Alfresco: The Reader's Guide to Outdoor Dining in Chicago 2009 | Restaurant Review | Chicago Reader

Alfresco: The Reader's Guide to Outdoor Dining in Chicago 2009 

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click to enlarge Piccolo Sogno

Piccolo Sogno

Eric Futran

It’s been one of the wettest springs on record, but with Memorial Day come and gone, Chicagoans are champing at the bit to eat (and drink) out of doors. For our annual Alfresco guide, we’ve combed our listings to find great spots for alfresco dining, from rooftop patios to secluded garden nooks to lantern-strung terraces.

Our selections are culled from the more than 4,200 restaurants, bars, and lounges in the Reader Restaurant Finder, our searchable online database. Restaurants are reviewed by staff, contributors, and (where noted) individual Reader Restaurant Raters. Though reviewers try to reflect the Raters’ input, reviews should be considered one person’s opinion; the Raters’ collective opinions are best expressed in the numbers.

A Mano335 N. Dearborn | 312-629-3500

$$$Italian | Lunch: Monday-Friday; Dinner: seven days

A basement little brother to Bin 36, A Mano retooled earlier this year after a burst pipe shut it down for more than a month. An assortment of six salumi for $28 ($15 for three) is a sweet deal that affords the chance to sample offerings such as mole sausage and culatello, the soft, buttery nucleus of a ham cured prosciutto style. The wood-burning pizza oven here is executed with facility to produce a slightly puffy crust. The reworked, more streamlined menu retains favorites like garganelli with braised boar and raisins and seasonal ravioli such as di ribollita, stuffed with white beans, black kale, and Tuscan bread. A similar combination turns up in "Mud and Grass"—currently Tuscan kale and fava beans, one of five rustic sides. Under no circumstances skip the house-made gelati, which include both common flavors such as strawberry and chocolate hazelnut and curveballs like gingersnap and mascarpone. Consume while sitting on the front terrazzo and you'll think you're in Italy. —Mike Sula

A Tavola2148 W. Chicago | 773-276-7567

F 8.7 | S 9.3 | A 8.4 | $$$ (9 reports)Italian | Dinner: Monday-Saturday | Closed Sunday

rrr The dining room at A Tavola is dimly lit and intimate, with only ten tables; the garden seating, while also limited, is brightened by little Chinese lanterns and planters with herbs and vegetables used in the kitchen. The menu, too, is tiny, enough so that strict vegetarians may have a difficult time making the most of it. I went with the halibut, lightly dusted with seasoned flour and panfried, accompanied by a lemon and caper sauce—very simple, but perfectly moist and light. An appetizer of grilled portobello and sauteed oyster mushrooms stood out for its surprisingly complex flavor. There are also three small pasta dishes, including the best gnocchi I've ever had, swimming in sage butter and topped with fried sage leaves (grown in the garden). I'm one who believes there are few more wonderful things you can do with food than bake it with a crisp crust of Parmesan cheese, so the polenta, thick and gooey, may have been my favorite. There was one bite left at the end of the night, and I seriously thought about having it wrapped up. —David Wilcox

Anteprima5316 N. Clark | 773-506-9990

F 8.5 | S 8.0 | A 7.6 | $$$ (10 reports)Italian | Dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

rrr Owner Marty Fosse ran the front of the house at Spiaggia at one time, and while Anteprima is a far cry from that rarefied temple of la cucina italiana, his neighborhood place has many virtues. A dozen or so antipasti lead the menu, which changes frequently, a few of them very inexpensive and a few rather special, including soft veal meatballs in a sweet saffron-tomato sauce. My table's orders of orecchiette with lamb sausage and dandelion greens arrived merely warm and a little gummy. But navigating restaurant pasta options is always treacherous, and because an order of spaghetti with fava beans was damn near perfect, I'm willing to bet the kitchen is capable of getting it right—perhaps just not when the house is slammed at eight o'clock on a Friday night. Main dishes include a salty brick-grilled Cornish hen with rapini, double-cut lamb chops, and wood-grilled whole fish specials. There's a long, all-Italian wine list with plenty of quartino options and a decent selection of grappa and other digestives. Good luck scoring a table out on the lovely back patio. Reservations through opentable.com. —Mike Sula

Athena212 S. Halsted | 312-655-0000

$$Greek, Mediterranean | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Every night till midnight

At Athena you'll find old-world fare like loukaniko (homemade sausage), dolmades, lamb with artichokes in lemon sauce, and galaktobouriko, a faintly lemon-flavored custard that floats beneath several flaky layers of honey-soaked phyllo dough. The bright interior is spacious and colorful, but the big draw is the lovely two-level outdoor garden, open spring to fall. Still, that's not what keeps at least one customer coming. A 45-year-old who's been dining here weekly since 1996, when the Tsoukalas family opened Athena, says, "They make you feel comfortable, and that's not true of all these Greek restaurants." —Ryan Hubbard

Bad Dog Tavern4535 N. Lincoln | 773-334-4040

F 8.7 | S 8.0 | A 8.3 | $$$ (6 reports)Bar/Lounge, American Contemporary/Regional | Lunch, Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2

rrr The global-fusion-meets-contemporary-American menu at this sleek room is several cuts above bar food. An order of tempura-style green beans comes with a lime-ginger-soy dipping sauce; another successful fusion is the goat cheese wonton appetizer. There are pizzas with classic toppings, and sandwiches and salads with interesting twists, plus hearty entrees like an herb-marinated pork tenderloin served with garlic mashed potatoes. The several choices on tap include Delirium Tremens, and there's an outdoor patio that's almost the size of the bar. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Boka1729 N. Halsted | 312-337-6070

