User's Guide

Chicago’s Best Flights, From Bacon to Beer to Ice Cream

A ten-beer tasting might be a little bit of overkill.
A ten-beer tasting might be a little bit of overkill. Photo: courtesy jronaldlee

We’re calling it right now: Flights are officially a thing. Originating in the world of wine — mouthful-sized pours laid out in order to do serious comparative tasting — the whole “multiple varieties of the same thing” schtick has long since bled well beyond oenological borders. Sure, there were the obvious next steps — compare/contrast-friendly items like cheese and beer — but the setup lends itself so well to, well, everything that it’s evolved in many cases from true flight into more of a sampler situation. If you know where to look, you can find everything from bacon to cupcakes to tequila plated in mini-portions for easy comparative judgment. Read on for some of our favorite options.View image

Bakin’ and Eggs lists a flight of five bacons — jalapeno, honey, mesquite, maple-pepper, and cherry-smoked — as an entree option. $6; breakfast and brunch.

Goose Island Clybourn will give you an array of four short pours of their in-house brew, a perfect exercise in compare/contrast. $8; daily.

Bloody Mary
Hearty kicks off Sunday morning with tasting portions of three bloody drinks: the classic Mary, the bloody bull (spiked with beef bouillon), and the surprisingly delicious Clamato-based bloody Caesar. $11; daily.

Pops for Champagne doesn’t advertise flights on their menu, but servers are happy to customize lineups of 3-ounce tastings from their selection of bubbly by the glass. The petite pours range from $8-$18 apiece; available daily.

As part of their recent revamp, Bin 36 chef John Caputo has decked out his menu with eight different cheese flights culled from the restaurant’s vast selection of dairy. The whimsical selections have names like “No Need to Sing the Blues” and “A Cow, a Sheep, a Goat and a Buffalo Walk into a Bar,” but the restaurant will also customize a flight to your taste. $11-$16; daily.

Take your pick of flights at More Cupcakes, where three-mini-cupcake iterations presented in a silvery box hew to flavorful themes: take your pick of chocolate (chocolate-chocolate, the Hostess-esque “More,” and chocolate-vanilla) or sweet (red velvet, salted caramel, and black-and-white). On weekends, there are cocktail-themed and savory flights, with weekly rotating flavors. $9.50-$11.50; daily and weekends.

Pick your choice of three, four, or five bite-sized sweets at Wave, where the dessert flight ranges from tropical fruit tarts to crepes with medjool dates to gooey lemon-raspberry cupcakes. $8 for 3, $10 for 4; $12 for 5; daily.

Mercadito offers a sample of three guacs, drawn from their selection of six varieties. Try a plantain-studded mole poblano, a spicy, cinnamony calabaza-avocado version, or the classic green stuff. $12.50; daily.

Ice Cream
Pick up to eight sample-sized portions of Hot Chocolate’s infamous ice creams and sorbets, in ever-changing flavors. $2 per flavor; daily.

Orange put itself on the map thanks to its pancake flights, four silver-dollar stacks decked out thematically. The flight changes weekly, ranging from epicurean (fruits and vanilla; wine; tea) to goofy (movie night, complete with soda-flavored syrup and popcorn; Halloween, with monster-themed stacks; Michael Jackson). $10.95; daily.

At Hoosier Mama, pick three slices from a rotating, pre-selected set of five sweet options. $7; Fridays.

The “Yehuda flight” at BenjYehuda is really a mideast sandwich sampler: a mini falafel pita, a mini chicken shawarma, and a mini steak shawarma, all topped with Jerusalem salad. $7.29; daily.

The five-course “Flight of the Pigs” at Longman & Eagle is a full experience, running from a country pâté amuse-bouche through choucroute garnie, roast loin, ham crépinette, braised belly, and tête de cochon. $45; Sundays through Thursdays before 11 p.m.

If you do it right, tacos come cheap enough wherever you get them that you can easily put together your own flight, but Province does a weekly tasting paired with Three Floyds beer. Housemade tortillas hold mojo pork, barbecued lamb, rabbit confit, and charred chimichurri veggies. $12; Thursdays.

Angels & Mariachis lines up 1-ounce pours of your choice of tequila - one blanco or silver, one reposado, and one anejo — and throws in a back of sangrita to help ensure it all goes down smoothly. $15-$32; daily. On Saturdays, a three-shot flight is just $10, excluding premium brands.

Try tuna sashimi five ways at Ai Sushi: akami (lean tuna), super white (escolar), chu-toro (medium-fatty), and the prized o-toro (premium fatty), plus a tuna-avocado salad. $22; daily.

Get pick from three pre-set selections of three one-ounce shots at Russian Tea Time: the Jewel of Russia Flight, the House-Flavored Flight (including coriander, black currant, and lime), and the spicy Molotov Cocktail Flight, which includes a horseradish-flavored vodka. $13; daily.

Pitchfork (the restaurant, not the music site) offers a flight of your choice of three whiskeys from a periodically-rotated selection of ten. The 1.5-ounce pours include familiar names (Knob Creek) as well are more obscure varieties (Buffalo Trace, Fighting Cock, Four Roses). $10; daily.

Of course there are wine flights at The Tasting Room (with a name like that, there have to be), but here each grouping of three pours is named for a favorite movie: “Point Break” is a selection of Pinot Noirs, “Donnie Darko” is robust blends from Argentina and Portugal, “Road House” shows off Napa’s best. $14-$30; daily.

Chicago’s Best Flights, From Bacon to Beer to Ice Cream