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Noyane’s secret tempura cashew shrimp.
Noyane [Official Photo]

12 Secret Off-Menu Dishes Worth Trying in Chicago

From bone marrow bourbon shots to grilled cheese burger buns

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Noyane’s secret tempura cashew shrimp.
| Noyane [Official Photo]

Have diners tried sushi staple Arami’s taco hand roll? Did eaters know that at any M Burger location, they can order a burger with grilled cheese sandwiches in place of buns? Likely not ... because neither of those options is listed on the menu. Below, 12 eateries around town offering secret dishes for those in the know. Want to know? Read on.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Drawl Southern Cookhouse & Whiskey Room

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2423 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 687-8111
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Drawl Southern Cookhouse and Whiskey Room in Lincoln Park wants to feed everyone ribs. On Tuesday nights, chef Justin Stadler sells an off-menu rack of smoked barbecue ribs ($27). To prepare them, he brines the ribs for 24 hours, dry-rubs them with spices, then smokes them low and slow for six hours. Afterward, he finishes them in a wood-fire oven, dressed Texas-style, with a Coca-Cola barbecue sauce.

 

Rack of Ribs
Drawl Southern Cookhouse & Whiskey Room [Official Photo]

2. Oyster Bah

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1962 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-3000
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Not all oysters at Lincoln Park’s Oyster Bah come raw. Just ask a server or bartender for fried or grilled oysters ($3.50 each). Fried oysters are served classically with tartar sauce and lemon, while grilled oysters come on the half shell with panko, garlic butter, and grilled ciabatta.

Fried Oysters
Oyster Bah [Official Photo]

3. etta

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1840 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 757-4444
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Neighborhood new American eatery etta in Bucktown has a playful off-menu special. Ask for bone marrow ($18), and receive bone marrow with oxtail, potato purée, and bacon jam ... plus a comp shot of bourbon, to be taken through the bone.

Booze and Bone Marrow
etta [Official Photo]

4. Le Colonial

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57 E Oak St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 255-0088
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On offer this May, and only during lunch service, chef Quoc Luong at newly-relocated Le Colonial is offering an off-menu savory Vietnamese crepe ($15) known as banh xeo. Pop in for his Southern Vietnamese-style version, imbued with coconut and turmeric, plus shrimp, chicken, and beansprouts. On the side, lettuce, aromatic herbs, and a traditional nuoc cham-based sauce.

Banh Xeo
Le Colonial [Official Photo]

5. Café Marie-Jeanne

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1001 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 904-7660
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Since 2017, Café Marie-Jeanne chef and owner Mike Simmons has been serving an off-menu secret dish called “Gonzo Toast” ($46). Inspired by what Simmons likes to eat post-service, the dish is built from house-made sourdough topped with crème fraîche, sturgeon roe, uni, and brisket. The dish is garnished with more caviar, dill, and a lemon cheek. Why the name? Because this order is “completely freakin’ gonzo!”

Gonzo Toast
Café Marie-Jeanne [Official Photo]

6. Arami

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1829 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-1535
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West Town sushi stalwart Arami has served an off-menu fusion mashup since the restaurant’s debut. Owner Ty Fujimura urges guests to try Arami’s spicy tako hand roll ($11): cone-style maki with spicy octopus, scallion, sweet soy, and tempura flakes.

Taco Hand Roll
Arami [Official Photo]

7. M Burger

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161 E Huron St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 254-8500
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Local burger chainlet M Burger offers a few off-menu dishes. In addition to the barnyard burger ($9.49)— which is filled with a beef patty, chicken breast, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, pickles, and onions— those who request that their burger be served Roman-style ($6), will snag grilled cheese sandwiches in place of burger buns.

Romam-style, at M Burger
M Burger [Official Photo]

8. Noyane

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101 E Erie St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 667-6796
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A couple days ago, when Japanese lounge Noyane atop Mag Mile’s Conrad hotel officially opened for the season, chef Emilio Gonzalez added a new off-menu dish. His tempura cashew shrimp ($16) will be on offer by word of mouth all day, until sold out.