F 8.9 | S 8.2 | A 8.6 | $$$ (17 reports)American Contemporary/Regional, Small Plates | Dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

rrr Giuseppe Tentori, a nine-year veteran of Charlie Trotter's, was named one of Food & Wine's best new chefs of 2008, and his menu pops with startling, enjoyable items. Scallop-stuffed squid with baby spinach, spicy pineapple, and black tapioca was one of the weirdest-looking plates I've set eyes on in a while and texturally freaky too—squishes and pops in every bite—but really tasty and fun to eat. A hyperglobal salad of Peruvian tabouli, English cucumbers, haricots verts, Greek feta, and radishes was also an interesting combination of flavors. But it was sumptuous veal cheeks, topped with a dollop of excellent house-made mustard and served with broccoli hash and cauliflower-Yukon Gold potato puree, that won the day. Service was deft, knowledgeable, and unruffled despite the packed house on a Friday, and there's elegant seating in the backyard garden. —Mike Sula

Bourgeois Pig738 W. Fullerton | 773-883-5282

$American, Coffee Shop | Breakfast, lunch, dinner: seven days | Reservations not accepted

Fifteen years old now, this charming Lincoln Park establishment might easily be mistaken for having been around even longer. Located in an old brownstone, it's true to 60s-coffeehouse form, with creaky hardwood floors, hundreds of newspapers and books lining the shelves, and a menu of homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods posted on four huge blackboards. The extensive lineup ranges from a Great Gatsby Club (pesto, bacon, and smoked turkey) to a veggie panini with artichoke hearts and fresh spinach to a scrumptious daily quiche with a flaky, buttery crust. The quiet and somewhat unkempt surroundings—an antidote to the antiseptic ambience of newer shops—attract a studious crowd. An expansion this summer will increase the size of the pleasant patio. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Cafe Fresco1202 W. Grand | 312-733-6378

$$Italian | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday till 2; Saturday, Monday-Thursday till 1; Sunday till midnight | Reservations accepted for large groups only

It looks like a cozy corner bar, with its high tables and subdued nautical theme, but Cafe Fresco lives up to its name, offering a mostly Italian menu better than you'll find at many neighborhood spots. We started with a signature dish, grilled calamari served with spinach, roasted red peppers, olives, and a few sticks of feta—unusual, maybe, but delicious. In addition to bar fare like chicken wings and burgers, there's a lineup of midprice entrees (tilapia, pork chops, chicken piccata and Vesuvio), but we were drawn to the pastas. Gemelli Baronesa was spiked with slices of prosciutto, mushrooms, and peas, all in a rich (but not too rich) garlic-Romano sauce. Pasta puttanesca with plenty of garlic wasn't the wimpy version too often found. There's a decent beer selection and a small but potable wine list (half-price with an order of food on Tuesdays); cocktails, shaken up at our table, were even better. On a Thursday night the atmosphere was mellow, service friendly and accommodating, and in warm weather the enclosed back garden patio—lined with ivy-covered walls, one painted with a trompe l'oeil of the cafe—beckons. —Kate Schmidt

Cafe Orchid1746 W. Addison | 773-327-3808

$$ Mediterranean | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday-Sunday till 11 | BYO

When Kurt Serpin says he's cooking Ottoman cuisine, he doesn't mean the extravagant feasts of the sultans, but he is talking about the traditional Turkish cuisine that evolved from the sultans' expansive palace kitchens. The menu at Cafe Orchid, his compact Lakeview restaurant, is diverse, covering the expected mezes, kebabs, and grilled seafood dishes, but also a nice selection of less common items, like the tiny wontonlike pre-Ottoman meat dumplings known as manti, which arrive in a deep bowl of yogurt-tomato sauce. Serpin says it takes him and his wife, Iho, eight hours to stuff enough of them for 25 orders. He's also doing alabalik, rainbow trout cooked with mozzarella cheese; balik sarma, or grilled grapeleaf-wrapped sardines; and mercimek koftesi, spicy, cold lentil fingers. No processed gyros cone spins in this place: Serpin, who's cooked at A La Turka and the late Cafe Istanbul, stacks the meat on the Autodoner himself and shaves it for doner kebab or iskender, a luscious, comforting dish of shaved lamb, veal, and house-baked bread, all smothered in butter, yogurt, and tomato sauce. The interior dining room is dark and cavelike; seating on the enclosed front patio or umbrellaed sidewalk tables is a far more congenial place to enjoy your meal. —Mike Sula

Chaise Lounge1840 W. North | 773-342-1840

$$$Bar/Lounge, American Contemporary/Regional | Lunch: Saturday-sunday; Dinner: seven days | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2

Under chef Cary Taylor—a veteran of Blackbird, Ambria, and Avenues—the changing menu at Chaise Lounge now leans more toward American shores for inspiration than the Continent: out with the frisee, in with the Waldorf salad. Maybe I've just become a jaded restaurant snob, but for the most part the fare lacked that ineffable quality that sets off the pleasure centers in your lizard brain, especially at this price point. I was so thrown by a thick layer of solid fat covering the slice of slow-cooked pork in an appetizer that I almost sent it back—until I discovered that it tasted delicious combined with the actual meat hiding below. Beef short ribs could have used a little more of that lardy goodness; although tasty, they weren't falling off the bone in the way the dish requires to be successful, to my mind. But we found ourselves dueling with forks over a dessert usually notable for its table-pleasing blandness, banana bread pudding with caramelized walnuts and sour cherries. And even nitpicky critics can't argue with a huge outdoor patio and rooftop lounge that's open year-round. —Heather Kenny

The Chicago Firehouse1401 S. Michigan | 312-786-1401

$$$American | Lunch, dinner: seven days

This sprawling three-story restaurant in a 1905 firehouse retains some of the building's original character with fire poles, tin ceiling, and firebrick walls. Huge semicircular, brass-studded red leather booths line the perimeter of the bar's dining area, while the carpeted main dining room has the feel of a suburban country club. Dishes tend to be hearty—starters include seared sirloin, French onion soup, and a special of prosciutto rolled with cream cheese and asparagus. Main courses take their cue from home cooking—pot roast, panfried rainbow trout, barbecued pork chops. The leafy outdoor patio seats 70. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Chief O'Neill's3471 N. Elston | 773-583-3066

$Bar/Lounge, English/Irish/Scottish | Breakfast, Lunch: Saturday; Dinner: seven days | Sunday brunch | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2

