Parson's Chicken & Fish In Chicago

Simple, smartly made pleasures abound at Parson's Chicken & Fish

First step when scoring a coveted seat at Parson's Chicken & Fish: Get a Negroni Slushy or Michelada in your hand.

The two expertly made, supremely refreshing drinks are neck and neck for our favorite cocktail of the summer, and the season hasn't even begun.

Locally made Letherbee gin anchors the Negroni ($8), and house-made sangrita lends a savory, spiced and spicy heft to the Modelo Especial Michelada ($5).

The kitchen achieves a similar balance of crowd-pleasing and sophisticated. Spot-on pimento cheese ($6) arrives on toasted baguette slices and decorated with charred radishes and a tangle of pea shoots. Shrimp toast ($8) is as light and fresh as shrimp salad can be, with a dressing of crème fraîche, shallots and herbs. The restaurant's namesakes arrive battered and fried, with coleslaw and Texas toast.

The chicken's breading is crisp, crumbly and dark; the fish batter is tempura-like and laced with beer. If you are so inclined, split the difference with a clam roll ($10), a flavorful riot of heavily breaded bivalves, pickled chiles and celery-root rémoulade.

Avoid a lengthy wait, or an exceedingly awkward smush at one of the few indoor tables, by visiting on a weekday, right when it opens at 4 p.m.

Parson's is worth playing hooky for.