Tasting Chicago’s flavors: Here’s what’s on the menu

June 1, 2022

Chicago is full of interesting cuisines, all exhibiting different tastes and coming from different cultural backgrounds. Summer is the perfect time to explore a new neighborhood or fare, savoring the city’s flavors in different ways. Here’s Midway’s guide to a full three-course meal’s worth of must-try menu items.

 

Appetizer

Patatas Bravas, spiced potatoes layered with Manchego cheese and scallions from Tapas Valencia (Kiran Collins)

Tapas Valencia: Patatas Bravas

Can’t miss: Spiced potatoes layered with Manchego cheese and scallions, the Spanish dish is simple but refined. The subtle kick of the spice cuts through the fatty flavor of the cheese, while the crisped potato skins give way to the soft, creamy center. Mild, but with just enough heat to make the back of your throat tingle. Location: 1530 S. State St.

Rajun Cajun: Vegetable Samosas

Can’t miss: The traditional South Asian savory appetizer is fluffy, crispy and delicious. Packed with potatoes, peas and spices, these are a perfect snack or accompaniment. Other menu items are filling, flavorful and authentic. Beware of intense spiciness within the dishes. Location: 1459 E. 53rd St.

Saucy Porka: Bacos

Can’t miss: Sweet, seasoned pork tucked neatly into a bao bun, this Asian-Latin fusion appetizer packs a lot of flavor into a small bun. Topped with an Asian slaw and finished with braised pork, they make the perfect appetizer. Location: 1164 E. 55th St.

 

Entrée

Birria de Res Tacos, beef-filled tacos from Tortillería y Taquerias Atotonilco (Milo Platz-Walker)

Tortillería y Taquerias Atotonilco: Birria de Res Tacos

Can’t miss: A flavorful and filling traditional Mexican dish, these crispy, beef-filled tacos make a perfect savory dish for any time of the day. The seasoned meat pairs perfectly with the spicy salsa provided with the food. Location: 1637 S. Blue Island Ave.

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen: Corned Beef Sandwich

Can’t miss: A massive pile of tender beef packed between two halves of an onion roll, the sandwich, a Jewish deli classic, is almost intimidating. Fatty yet somewhat sweet, every bite of the beef is flavor packed, while the slight acidity of the onion roll brightens up the taste. Thoroughly satisfying but not overwhelming. Location: 1141 S. Jefferson St.

Caribbean Jerk Joint: Jerk Chicken

Can’t Miss: A bed of flavorful, fragrant rice beneath 3 large pieces of juicy jerk chicken, this large platter makes a perfect entree for anyone with a large appetite. The smoky flavor of the rice and jerk sauce pairs perfectly with the perfectly cooked chicken. Location: 1400 E 47th St.

 

Dessert

Mochi donuts from Mochinut (Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu)

Mochinut: Mochi donut

Can’t miss: Choose any mochinut flavor, topping or glaze (varies daily). The main ingredient, sticky sweet rice flour, is also used in the typical Japanese dessert mochi and gives the donuts their unique texture. Each has a crisp, golden brown exterior with a soft, chewy inside that tastes buttery and sweet. Location: 1139 W. Taylor St.

Forno Rosso: Coppa Pistachio

Can’t miss: The Coppa Pistachio, an Italian dessert, is a decadent mix of custard, chocolate and pistachio gelato topped with praline pistachios. The velvety smoothness of the gelato is given some textural variety by the crystallized pistachios, while the mellow pistachio flavor balances the sweeter custard and chocolate. Location: 1048 W. Randolph St.

The Crepe Shop: Wild Berry Cheesecake Crepe

Can’t miss: The crepe is lightly topped with powdered sugar, which offers a balance of sweetness. The soft, pillowy outside is filled with blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and cheesecake cream. The restaurant offers nine crepes: five sweet and four savory. Location: 2934 N. Broadway

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