This northwest-side pub named after Francis O'Neill, Chicago's first Irish police chief (and a champion of Irish music) carries on his efforts, hosting live music every Sunday and Tuesday. The entire bar—chairs, tables, bar fittings—and most of the staff was imported from Ireland, and the kitchen dishes up traditional fare—Galway Bay mussels, cheddar cheese soup with Guinness, fish-and-chips, bangers and mash—in addition to steaks and fish, a popular Sunday brunch, and breakfast on Saturday. The huge, festive outdoor beer garden seats 200. —Laura Levy Shatkin

La Cocina de Frida5403 N. Clark | 773-271-1907

$$Mexican | Breakfast friday-sunday; lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11 | Reservations accepted for large groups only

At La Cocina de Frida, an unabashed shrine to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, it might prove just a little challenging to enjoy dinner beneath multiple visages of one of the scariest-prettiest artists of the 20th century. The food, however, won't challenge. Complimentary salsa, served warm, is tasty though unlikely to satisfy heat-seeking chile heads. The restaurant boasts that it uses olive oil, not lard, in the refried beans, which is an odd if heart-healthy choice that doesn't appreciably enhance the flavor of the frijoles. If you're not a fiend for authenticity, you might enjoy the enchiladas stuffed with carnitas or vegetables, slathered in a reasonably complex mole negro, or the pork chops in fruity mole manchamanteles. Prices are reasonable, with many entrees around $14 and bottles of wine for $16. The large back patio seats 100. —David Hammond

Cooper's—A Neighborhood Eatery1232 W. Belmont | 773-929-2667

$$ American, Global/Fusion/Eclectic, Bar/Lounge | Dinner: seven days | Open late: every night till 2

Cooper's changed ownership about a year ago, but the menu of fresh, seasonal fare remains unchanged. There's still a roasted beet salad with goat cheese and a duck confit mac 'n' cheese, plus panini-style sandwiches and exotic pizzas. The vegetable panini was stuffed to the gills with arugula, mushrooms, red pepper, and goat cheese, but the proportions were perfect, and the thin, crispy fries were some of the best I've ever had. For many the real draw of Cooper's will be the selection of about 90 beers from around the world. The large off-street patio has the feel of a back porch—just one that seats 50. —Heather Kenny

Corosh1072 N. Milwaukee | 773-235-0600

$$Italian, European | Lunch, dinner: Monday-Saturday | Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 1

On a weekend night the garden courtyard at Corosh—last year's Reader Best of Chicago pick for best outdoor seating—was a great place to be: large, nicely decorated, and hidden away from the Milwaukee Avenue noise. We quickly settled on the garlic cream sauce mussels and prosciutto with melon as starters and the seafood risotto and lobster ravioli as entrees; secondi include several grilled meats and a couple of Vesuvio preparations. The quality of the ingredients was very good overall (hammy prosciutto, flavorful pesto), though the bread was average. The late-night menu offers more standard bar fare, and there's a brunch buffet on Sundays. —Torbjörn Törnqvist, Rater

Crust2056 W. Division | 773-235-5511

F 7.7 | S 7.4 | A 7.7 | $$ (7 reports)Pizza | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till midnight

Chef Michael Altenberg's casual flatbread-pizza joint, the city's first certified organic restaurant, is a sleek modern dining hall with a spacious tented back patio and sidewalk cafe. The pizzas—er, flatbreads—have an airy, chewy, well-proofed crust and are topped with everything from savory silver dollars of pepperoni to a sunny-side-up egg to a take on an Alsatian Flammkuchen (caramelized onion, bacon, and caraway seeds with a bechamel sauce). All, even meat, tastes shockingly fresh; the baby greens in my Sun Salad (a tasty mix of greens and seaweed in a creamy sesame-ginger dressing) had to have had their lives cut violently short that same day. The bar offers a short but respectable wine and beer list that is mostly organic, plus a selection of cocktails with infused organic vodka. —Martha Bayne

Deleece Grill Pub

3313 N. Clark | 773-348-3313

$$Bar/Lounge, American | Lunch: Thursday-Friday; Dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Closed Monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 1; Tuesday-Thursday till midnight

Barely six months passed between the splashy debut of Shochu, an Asian-inspired small-plates spot showcasing the eponymous liquor, and its hasty redo as Deleece Grill Pub, the sibling of John Handler and Lynne Wallack's Deleece. But on my slow weeknight visit, the hybrid lounge-restaurant had a whiff of mortality about it as well. The affordable upscale comfort-food menu is of the sort that's rapidly becoming a cliche, though welcome features include three variations on mac 'n' cheese, separate cheese and whiskey lists, and a decent selection of beers (but only two on tap). Most entrees come with two sides. Of the five steaks, the ten-ounce Tokyo sirloin, ordered rare, arrived extra rare and lukewarm, but the slivered shiitakes and scallions in a minimalist teriyaki sauce complemented the slightly chewy beef. For appetizers, tender and crispy fried calamari with miso aioli recalled Shochu's sophistication, and warm house-made pota­to chips were a fun free starter. There's a kids' menu, and outdoor seating behind the restaurant, blessedly sheltered from street noise. —Anne Spiselman

Duchamp2118 N. Damen | 773-235-6434

$$American Contemporary/Regional | Dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday | Sunday brunch | Closed Monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

"Aesthetic delectation is the danger to be avoided," declared Marcel Duchamp. So he'd have to scoff at Michael Taus, whose Bucktown spot Duchamp is aesthetically delectable in a couple ways. Unlike the chef's pricier Zealous, most main courses here run between $15 and $20, and for that kind of money they're a lot more satisfying than might be expected. We approached a crispy fried skate wing "fish-and-chips" with tartar sauce with some unease, but the dense pieces of fish held up well to the oil under the bread-crumb batter. The awkwardly named "Return to Thailand Bouillabaisse" (enough with the quote marks already) was simply a luxuriant coconut curry with mussels, shrimp, and a gorgeous piece of sea bass. The least successful of the large plates we tried was a hunk of braised pork shoulder, luscious and tender but so big it rejected the penetration of the puttanesca that sauced it. There are a few questionable decorative choices—clear Plexiglas dining room chairs and bar stools that resemble torture devices might've made the ol' Dadaist happy—but the broad communal tables don't seem to foster a rushed, chaotic environment a la Avec or Urban Belly, and the two-level outdoor seating, complete with a bar, is expansive. —Mike Sula

