How To Eat Like You're on Vacation Without Leaving Chicago

Sometimes planning a vacation is more of a hassle than it’s worth. Luckily for all of us with a chronic case of wanderlust, global cuisine is little more than a walk or train stop away. Thanks to Chicagoland’s increasingly diverse dining scene, here are restaurants (see article below) that will give you a mini summer getaway—no passport needed.

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How to Eat Like You're on Vacation Without Leaving Chicago

By Kailley Lindman | August 5, 2015 | Food & Drink

Here's some great places to try.

Argentina: Rural Society

Rural Society.

One moment inside chef Jose Garces’ modern Argentine steakhouse and you’re met with the smells and sight of meat grilling on a fully displayed wood-fired grill. Rural Society is a carnivore’s fantasy brought to life. Travel your way across Argentina by way of braised Wagyu beef belly and smoked chile empanadas, blood sausage with pine nuts and raisins, double-cut lamb chops, and more. Don’t stop until the meat sweats become too much to bear. 455 N. Park Dr., 312-840-6605

Italy: Piccolo Sogno

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Home to one of the most sought-after patios in Chicago, this casually elegant Italian spot is just the place to live out an alfresco Tuscan reverie without leaving the city limits. Try the panzanella and the comforting Ravioli Piccolo Sogno, which are stuffed with four types of cheese and tossed with pine nuts, butter, a Marsala glaze, and parmesan curls. Wash it all down with a glass (or three) of wine from the impressively thorough wine list. 464 N. Halsted St., 312-421-0077

Brazil: La Sirena Clandestina

La Sirena Clandestina's elotes.

Chef/owner John Manion’s bustling West Loop haven is as approachable as it is inspiring, pulling influence from a variety of Latin American cultures—perhaps most notably, Brazil. Cozy up on a cool summer night with the soul-warming moqueca—a hearty fish, mussel, and shrimp stew blended with coconut broth, cashews, and cilantro risotto—chill out with a passion fruit Caipirinha, and whatever you do, don’t go without the baked empanadas and kicked-up elotes. 954 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-5300

Peru: Tanta

Tanta's Peruvian-inspired cuisine.

From a pisco-soaked beverage program to a lineup of anticuchos (traditional skewered street food), this River North favorite has all the makings of an authentic Peruvian dining experience. Everything on chef Gaston Acurio’s vibrant menu is designed to share, so round up a few of your favorite world travelers and feast on ahi tuna tiraditos, causitas with crab, red tobiko, avocado, tomato, egg, and huancaina, a comforting bowl of pork fried rice with a shrimp tortilla and spicy garlic, yucca croquettes, and more. 118 W. Grand Ave., 312-222-9700

France: Le Bouchon

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Charming and quaint, this neighborhood-y French bistro offers authentic French fare and a no-frills atmosphere, just like you’d find on a quiet street corner in Paris. Make a point of stopping in on a Monday for the weekly wine-by-the-bottle special, and soak up your selection with hearty staples like escargots a la Bourguignonne, steak frites with sauce au poivre, bouillabaisse, and light, fluffy profiteroles. 1958 N. Damen Ave., 773-862-6600

Japan: Momotaro

Momotaro's tartare.

Since opening in late 2014, Boka Restaurant Group’s foray into the world of Japanese dining and culture has proven to be on point. The lively—if a bit boisterous—space is sleek and streamlined, nodding to a minimalist Japanese influence, while the chef-driven menu seamlessly blends traditional flavors and techniques with modern forms. Don’t miss the impeccably-presented Momotaro tartare, a meatless take on tuna tartare fashioned out of Japanese sweet tomato, Maui onion, and shiso that’s unique to the restaurant. 820 W. Lake St., 312-733-4818

Cuba: 90 Miles Cuban Café

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The Logan Square outpost of this local gem offers a more vacation-like experience than the original location in Roscoe Village, thanks to its BYOB all-seasons patio outfitted with twinkling cafe lights that look like they've been plucked straight from the streets of Havana. Empanadas, ropa vieja, and fried sweet plantains invite you to linger a while, while a pitcher of house-made mojito mix split among friends demands it. 2540 W. Armitage Ave., 773-227-2822

Jamaica: Mr. Brown’s Lounge

Mr. Brown's Lounge's array of cocktails.

Between its jerk-spiced offerings, tropical cocktails, and weekends-only live musical acts, this new eatery in the Loop checks all the necessary boxes for an island getaway experience right in the heart of Chicago. For the full effect, snag a seat on the intimate patio lined with lush vegetation and devour as much marinated bone-in, dry rubbed, and charcoal-grilled jerk chicken, curried goat, and "island style" mac and cheese you can. Then head indoors for a smooth—yet shockingly potent—Dirty Banana cocktail packed with rum, Kahlua, fresh banana, milk, coconut cream, and banana chip and entertainment. 81 E. Wacker Pl., 312-334-6760

Categories: Food & Drink
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