Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge opened in 2007 offering Indian-fusion small plates by chef Radhika Desai (who went on to make a something of a name for herself on Top Chef), then went through a few more transitions before finding its groove in Peruvian food. The highly touted ceviches get a traditional Peruvian preparation: the fish or shellfish, lightly "cooked" in a citrusy marinade, comes topped with kernels of Andean corn and served alongside slices of sweet potato. Other seafood-rich traditional dishes include fried rice mariscos and a spicy shrimp soup with aji panca (Peruvian red pepper). Try the coastal Peruvian dish causa and you'll find it a real sleeper—lime-infused mashed potato balls topped with smoked salmon and avocado, kind of like a bagel with lox with an ethereal potato dumpling in place of the bagel.
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Between's Wicker Park location and boudoirlike decor might lead you to expect attitude. But while I can't speak to the atmosphere late at night, I've found it mellow and friendly, with killer pisco sours, craft beers, and drink specials nightly—like the Tuesday half-price wine deal that landed us a perfectly drinkable pinot grigio for $14. —Kate Schmidt