Dunlays on the Square3137 W. Logan | 773-227-2400

$$Bar/Lounge, American | Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday; Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Saturday till 3, Monday-Friday till 2, Sunday till 1

The brunch overflow from Lula Cafe often makes its way to this second location of Dunlays. In addition to eggs, omelets, and pancakes there's the cholesterol-enhancing Big Mike's Irish Breakfast, a fried egg, rasher of bacon, sausage, broiled tomato, potatoes, and a pint of Guinness. At other meals the largish menu offers standard bar fare—burgers, sandwiches, salads—but there are also more upscale options, like a grilled artichoke with remoulade sauce and house-smoked salmon with toasts and a tarragon-chive sauce. There's also pizza, including one with eggplant, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, and fresh goat cheese, and ribs. The sidewalk cafe is extremely dog friendly; there's even a smoked pig's ear on the menu—"for Spot." —Kate Schmidt

Enoteca Roma2146 W. Division | 773-342-1011

F 8.7 | S 7.3 | A 7.3 | $$ (6 reports)Italian, Small Plates | Lunch: Saturday-sunday; Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till midnight, other nights till 11

rrr This laid-back wine bar is an extension of Letizia's Natural Bakery, a fixture since 1998, and shares its charming back garden seating. It offers Letizia's standard menu plus more than a dozen varieties of bruschetta, pizzas, dinner salads, and a number of meat, cheese, bread, and olive combinations in the tradition of rustic Roman cuisine. Larger plates include pork shoulder in red wine served over polenta, eggplant parmigiana, and lasagna with venison bolognese, but the salumi plates are enough for a light meal or ample snack for two. Currently selected bottles of wine are $20 with dinner on Mondays, and there's a three-course prix fixe "New New Deal" meal on Tuesdays for $22. —Susannah J. Felts

Feed2803 W. Chicago | 773-489-4600

F 8.1 | S 8.7 | A 8.7 | $ (6 reports)Southern/Soul Food | Breakfast: Monday-Friday; Lunch, dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Reservations not accepted | Cash only | BYO

rrr Feed is the project of Donna Knezek, one of the original owners of Leo's Lunchroom and a founder of Bite. It's a shack with a chalkboard menu that begins 1/4 chicken, 1/2 chicken, whole chicken. Needless to say, get the chicken: salty and succulent, it has the golden crackle of skin that makes rotisserie bird so viscerally satisfying. Knezek has been cooking in Chicago for more than two decades, but at Feed she originally pared down her menu to the point of parody: chicken, burger, Caesar salad, a daily special, and a dozen sides. They include fried okra, a homey, comforting corn pudding, and rich and cheesy baked mac 'n' cheese. Now she's relented some, adding a pulled pork and a barbecued chicken sandwich to the offerings; brunch items might include pulled pork hash and green tomato eggs Benedict. For dessert there's pie and fluffy, creamy banana pudding served in a Styrofoam cup, with Nilla Wafers throughout. Feed is BYOB but the sweet tea's superb, and there's a corner store with a decent beer selection a few blocks to the east. The serene, funkily decorated brick patio is reopening in early June; it's open on weekday nights and all day on the weekends. —Nicholas Day

Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana2901 N. Ashland | 773-244-3026

$$$Italian | Dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Fiorentino's is truly a family-run restaurant: Signora Fiorentino rushed to greet us when we walked in, stopped by frequently, and saw us to the door as we were leaving, always ready to talk about food. Sicilian, she's dreamed up a menu that tends toward seafood and dishes that show a restrained hand when it comes to sauce and spices. Calamari were fresh though a bit bland, but by Jove the mussels were probably the best I've had in Chicago: done point perfect and bursting with flavor. Stuffed gnocchi, not traditional but in every way marvelous, were soft and lush, delicately filled with ricotta and splashed with tomato cream sauce. Spiedini alla griglia, a signature dish, is char-grilled filet mignon simply and flavorfully topped off with lemon, garlic, and olive oil and served with roasted potatoes and spinach. Amusingly, the cannoli, Palermo's carnival treat, is here reinterpreted as a mound of slivered cocoa and ricotta studded with pastry triangles. The pleasant side patio is planted with flowers, fresh herbs, and ivy. —David Hammond

Flatwater321 N. Clark | 312-644-0283

$$$American Contemporary/Regional, Global/Fusion/Eclectic, Bar/Lounge | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2

The flower-bedecked riverfront terrace is the main selling points of this trendy spot, with its view of suspiciously teal river water, a few shiny high-rise wedges, and of course the occasional tour boat. The lunch menu offers fancied-up starters, salads, sandwiches, and burgers including seared scallops with sweet potato puree and bacon "candy," a BLT with house-cured bacon, and an Angus cheeseburger with pickled tomatillos. The dinner menu's broadened with a range of meat-based entrees. The kitchen closes at 11 PM. —Susannah J. Felts

Fonda del Mar3749 W. Fullerton | 773-489-3748

F 7.7 | S 7.3 | A 7.0 | $$$ (6 reports)Mexican, Seafood | Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

To kick things off at this restaurant from veterans of Topolobampo and Mia Francesca, fish tacos are tasty, and the shrimp ceviche is a knockout. Soups are spiced with a light hand: caldo siete mares ("seven seas soup") is a chile-kissed tomato broth with just a few select slices of seafood; chileatole del mar brims with seafood, peppers, and corn in a tomatillo-based broth seasoned with epazote. Whole tilapia gets the mojo de ajo treatment; lamb chops in a mole negro were expertly grilled. Of special note on my last visit was a roasted pork loin served in a fruity mole manchamanteles. Out back is a patio charmingly decorated with a flower-filled half a boat. —David Hammond

