Traveling Table: Chicago

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Tasting Table
Publican Quality Meats | Yusho | Au Cheval

This year has been good to Chicago.

A spate of recent restaurant openings means there has never been a better time to eat your way through the culinary capital of the Midwest. Here, our whirlwind eating tour of the Windy City:

Publican Quality Meats: Packed with house-made sausages, charcuterie and nearly every cut known to man, the butcher case at this new Fulton Market shop is a stunner. But chef Paul Kahan’s newest is no one-trick pony: Go for a lunch of green-garlic soup and a loaded yellowtail-escabeche sandwich with roasted-tomato-lime aioli.

Yusho: What do you do after 14 years at the helm of Charlie Trotter? If you’re Matthias Merges, you turn your passion for Japanese cuisine into a small, stylish and relaxed restaurant. Here you’ll find skin tastings (salmon, chicken and pork), grilled maitake mushrooms with dashi gelée and a slew of yakitori--with smart cocktails to match. 

Au Cheval: The latest from local chef-turned-restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff of Maude’s Liquor Bar and Gilt Bar draws inspiration from American diners and French bistros. Slide into a leather-backed booth for blue-cheese-and-caramelized-onion omelets, potato hash with duck-heart gravy and chopped chicken liver with toast.

Balena: This newcomer, helmed by chef Chris Pandel of the Bristol, is home to some of the city’s most exciting Italian cooking. Its cocktail list is packed with amaro-based drinks; pair them with pasta studded with crab and sea urchin. End the night with a sundae of pistachio gelato, burnt-orange caramel and pistachio nougat.

  • Chicago: Publican Quality Meats

    Cured meats and whole hams line the perimeter of Publican Quality Meats, a butcher-shop-cum-restaurant from chef Paul Kahan. After you finish your meal, take some of the provisions to go.

  • Chicago: Publican Quality Meats

    The Publican Quality Meats butcher case is lined with proprietary sausages such as Mexican chorizo and rich blood sausage. But don't let these carnivorous delights distract you from the bread, which is made by in-house baker Ehsan Ganji.

  • Chicago: Yusho

    One of the many edible treasures at the jewel-box-size Yusho: takoyaki made with over-the-top duck confit rather than the traditional octopus.

  • Chicago: Au Cheval

    Settle into the comfortable environs of the Logan Square newcomer Au Cheval, which takes design cues from both Parisian bistros and retro diners.

  • Chicago: Au Cheval

    Don't fill up on fries with creamy Mornay sauce and a fried egg; Au Cheval's six-inch-tall mille feuille is the requisite dessert order.

  • Chicago: Balena

    The incredibly talented Chris Pandel is behind Balena, which impresses with dishes of uncompromising flavor. The bar is of equal note; featuring drinks such as the Fib, made with Amaro dell'Erborista, Ransom gin and grapefruit, it is also worth a stop. (Photo: Jeff Kuak)

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Publican Quality Meats 825 W. Fulton Market Street Chicago IL 60607 312-445-8977 Yusho 853 North Kedzie Avenue Chicago IL 60622 773-904-8558 Au Cheval 800 West Randolph Street Chicago IL 60607 312-929-4580 Balena 1633 North Halsted Street Chicago IL 60614 312-867-3888 Publican Quality Meats 825 West Fulton Market Chicago IL 60607 312-445-8977 Yusho 2853 North Kedzie Avenue Chicago Il 60618 773-904-8558 Au Cheval 800 West Randolph Street Chicago IL 60607 312-929-4580 Balena 1633 N. Halsted Street Chicago IL 60614 312-867-3888

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