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Mercat a la Planxa, Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan, 312-765-0524. Spanish tapas, wines and cocktails served in wild décor make for a fun night. Choose from 15 excellent tapas, from seafood to steak.
Mista, 2931 N. Broadway, 773-698-6688. Try the Margherita pizza with a very thin, crispy cracker crust with tomato sauce, basil and fresh tomatoes. The Mista salad is spinach and macedamia nuts with a delicous dressing. Save room for the warm bread pudding with strawberries on top.
Naha, 500 N. Clark, 312-321-6242. Seasonal Mediterranean taken to new levels of sophistication and artistry. The Wild Black Cod is recommended.
N9NE Steakhouse, 440 W. Randolph, 312-575-9900. Steak and seafood head the menu at this sister restaurant of N9ne Las Vegas. The upstairs Ghostbar has a cool, futuristic theme.
NoMi, Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan, 312-239-4030. Upscale and sophisticated, the international spot is known for its elegant presentation, distinctive cuisine and extensive wine list.
North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Dr.,773-477-5845. The ducks in the lagoon provide a glimpse into nature. The menu is simple, with a good selection of fresh fish.
O’Brien’s, 1528 N. Wells, 312-787-3131. This Old Town restaurant features well-prepared fish, steaks and burgers. The outdoor garden is bustling.
Oceanique, 505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435. From its charming French decor to the bouillabaisse, Oceanique is an intimate, tony restaurant for any occasion. It features an extensive fresh seafood menu, thoughtfully prepared, and desserts like the day and night cake with layers of chocolate mousse.
Osteria de Pizza Metro, 2863 N. Clark, 773-472-6411. Enjoy authentic Italian specialties and fabulous square pizza. Incredible Lasagna. BYOB.
Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted. 312-726-2407. Ooompah!  From the delicious Greek specialties to the tasty galaktoboureko and phyllo pastry shell with light vanilla custard, this authentic spot is not to be missed.
Pensiero Ristorante, 1566 Oak Ave, Evanston, 847-475-7779. The pasta and fresh fish specialties are excellent in this popular Italian restaurant. Open Thursday through Saturday only.
Phil Stefani’s, 437 N. Rush, 312-222-0101. Quality beef and seafood with traditional Italian pastas is the menu of the day for bigger appetites.
Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted, 312-421-0077. The influence of many areas of Italy is represented in this reasonably priced restaurant that has a stunning view of the skyline from the patio. You can’t go wrong with any of their fabulous pasta dishes.
Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio, 312-321-1000. The deep-dish pizza can’t be duplicated anywhere else except for Pizzeria Due across the street.
Province, 161 N. Jefferson, 312-669-9900. Enjoy farm-to-table dishes with Spanish and South American influence in a certified Gold LEED-EB building.
Pops for Champagne, 601 N. State, 312-266-7677. This new version of the very popular Chicago venue has a raw bar, champagne bar, jazz lounge and outdoor spaces in warmer weather.
The Publican, 837 W. Fulton, 312-733-9555. The focus is on beers and heirloom pork in this Warehouse District venue backed by some of the biggest names in Chicago food circles.
Quince at the Homestead, 1625 Hinman, Evanston, 847-570-8400. Enjoy contemporary American cuisine in a lively and comfortable setting.
Roberto’s Ristorante, 483 Spring Road, Elmhurst, 630-279-8486. This lovely, well-known restaurant attracts pasta lovers from all over Chicagoland. From live entertainment on weekends to the stuffed and thin crust pizzas, this Italian restaurant keeps the crowds coming back. Start with calamari, indulge in delicious homemade manicotti and finish with tiramisu.
RL Restaurant, 115 E. Chicago, 312-475-1100. The Ralph Lauren restaurant features American food with country-clubby, old-money décor. The lobster club sandwich is the best in the city. Oprah says this is one of her favorite restaurants. Find out why.