Fontana Grill & Wine Bar1329 W. Wilson | 773-561-0400

$$$Italian, Polish/Russian/Eastern European | dinner: seven days | open late: every night till 11

You have to pity Nino Divanovic, whose plans to open Fontana Grill, an Italian wine bar with an intriguing concept—offering select pours by the ounce, at $1.50-$2 a pony shot—were delayed by the city's byzantine liquor licensing process. For months the only grape drunk here was BYO, forcing the focus onto a conservative combination of Italian and Balkan appetizers, pizza, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. The twain meet in an appetizer of cevapi and grilled polenta, minced-beef-and-lamb sausages riding a raft of cornmeal and drizzled with a "cucumber alfredo" sauce that tasted a lot like tzatziki. Thin-crust pizzas are nicely charred, a bit sturdier than other Neopolitan-style efforts around town, and in some cases taken down a peg by less than stellar toppings. The rustic house-made papardelle have a good flavor and texture but outmuscle a delicate butter and truffle oil sauce—instead try them with the Bolognese. The garden patio is a glorious place to sample the goods. —Mike Sula

Fulton's on the River315 N. LaSalle | 312-822-0100

$$$$Seafood, Steaks/Lobster | Lunch: Monday-saturday; Dinner: seven days | Open late:Saturday till 11

The lower-level dining room at this Levy Restaurants endeavor is spacious and elegantly understated, with handsome decor and an adult-contemporary soundtrack. We were planning on sticking to seafood until we saw the platter of U.S. prime steaks, one of Fulton's specialties. Another is oysters; our server left the menu so I could read descriptions of each briny little victim as I slurped away. We moaned and murmured with pleasure over our main courses—a New York strip and a whole Maine lobster—but prudently stopped halfway to save room for dessert: key lime icebox pie with a graham cracker crust. Seating on the 120-seat patio overlooking the river is first come, first served. —Kathie Bergquist

Heartland Cafe7000 N. Glenwood | 773-465-8005

F 6.7 | S 6.0 | A 7.1 | $ (14 reports)American, Vegetarian/Healthy | Breakfast, lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11 | Reservations accepted for large groups only | Vegetarian friendly

"Unfortunately there are not many places to get a really good buffalo burger," quips one Rater. The Heartland, however, serves up a mean one, 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 poetry open mike. While service can be erratic, most who frequent the Heartland know what they're getting into. It also has a left-leaning general store and a comfortably shabby outdoor patio. —Martha Bayne

Juicy Wine Company694 N. Milwaukee | 312-492-6620

$$European, Small Plates, Bar/Lounge | lunch monday-friday; Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 2, Monday-Thursday till 1 | Sunday till midnight | Reservations accepted for large groups only

From the name 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. A "retail plus" wine bar from Rodney Alex (formerly of Wicker Park's Taste), Juicy offers five "cheese experiences," a selection of 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, and there's a $5 wine by the glass chosen nightly. Downstairs the wood-trimmed, minimalist space is split between a wine wall and deli case 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. The staff is casual and helpful, and in all it's a pretty pleasant scene. Sunday brunch features half-price champagne. —Martha Bayne

M. Henry5707 N. Clark | 773-561-1600

F 8.1 | S 7.4 | A 6.9 | $ (18 reports)American, Breakfast | Breakfast, Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday | Sunday brunch | Closed Monday | Reservations not accepted | BYO

This charming cafe from partners Michael Moorman and Jorge Aviles offers an eclectic selection of breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes featuring natural ingredients and house-baked breads. There's a turkey sandwich with walnut pesto and cranberry sauce, a miso-glazed veggie burger, a Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich, a veggie Dagwood, and five others, along with nourishing "peasant bowls" with beans, noodles, organic rice, and veggies. Breakfast and brunch entrees are more interesting: a dish called Vegan Epiphany is organic tofu scrambled with red and green peppers, onions, and yuba (a baconlike soy product), while Dulce Banana Rumba is thick-cut brioche French toast with warm bananas, rum, golden raisins, and pecans. Pancakes come with either pomegranate or maple syrup or layered with blackberry compote and vanilla mascarpone and topped with a brown-sugar-and-oat crust. Prices are reasonable, and the staff is friendly and eager to accommodate. An attached patisserie offers breads, focaccia and other savories, and an array of sweet treats for takeout, and there's a fancifully decorated new patio out back. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Market1113 W. Randolph | 312-929-4787

$$$Bar/Lounge, American, Pizza | lunch, Dinner: seven days | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2

This sprawling new sports bar's ownership includes White Sox GM Kenny Williams, and the corny menu shows it: appetizers are the "Starting Line Up," "MVPs" "most valuable pizzas." Market says its aim is to provide traditional American food with a twist, and the result is combinations like seasoned wings tossed in buffalo sauce with blue cheese potato skins (the dish is called Idaho vs. Buffalo) and an appetizer of dumplings stuffed with chicken and pepper jack cheese, then rolled in barbecue sauce and chives—I guess it could be good. The "MVPs" include a chicken Vesuvio pizza complete with peas, and the South-Side Slugger is a half-pound cheddar burger topped with smoked ham, "angry onions," and a fried egg. There's a short list of entrees in the $20-$30 range, but most people will be heading here for the extensive outdoor seating, which includes a beer garden, a rooftop patio (open from 3 PM to midnight), and a sidewalk cafe. —Kate Schmidt

Moody's Pub5910 N. Broadway | 773-275-2696

$Bar/Lounge, American, Burgers | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Saturday till 2, other nights till 1 | Reservations not accepted | Cash only

A good place to grab a burger and beer for lunch, dinner, or a late-night snack, even on Sundays. The menu is small, its centerpiece a burger that's been called the best in town (it's also been called the most overrated). Also available are fries, steak and chicken breast sandwiches, and fried cod, shrimp, and chicken. The beer selection is limited, but the margaritas and sangria are outstanding. In summer the large, greenery-filled garden is the place to sit. Good value for hungry (but not too fastidious) people on a budget—plus there's free parking next door. —Ellen Joy, Rater

