Autumn Eats: 15 Foods to Look Forward to This Fall

What is it about fall food that excites us so much? Perhaps it’s that we know the cold weather is coming, so we don’t feel quite as guilty hunkering down. The spat of small plates in Chicago makes this coming autumn even more exciting: No one should scarf down a whole appetizer of, say, garlic bread drenched in fondue or a whole plate of mozzarella sticks, but a few bites won’t hurt, right? The smaller dishes also allow us to try foods or cuisines that wouldn’t normally be on our radar: From Peruvian ceviche to French tartines, we’ve recently been introduced to foods we never knew we needed to be obsessed with. Here are fifteen bites that you should definitely be on the lookout for this fall.

Francesca’s Forno 1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., at W. North & N. Damen Ave.; 773-770-0184; $7  Watermelon salads usually aren’t worth getting excited about, but one look at this offering should change your mind. 
Michael Jordan’s Steak House 505 N Michigan Ave.; 312-321-8823; $7 What does Michael Jordan know about garlic bread that we don’t? How about that anything will taste good after being drenched in a fondue of Wisconsin Ader Kase Reserve Blue Cheese. Also, it helps that sauce is poured over the crusty bread by attentive waiters. Skip the bread basket, and start your feast with this. 
Tru 676 N St Clair St, at E. Huron St.; 312-202-0001 When executive chef Anthony Martin decided to remove Tru’s legendary caviar “staircase” from the menu, one didn’t expect him to replace it with something even more opulent. But now a coral serving piece is used to hold abalone shells of hand-selected roes. The stunning arrangement is still expensive, but seems worth it for the wow factor alone. 
Bleeding Heart Bakery Cafe 1916 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-904-1414; $9Here’s something the owners of Bleeding Heart Bakery have in common with Paula Deen: Both understand the power of using a freshly fried doughnut as a bun. You may want to sleep for four hours after eating one of these, but they are available for your morning commute. 
Morso 340 W Armitage Ave.; 773-880-9280; $13  We’ll be honest and admit that our first visit to Morso was a little disorienting. Chef Matt Maroni is best known around town as the pioneering force behind the Gaztro-Wagon, which offers up delicious naan-wiches wrapped up in aluminum foil. But we were centered again when we dug into this elegant plate of scallops with corn. We can get used to this side of Maroni. Photo: Eugene (Huge) Galdones/Huge Galdones/Galdones Photography 2011
Roots Handmade Pizza 1924 W. Chicago Ave., at N. Winchester Ave.; 773-645-4949; $9 Most mozzarella sticks aren’t worth the greasy cardboard they are served in, but these are no ordinary fried cheese sticks. These gloriously oozy ones are made with freshly pulled cheese that have been battered and fried to order. Never has your inner twelve-year-old been so happy.
Telegraph2601 N Milwaukee Ave., at Logan Blvd; 773-292-9463; $8   Before its opening, we never knew what a tartine void we’ve been dealing with. These French open-faced sandwiches are the ideal partner for Telegraph’s wine list. The toppings change often, but we’re rather stuck on the pickled Berkshire pork loin with whipped feta, plums, and juniper vinaigrette.
Masa Azul 2901 W. Diversey Ave., at N. Francisco Ave.; 773-687-0300; $8 Good tamales are a dime a dozen (well, more like $2 for a dozen) but few are as great as this one. It’s no surprise that lard helps keep the masa light and fluffy. But the real secret, at least according executive chef Alvaro Chavez, is a spoonful of the fat from duck confit. 
Lao Hunan 2230 S. Wentworth Ave.; 312-842-7888; $5.45 We were as surprised as anyone to find out that Tony Hu had quietly expanded his restaurant empire with this authentic Hunanese spot. What was even better news was to find a menu stuffed with things like Jade tofu, which the staff assures can not be found anywhere else in the city. 
Between Peruvian Cafe 1324 N Milwaukee Ave.; 773-292-0585; $10 Between Boutique Cafe switched things up a month ago, losing the “Boutique” and adding “Peruvian Cafe” to reflect the menu direction from chef Chef Jose Victorio. If you’re looking for a dish that sums up the transformation, this ceviche, which is named after Victorio’s hometown in Peru, is about the best place to start. 
La Chaparrita Grocery 2500 S. Whipple St.; 773-254-0975; $1.50 Don’t get us wrong, the tripe tacos at this stunning taqueria in Little Village are worth the hype that LTHForum has been showering on it all summer. Certainly, they are better than most of the carne asada tacos you’ve eaten recently. But if you’re looking for a gateway taco that is slightly more presentable than cow stomach then we suggest you start with the rich and vibrantly flavored longaniza sausage.  
25 Degrees 736 N. Clark St., at W. Superior St.; 312-943-9700; $10.50 We’ll listen to what Los Angeles has to say about burgers — don’t tell us you don’t have a little In-N-Out envy —  but hot dogs? This Southern California chain is mostly about the ground beef, but it’s also helping to popularize this bacon-wrapped and fresh salsa topped hot dog, which we have to admit is much more manageable than Big Star’s own version.  Photo: Eugene (Huge) Galdones/Huge Galdones/Galdones Photography 2011
Pinkberry 635 N. State St., at W. Ontario St.; 312-475-0641 This intriguing flavor from the newly opened California fro-yo shop is exactly what you think it is. What’s surprising is that it actually works. If you’ve been leery about checking this place out, here’s a good reason to try it out. 
Native Food Cafe 1484 N. Milwaukee Ave., at N. Honore St.; 773-489-8480; $5.95 The vegans have been quick to embrace this restaurant’s quick expansion into the city. Luckily, there are options beyond the fake soy meat: Tofu is braised here with lemongrass, wrapped up with pickled daikon, and then served with a warm peanut sauce. 
Pleasant House Bakery964 W. 31st St., btwn S. Keeley and S. Farrrell St.; 773-523-7437; $3.25 This Bridgeport spot has helped popularize meat pies, peas, and other British foods that no one knew could taste so good. So, it makes sense that it’d also kick out an addictive Scotch Egg. 
Autumn Eats: 15 Foods to Look Forward to This Fall