Rosebud, 1500 W. Taylor, 312-942-1117. Where better to dine on sumptuous Italian fare than in the old Italian neighborhood? This original restaurant was so popular, multiple Rosebuds opened up
throughout the city and suburbs.
Russian Tea Time, 77 E. Adams, 312-360-0000. When you are taking in the cultural sites at the Art Institute or symphony, this bustling old world restaurantis a must. Vegetarians can enjoy an array of unussual appetizers. There are excellent meat dishes, as well.
Rustic House, 1967 N. Halsted, 312-929-3227. The weathered barnyard and burlap wall coverings are as authentic as the excellent fresh farm-to-table ingredients of their dishes.
Sapori Trattoria, 2701 N. Halsted, 773-832-9999. The linen tablecloths and exposed brick walls evoke an atmosphere of old Italy. On Tuesday nights—tapas night—you can enjoy live jazz and sample tasty, innovative combinations. Try the lasagne or salmon.
Senza, 2875 N. Broadway, 773-770-3527. A
simple, elegant decor complements the sophisticated fare. Fixed price menus are $50 and $90.
Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, 312-441-1920. A great choice in a former print shop serves a seasonal
contemporary American menu and extensive wine list.
Shanghai Terrace, Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior, 312-573-6744. Experience upscale Chinese food in an elegant hotel. Enjoy Sunday dim sum brunch.
Signature Room, 875 N. Michigan, 312-787-9596. Go for the views at this elegant spot on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building. The fare is excellent.
Smith & Wollensky, 318 N. State, 312-670-9900. Known for its excellent dry-aged beef and giant steaks, the restaurant also offers a few lighter options.
Tavern at the Park, 130 E. Randolph, 312-552-0070. The all-day eatery in Prudential Plaza has an upscale menu of sandwiches, salads and entrees. Enjoy panoramic park views from this spot.
Texas de Brazil, 51 E. Ohio, 312-670-1006. This Brazilian steakhouse (churrascaria) offers meat-lovers a sizzling time.
That Little Mexican Cafe, 1010 Church St., Evanston 847-905-1550 and 1055 W. Bryn Mawr 773-769-1004. Both locations of this long-time favorite offer guacamole made tableside as well as excellent classic Mexican dishes such as duck enchiladas with mole sauce and fresh mango salad.
Trattoria D.O.C., 706 Main St., Evanston, 847-475-1111. This Evanston favorite is known for its
creative pizza combinations prepared in their wood-burning oven. But the other offerings, such as marinated grilled squid or linguine with lobster meat, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and white wine, are just as delicious.
Trattoria Isabella, 217 N. Jefferson, 312-207-1900. Another excellent and creative Italian spot in the Warehouse District, Trattoria Isabella has floor-to-ceiling windows and a giant patio for nice weather.
Twin Anchors, 1655 N. Sedgwick, 312-266-1616. This bustling Old Town rib joint remains the place to kick back and enjoy some baby back ribs.
Vermillion, 10 W. Hubbard, 312-527-4060. Latin-Indian? Somehow it works in an extensive tapas menu and entrees like you’ve never before tasted.
Vivere, 71 W. Monroe, 312-332-4040. With a wine cellar of over 2000 selections, Vivere pushes the limits of “new” Italian cuisine with unusual ingredients. The black truffle gnocchi is excellent. For dessert, try the chocolate and hazelnut tiramisu.
Vinci, 1732 N. Halsted, 312-266-1199. The warm, comforting atmosphere and consistently excellent Italian selections has made it a pre-theater spot for years. Vinci offers a gluten-free menu  as well as traditional Italian favorites such as roasted baby eggplant, grillled octopus, and Roman-style Gnocchi with wild mushrooms.
Yoshi's Cafe, 3257 N. Halsted, 773-248-6160. The casual atmosphere is deceptive. This is haute cuisine with an eclectic menu combining French, Japanese, Italian and American influences.

Published: February 23, 2013
Issue: Winter 2013 Issue