Nightwood2119 S. Halsted | 773-526-3385

$$$American Contemporary/Regional | Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday | Closed Sunday, Monday | Open late: Tuesday-Saturday till 11 | Reservations accepted for large groups only

This long-awaited Pilsen restaurant from a team including Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds of Lula Cafe opened May 26. The sleek interior features an open kitchen equipped with a wood-burning oven and a giant rotisserie. Among the recent offerings on executive chef Jason Vincent's seasonal menu, which will change daily, are green garlic soup; lamb meatballs with hand-cut dill noodles; deep-fried Mississippi prawns with bacon, sardine, and aioli; and a burger of beef and pork from Slagel Farms, on a bun that looks sturdy enough to bear it, served with hand-cut fries. Out back is a large, stark patio warmed up by natural woods, rustic stools, Bertoia chairs, and flower arrangements. —Kate Schmidt

Las Palmas1835 W. North | 773-289-4991

F 8.4 | S 8.2 | A 8.0 | $$$ (9 reports)Mexican | Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till midnight

This branch of the local Las Palmas chain is more sophisticated than the others in the city. Appetizers include empanadas, a couple ceviches, and guacamole prepared tableside. The traditional steak taco entree was smoky and good, topped with queso añejo and chipotle jam; chicken enchiladas were equally tasty. A jumbo margarita easily carried me through my meal—that and the strolling guitarist on the charming back patio. —Kathie Bergquist

Pegasus130 S. Halsted | 312-226-3377

$$Greek, Mediterranean | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till midnight, other nights till at least 11

"Look for the wings," a friend said as I prepared to drive down to Pegasus. Sure enough, the appendages of the winged horse glow in yellow neon. On a Saturday night at nine my group of 13 was able to walk right in and be seated. Service was speedy—even a little pushy, in fact, but I suppose such a large party does need to have the whip cracked. Everyone enjoyed the dishes, from a fava dip, cheese phyllo squares, and salads to a gyros platter, Athenian chicken, and arni yuvetsaki (lamb baked in a clay pot with orzolike Rosa Marina pasta and a red wine sauce). We sampled widely from the large menu, which features a good selection of both hot and cold mezedes suitable for small-plate dining. The rooftop patio offers a first-class view of the downtown skyline. —Susannah J. Felts

Piccolo Sogno464 N. Halsted | 312-421-0077

$$$Italian | Lunch: Monday-Friday; Dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Ex Coco Pazzo chef Tony Priolo and vino pro Ciro Longobardo's Piccolo Sogno, or "little dream" as the name translates, looks great on paper and in person with a range of touchstone though not tired pan-Italian dishes; a thoughtful, affordable regional wine list that spans the Boot; one of the most idyllic outdoor dining areas in the city—and on most evenings, a parking lot packed with Beemers and Lexuses. Good for them, but I'd caution any paying customer to keep dreaming if they expect to be transported to some mythical Italian Eden where the flavors in the margherita pop just as brightly as those in the risotto. Working through flat-flavored but ample meaty dishes like thick slabs of Roman-style porchetta or wine-braised beef short ribs takes effort, and aquatic creatures are treated little more delicately: a Sicilian-style piece of tuna with vegetables, raisins, and almonds was dangerously overdone, as were the poor pieces of monkfish fish in a cioppino (aka "sapore di mare"). Someone knows what they're doing with pastas, though, particularly the house-made green-and-white fettuccine with veal ragu, boiled not a minute too long and sauced with restraint—though a half portion ought to do ya. Service was well-informed, apologetic, and practically heroic in reaction to a kitchen that was clearly in the weeds. At least the garden's free of those. —Mike Sula

Prosecco710 N. Wells | 312-951-9500

$$$$Italian | Lunch: Monday-Friday; Dinner: Monday-Saturday | Closed Sunday | Open late: Thursday-Saturday till 11

Special-event prices demand a special occasion. So for my birthday I went to Prosecco, a posh Italian boite in River North where the entrees topped out at $38 for a veal chop special. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, the restaurant did little to make us feel, well, special. The complimentary toot of namesake bubbly was nice, and our server was unflaggingly sweet and helpful. But Prosecco is the sort of top-heavy place where phalanxes of handsome managers in dark suits do a lot of glad-handing while the lone guy bringing out the food is practically running. That top-heavy philosophy applies equally to the kitchen, which seems to operate under the rule of thumb "when in doubt, add butter—and truffles." Orechiette tartufate was a devastatingly rich plate of pasta tossed with wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and a whole lot of black truffle cream and white truffle oil. At first bite (or three) delicious, it was so surprisingly lacking in depth—and so damn rich—that it quickly lost its charm. Seared diver scallops, caramelized to a crisp, came on a puddle of vanilla-scented prosecco reduction powerfully reminiscent of vanilla yogurt. They were, again, so rich—and so salty—I barely made it through half. We had better luck with a Cornish game hen, whose stuffing of porcini, sausage, chestnuts, and black truffles delivered enough smoky, nutty flavor to give the dish structure. We shared the pasta and an appetizer, a trio of white tuna, ahi tuna, and salmon crudo—only the citrusy salmon really sang. And though we steered clear of the veal chop, the filet mignon, and the gold-leaf-dusted risotto, the bill still came to more than $200. But the patio is delightfully decorated with lanterns, lots of wrought iron and greenery, and a Persian carpet. —Martha Bayne

Resi's Bierstube2034 W. Irving Park | 773-472-1749

$$German/Austrian, Bar/Lounge | Dinner: seven days | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2 | Reservations accepted for large groups only

Regulars like this German beer parlor for the filling traditional fare—classics like schnitzel, sausages with sauerkraut, goulash, and potato pancakes. But the real draw is the beer. In the 70s manager Richard Stober's father, Herbert, was the first bar owner in town to serve weiss beer, and while the selection has expanded and contracted since then, there are currently 15 beers on tap and more than 100 bottled. In warm weather the tree-lined outdoor patio is lantern lit, with picnic tables for seating, and the atmosphere is generally mellow and cheerful. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Rose Angelis1314 W. Wrightwood | 773-296-0081

$$Italian | Lunch: Tuesday-Friday; Dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday | Closed Monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11 | Reservations accepted for large groups only

