buns was dry, a tad too lean; and unextraordinary sushi proves the equal of much raw fish you'd find around Chicago. There are more adventurous options: if you've never had gizzards or chicken skin, such nuggets of offal are available here as yakitori. Maki rolls rule: Bananza is a surprisingly well-balanced concoction of banana, soft-shell crab, mustard, and microgreens. To drink there are fresh fruit smoothies or you can BYO; for dessert, there's Taiwanese shaved ice with red and green beans, though these were difficult to swallow and perhaps too "authentic" even for us. —David Hammond

Kleo

3113 N. Halsted | 773-698-6717

$

MIDDLE EASTERN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL MIDNIGHT, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 11

The motto of this Lakeview Middle Eastern place is "Healthy Fast Fresh Food," but the menu's about evenly split between salads and grilled vegetable dishes and meat-centric kebabs and grill standards like burgers, a Polish, and "Heavenly Grilled Pork"; service shortfalls undercut the claim to speed. Despite the large front windows, the awkward rectangular space is dark as a black-box theater—not a pleasant place to dine. In fact, I'd recommend heading next door to the brightly painted Wings o' Flavor, where the jerk wings have made a convert out of me. —Kate Schmidt

Mod Pizza

1222 W. Madison | 312-666-1222

$$

PIZZA | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11 | BYO

"Crust lovers, rejoice," trumpets this West Loop pizzeria's Web site, while the menu trots out their motto, "It's the crust," a good half a dozen times. This kind of hyperbole is often a setup for failure, but it turns out Mod's pizza crusts are pretty damn good, crispy without being too crackery. The stuff on top of the Denny's Grand Slam—pepperoni, pancetta, and house-made sausage with plenty of fennel—measured up as well, though the onions on the Engine 103 overwhelmed the too-sparse spinach and garlic. But if the specialty pizzas don't please there's a wide range of build-your-own options, including ten cheeses and toppings like caramelized onions, prosciutto, and roasted red peppers. Tender grilled calamari were nicely flavored by the olive oil, herbs, garlic, and lemon juice they were marinated in, and were actually less fishy than the mediocre lobster ravioli on special (the effort that went into making them look like the Italian flag might have been better applied to fine-tuning the recipe). The mostly Italian menu also offers several appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pastas, desserts—and, anomalously, broasted chicken. We didn't try it, but the other diners ordering it looked like they knew what they were doing, so it's going on my list of things to try next time. Mod is BYO for now. —Julia Thiel

Morgan Harbor Grill

2948 W. Devon | 773-764-8115

$$

SEAFOOD, KOSHER/JEWISH/DELI | LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY; DINNER: SUNDAY-THURSDAY | CLOSED SATURDAY | BYO

The venerable Devon Avenue Good Morgan Kosher Fish Market's full-service meat-and-dairy-free adjunct is captained by chef Erik Williams, late of Bin 36 and Volo. His menu of sushi, simple grilled fish, and more creative dishes offers flexibility and range for those keeping kosher parve. Sushi is superfresh, and items such as tuna poke and the charcuterie plate—gravlax, whitefish spread, and smoked salmon (with marble rye)—really show off the high quality of the product; superb hand-cut french fries are a surprise bonus. While Williams's "specialties" show a daring not seen anywhere else on Devon, some are more successful than others: grilled gefilte fish with fat, gummy basil gnocchi is simply inedible, but his miso-marinated cedar-plank-grilled escolar with braised fennel is absolutely fantastic. The lights are turned down low on a minimally spiffed-up dining room that for some unfortunate reason carries a ghostly, stale whiff of eau de bubbe. BYO kosher wine and nonflavored beer for now. —Mike Sula

Zebda

4344 N. Elston | 773-545-7000

$

MOROCCAN, MEDITERRANEAN, CONTEMPORARY/REGIONAL | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

The North African-leaning "modern Mediterranean" take-out partnership between Tassili Cafe owner Mohammed Djeddour and former Mundial Cocina Mestiza chef Katie Garcia still seems to be in a state of evolution, going from very good to better and better. Changing pastry offerings such as fresh savory stuffed bastilla, each one with a distinctly different filling, are particularly lucky surprises: one is stuffed with vermicelli, green olives, and fish; another, looking something like a cinnamon bun, is laced with carrots, zucchini, sauteed onions, and a spicy mix of turmeric, saffron, and cumin. A square phyllo pocket packed with shredded chicken, carrots, and raisins—"a Moorish thing," says Garcia—emits a fragrant burst of cinnamon when its flaky exterior is breached. Sandwiches on baguette or light, flaky m'smene flatbread feature bright herbal notes, yogurt tang, and fresh vegetables and meats at the intersection of colonial and Northern African influences. Everything I've tried—from the prepared salads to the pastries, salads, and full entrees including tagines and kebabs—has been prepared with a comparable attention to detail. —Mike Sula

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