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A Critic Calls This Middle Eastern Hotspot ‘Extraordinary’

Plus Next’s Italia menu is one of its most approachable iterations

Sandy Noto

Galit is an “extraordinary” Middle Eastern experience and the level of food coming from Zachary Engel is “almost peerless.” Michael Nagrant pushes back on those who think the Lincoln Park restaurant is too expensive, citing rising costs and the quality of Galit’s dishes as reasons why the price is actually just right. $16 hummus is accompanied by the “tenderest brisket, whose savory juices dribble into a puree of chickpeas so silky, you could shave with it,” and pillowy pita that are “made to order in a wood-burning oven.” Split open a crackling falafel ball and “coriander and cumin perfume bathe your soul” like the “poshest of ancient spa treatments, that you can also eat.”

Chicken thighs sit on a cloud-like bed of whipped feta and sport “crunchy carbonized skin that slips from the flesh and eats like a poultry chicharron,” while Balkan stuffed cabbage is a “lasagna killer, a bomb of comfort, a blast of flavor.” For dessert, the krembo – a chocolate-wrapped marshmallow with a cookie bottom – is “basically a gourmet Mallomars.” At $65, Nagrant thinks this tasting menu “represents one of the most comprehensive pre-fixe meal values in Chicago” and he’d even be willing to pay more for it too. [Michael Nagramt]

Next’s Italia menu “abounds in charm, flavor, and calories” according to Phil Vettel. Executive chef Edgar Tinoco and the team are “cooking up a storm, producing one delicious dish after another while remaining deeply respectful of Italian tradition and products.” The cacio e pepe is the “best version [Vettel] can recall,” and ziti Bolognese is similarly excellent. The branzino is also “dream-worthy,” accented with dabs of Calabrian-chile puree and blood-orange puree along with a “complex” sauce of stock, roasted bones, and fermented satsuma orange. “Sensational” veal cheek agrodolce stars a cube of braised veal check, atop bread-pudding custard, alongside raisins, kale, a four-bean puree, and a delicate onion chip. Sommelier João Alves de sá complements the meal with “fascinating” all-Italian wine pairings, which serve as a testimony to the Alinea Group’s sourcing abilities. [Tribune]

El Sabor Poblano is highlighting the dishes and flavors of San Juan Pilcaya, Mexico. Mike Sula visits the mom-and-pop restaurant in Rogers Park for some home cooking from the Moso family. The mole poblano is a “rich, olive-colored life force” that’s “memorably nutty and creamy” and best eaten with the “heavenly” fresh tortillas. Quesadillas “perform like airy, delicately crisp empanadas, inviting you to gorge on them like you have nothing else to do all day,” while sopes feature fried masa topped with salsa, queso fresco, and proteins. Weekend specials are also full of hits, such as “sweetly fragrant” barbacoa perfumed with avocado leaves. [Reader]

The Publican has “segued smoothly and confidently into midday dining,” writes Joanne Trestrail. The lunch menu has carryovers from the dinner offerings as well as new items like a “super-tasty” burger decked with raclette cheese and cornichon aioli on multigrain bread. The popular pork rinds are a “must-share starter,” while the snap pea salad is a “winner,” mixing peas with kumquat, smoked fish, pickled shallot, avocado, and hazelnuts. For dessert, the sour-cherry cheesecake is “so spectacularly flaky and buttery, you’ll be embarrassed to think what you used to consider pretty good.”

Graham Meyer goes on a Nashville hot chicken crawl. The product at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is “like a much better, spicier version of grocery-store heat-lamp chicken, better because of jazzy breading and well-seasoned meat beneath.” At the Roost, the “true artistry lies in the quilting of textures and temperatures: crunchy breading, juicy hot chicken, flaky warm biscuit, firm pickles and cool coleslaw.” Sandwiches are also a specialty of the Budlong, where there are various spice levels; the hottest one “makes your nose run but won’t deter you from eating it.” Finally, Leghorn is “not worth a special trip” because its sandwiches are a “double-sauced, soggy-boggy mess.” [Crain’s]

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

847 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 733-1971

The Budlong

1008 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 270-9005


2429 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 360-8755 Visit Website


953 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 Visit Website

The Publican

837 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9555 Visit Website

Leghorn Chicken

959 North Western Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 394-4444 Visit Website

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

400 South Financial Place, , IL 60605 (312) 285-2207 Visit Website