The four adjoining rooms of this Lincoln Park storefront feel intimate even when they're crowded, and the reasonably priced entrees are so large that doggie bags are the norm. The bruschetta is a rustic version with chunks of tomato; pizzas have a nice thin crust, and most entrees are classic pasta dishes like linguine with seafood in tomato sauce and a massive eggplant parmigiana in a sweet red sauce. More ambitious are the delicate duck-filled tortelloni (served with spinach, tomato, and melted mozzarella in a cognac reduction) and a portobello ripiene. The two outdoor patios are flower filled and sheltered from the street. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Sheffield's3258 N. Sheffield | 773-281-4989

$$Bar/Lounge, American, Barbecue/Ribs | Lunch, dinner: seven days | Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2 | Reservations not accepted

Ric Hess, owner of this Wrigleyville tavern, spent months perfecting three house-made sauces (Memphis, Texas, and North Carolina style) for the barbecue turned out by his wood-burning Southern Pride smokers. For reasons I will never understand, there aren't many places where you can get a decent pulled pork sandwich in Chicago, but the one here is pretty respectable, served with properly tangy coleslaw and a tasty and properly vinegary mustard-based sauce. Sides including red-skin potato salad, corn bread, and collards with bacon showed the care being taken in the kitchen. There are tons of craft brews on tap and by the bottle, and the staff is chipper and superfriendly. Outside there's seating (and smoking) in a leafy walled courtyard. —Kate Schmidt

Sixteen401 N. Wabash | 312-588-8030

$$$$$American Contemporary/Regional | Breakfast, lunch, dinner: seven days | Sunday brunch

Stepping off the elevators on the Trump Tower's 16th floor, I was braced for any hint of the Donald's trademark vulgarity. But though the prohibitive prices and cheesy tunes piped through the sound system raised my hackles, the food at Sixteen is bewitching. It certainly confirms the reputation of chef Frank Brunacci, who launched his globe-trotting career in Melbourne, Australia, and went on to London's Les Saveurs and Ritz-Carlton restaurants in Atlanta and New Orleans. Here he offers at least one signature dish from his past, a vanilla-scented crab salad in a cylinder of rock melon (that's Aussie for "cantaloupe," Yank). The briny crab, the sweet melon, and the acidic pineapple dressing it makes for a novel harmony of clear flavors—unrestrained, sure, but not obnoxious. That goes for many of Brunacci's presentations, from a lamb loin perched atop "forbidden" black rice and lightened with grapefruit and lemongrass accents to duck "Percik," a take on Malaysian roast duck splashed with a currylike cumin-and-carrot jus. Desserts by pastry chef Hichem Lahreche (who has a similarly impressive CV, beginning with a run at D.C.'s Citronelle), are constructed like birds of paradise, particularly the monnaie du pape, a wafer protruding from a scoop of luscious milk sorbet with Drambuie gastrique. And then there's the spectacular view, smack in the middle of one of the greatest architectural air spaces on the planet. Terrace seating begins on June 12. —Mike Sula

Tallulah4539 N. Lincoln | 773-942-7585

$$$American Contemporary/Regional | Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday | Sunday brunch | Closed Monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Troy Graves, formerly of Meritage, throws his lot in with the tenants of Lincoln Square's burgeoning restaurant row in the spot where She She withered away. It's a dark, loud, cramped space with a long sidewall mirror and a wide view of the Old Town School that does little to relieve the claustrophobia. But this should be ameliorated now that it's warmer—the back patio is pleasant and airy. And Graves's seasonal East-West-influenced menu has also lightened up. I liked some of the bold-for-this-neighborhood inclusions like pork belly, plopped atop gingery-sweet but not unaggressive kimchi, and the spicy lobster deviled eggs were really good, their richness offset by crunchy roe. On my last visit I was overwhelmed by fathomless dishes like braised short ribs with Brie-mashed potatoes, but current offerings include grilled wahoo with purple sticky rice, mango, sugar snap peas, and cucumber in a lemongrass-orange broth or a pan-roasted skate wing with fava beans, strawberries, and pancetta in a balsamic gastrique—I'll certainly give Tallulah another look. —Mike Sula

Tocco1266 N. Milwaukee | 773-687-8895

$$$Italian, Pizza | Dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday | Closed Monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 2; Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday till 11

"Remember: good shoes, good wine, and good food make your life better. Ciao from Bruno." That's the sign-off on the voice mail for Tocco, Bruno Abate's high-fashion Wicker Park pizzeria/trattoria/runway, an adjunct to his couture-themed Follia. And the space does look mahvelous in a menacing, modish sort of way. But no one should doubt that serious pizzas emerge from the two wood-burning ovens hidden in plain sight behind the bar, particularly the three varieties of schiacciata, minimally topped flatbreads whose saucelessness allows the thin crust to develop in all its full blistered chewiness; I particularly liked the one with funky, full-flavored speck and melted Taleggio. However, someone in the kitchen seems to be scared to death of overcooking starches, as evidenced by a granular polenta with a watery sausage ragu and tough paccheri (like supersize rigatoni) with spent chunks of pork. Gelati said to be made by a mysterious "old man from Melrose Park" were variable—a simple vanilla was excellent, but chocolate was icy and over-the-hill, and hazelnut and pistachio were somewhere in the middle. Service is well drilled, featuring obsessive changing of the plates, and the design-forward patio in a park setting seats 80. —Mike Sula

Trattoria Isabella217 N. Jefferson | 312-207-1900

$$ Italian | Lunch: monday-friday; dinner: seven days | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

