Secret Suppers: 19 Great Off-Menu Dishes to Ask for at Chicago Restaurants

Perennial Virant's heart special.

Frank Sinatra was that guy. James Bond is that guy: The guy who can walk into a place and get the thing that nobody else gets… unless you’re the guy who knows. Truth is, lots of restaurants have the ability to whip up something special that’s not on the menu and not going to be on the menu. But if they’d do it for just anybody, it’d be on the menu, right? Some off-menu items are for customers they already know and value. (Sinatra’s was pasta with no garlic, because even Sinatra couldn’t get action with bad breath.) Some are for the kind of customer who comes in late, when the staff is already thinking about what they’re going to have when they get off, and manages to bond with them as fellow nightowls. And some are just for… that guy, because you know him when you see him. We poked around and talked to some guys and came up with this list of 19 off-menu items which you can have… if you know about them and know how to ask. They tend to be manly dishes, a bit old-school, because that’s what that guy is— he exists above trends and fashion. So enter the world of that guy and see what he eats in Chicago in our slideshow below, and then check out our surveys at the other Grub Street cities as well. Because that guy gets around, too.

And when you’re doing looking at the best of what we have to offer, check out the off-menu selections in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philly, and San Francisco, too.