This West Loop Italian restaurant mirrors its increasingly condo-ridden neighborhood—shiny, handsome, and seemingly soulless. As Tom Jones wailed over the sound system, white-shirted waiters and bussers hovered; friendly but bumptious, over the course of the meal they gave us spotted water glasses with a flourish, salad forks with an entree, and piled on our courses until the spacious booth table was completely overtaken by large white plates and bowls. Large rather than, say, delicious certainly seems to be the byword in the kitchen. Our choices from the menu of standard-issue offerings—a Caesar salad, bland grilled octopus overwhelmed by balsamic, spaghetti carbonara—were, well, standard issue. Risotto alla Siciliana with sausage and peppers was better, though here again to eat it in one sitting would likely spell death, and the inevitable leftovers tasted like nothing so much as cold pizza. The meal wrapped up with more Tom Jones, and unless you're a fan, I suggest the only reason to come here is the handsome side patio and bar—god forbid he's piped out there. —Kate Schmidt

Twisted Spoke501 N. Ogden | 312-666-1500

$Bar/Lounge, American, Burgers | Lunch: Monday-Friday; Dinner: seven days | Saturday & Sunday brunch | Open late: Saturday till 3, Sunday-Friday till 2 | Reservations not accepted

"Eat, Drink, Ride" is the motto at this casual joint at the corner of Grand and Ogden, but most people are just eating and drinking. The place is decorated to look like a biker hangout, with several hogs half-buried nose down in the dirt outside, an industrial metal interior, and a rust-covered facade. The menu offers bar munchies, burgers, and a dozen or so huge sandwiches—barbecued chicken and pulled pork, a grilled portobello—all of which are served with equally huge handfuls of crispy fries; there are also wings, gumbo, and chicken tacos with pico de gallo. Saturday nights after midnight the Spoke offers "Smut 'n' Eggs"—breakfast and old stag movies. Up the stairs is a rooftop patio that's surprisingly airy for a biker bar, no matter how ersatz. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Via Ventuno2100 S. Wabash | 312-328-1198

$$$American | Dinner: sunday, tuesday-saturday | closed monday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

I hope Jerry Kleiner's gamble on this storied old building—a former Capone warehouse with a mysterious secret passage—eventually pays off, but I can't imagine Via Ventuno, his Italian overhaul of American comfort zone Room 21, is going to be the catalyst this echoing stretch of Wabash needs to become a destination. Kleiner has no partners in this venture, and his presence announces itself even more loudly than it does at his many other red-draped interests. The main decorative feature is a vast collection of his personal gewgaws and gimcracks aimed at drawing a prospective Kleiner cult. I expected the surplus of Jerry-bilia to be an annoying distraction, but in the end this museum of cookbooks, golf trophies, antique soda bottles, and pictures of Jer wit' Da Mare may have been the most interesting part of the experience. Starters and first courses showed the most promise, especially a chunky chicken liver bruschetta approaching a well-executed Bolognese sauce. A wild boar and cranberry sausage, if dry, was remarkable in its rusticity, and Tallegio arancini, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, were a remarkable departure from the reheated depth charges one encounters normally. House-made pastas also showed admirable craft and textural variability even when overdressed—there was too much pancetta with the butter-sage-sauced capellacci, and the otherwise commendable chittarra was served with a salty, chunky, ridiculously incorrect Bolognese. (Maybe they should sub in the chicken-liver topping instead.) Entrees are large and difficult to put away—a pheasant special with dry, oversauced chunks of bird on a minimal spread of polenta, slabs of branzino draped over droopy rapini, an overbreaded veal cutlet with half-cooked cherry tomatoes. But Kleiner is nothing if not open armed: there's a kids' menu, and the dessert list features nine flavors of sorbetti and gelati. Outside is a large patio that seats 120. —Mike Sula

Volo Restaurant Wine Bar 2008 W. Roscoe | 773-348-4600

F 7.5 | S 7.8 | A 7.1 | $$ (9 reports) Bar/Lounge, Small Plates, American Contemporary/Regional | Dinner: Monday-Saturday | Closed Sunday | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 2, other nights till midnight

Talented executive chef Stephen Dunne executes a constantly changing menu of small plates; mainstays include sweet, plump mussels steamed in white wine and butter and spicy-sweet steak tartare made with Kobe beef and topped with shards of sesame flatbread. There's an artisanal cheese plate offered every night—it changes frequently but might include French favorites like Epoisses, Valencay, and Sainte-Maure or domestic selections like Humboldt Fog and Point Reyes blue. Wine from an impressive global list comes by the glass, carafe, flight, or bottle, and the large outdoor dining area is pretty as a picture. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Zed 451739 N. Clark | 312-266-6691

$$$$$Steaks/Lobster, Latin American, Global/Fusion/Eclectic | Dinner: seven days | Sunday brunch | Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

The Orlando investment firm that snapped up Sal & Carvao a few years ago must have known there were enough knickered "gauchos" scampering around River North's Brazilian-themed feeding factories to occupy a flattened rain forest. But it also knew that the all-you-can-eat-meat-on-a-blade concept still has juice, especially if marketed to Sex and the City wannabes who don't care as much about eating as about being seen in the right place eating. I was no fan of Sal & Carvao, but I don't remember feeling as bla­tantly manipulated there as at its replace­ment, Zed 451. The game began the instant we approached the host stand and were directed into a holding pattern in the bar, where we were free to order weak pours at stiff prices before finally being per­mit­ted to feed at one of several long-available tables. In the dining room, the Brazil-on-Disney shtick and the simple, reasonably palatable flame-roasted meats have been replaced with white-coated "chefs" who table-shave a variety of proteins gussied up with global-fusiony marinades and accents, such as bricks of Parmesan-crusted pork loin, citrus salmon, and mango mahi­mahi. The "Harvest-Table" is laden with salads and vegetable dishes in enough sugary dressings to accom­modate heroin withdrawal, and if the "artisan cheeses" were any less industrial than supermarket deli-case varieties, I'll go bag groceries at Jewel. This is the human counterpart to confined animal feeding operations, the meat (and shit) factories that supply the sort of product served here. The rooftop lounge packs 'em in anyway. —Mike Sula

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