Tempura cashew shrimp
Noyane [Official Photo]

9. Quartino Ristorante

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626 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 698-5000
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A favorite for those in the know, River North Italian number Quartino offers an off-menu dessert: tiramisu ($9). Chef Crystal Womelsdorf builds the dish with lady fingers dipped in a mixture of espresso, marsala wine, and brandy, then layers the cookies with creamy mascarpone and tops it all off with coca powder. Try it during lunch or dinner.

Tiramisu
Quartino [Official Photo]

10. Ramen-San

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59 W Hubbard St #2
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 377-9950
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While Ramen-San may be best known for its slurp-able Japanese noodle soups, chef Doug Psaltis does offer one non-soupy off-menu item at all locations. Ask to try the restaurant’s chicken wings ($11), which come in two flavors: spicy Szechuan and sticky Thai.

Chicken wings
Zoe Rain

11. Gibsons Italia

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233 N Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 414-1100
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Over at Italian steakhouse Gibsons Italia, executive chef José Sosa has a new off-menu Japanese Kobe beef tartare ($45) available during dinner service. The dish calls for A5 Japanese Kobe beef blended with smoked olive oil, shallots, and chervil, garnished with pickled pearl onion, egg yolk, caramelized onion purée, plus sun choke chips for dipping.

Japanese Kobe beef tartare
Gibsons Italia [Official Photo]

12. BLVD

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817 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 526-3116
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Executive chef Johnny Besch at West Loop new American eatery BLVD wanted to kick his cacio e pepe up a few notches. So, he added peppered bacon, herbs, and an amish egg yolk to dish, creating his now hotly-desired carbonara ($20). The dish has been available during dinner service for the last six months.

Carbonara pasta
BLVD [Official Photo]

1. Drawl Southern Cookhouse & Whiskey Room

2423 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Rack of Ribs
Drawl Southern Cookhouse & Whiskey Room [Official Photo]

Drawl Southern Cookhouse and Whiskey Room in Lincoln Park wants to feed everyone ribs. On Tuesday nights, chef Justin Stadler sells an off-menu rack of smoked barbecue ribs ($27). To prepare them, he brines the ribs for 24 hours, dry-rubs them with spices, then smokes them low and slow for six hours. Afterward, he finishes them in a wood-fire oven, dressed Texas-style, with a Coca-Cola barbecue sauce.

 

2423 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

2. Oyster Bah

1962 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Fried Oysters
Oyster Bah [Official Photo]

Not all oysters at Lincoln Park’s Oyster Bah come raw. Just ask a server or bartender for fried or grilled oysters ($3.50 each). Fried oysters are served classically with tartar sauce and lemon, while grilled oysters come on the half shell with panko, garlic butter, and grilled ciabatta.

1962 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

3. etta

1840 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Booze and Bone Marrow
etta [Official Photo]

Neighborhood new American eatery etta in Bucktown has a playful off-menu special. Ask for bone marrow ($18), and receive bone marrow with oxtail, potato purée, and bacon jam ... plus a comp shot of bourbon, to be taken through the bone.

1840 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

4. Le Colonial

57 E Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611
Banh Xeo
Le Colonial [Official Photo]

On offer this May, and only during lunch service, chef Quoc Luong at newly-relocated Le Colonial is offering an off-menu savory Vietnamese crepe ($15) known as banh xeo. Pop in for his Southern Vietnamese-style version, imbued with coconut and turmeric, plus shrimp, chicken, and beansprouts. On the side, lettuce, aromatic herbs, and a traditional nuoc cham-based sauce.

57 E Oak St
Chicago, IL 60611

5. Café Marie-Jeanne

1001 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Gonzo Toast
Café Marie-Jeanne [Official Photo]

Since 2017, Café Marie-Jeanne chef and owner Mike Simmons has been serving an off-menu secret dish called “Gonzo Toast” ($46). Inspired by what Simmons likes to eat post-service, the dish is built from house-made sourdough topped with crème fraîche, sturgeon roe, uni, and brisket. The dish is garnished with more caviar, dill, and a lemon cheek. Why the name? Because this order is “completely freakin’ gonzo!”

1001 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

6. Arami

1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Taco Hand Roll
Arami [Official Photo]

West Town sushi stalwart Arami has served an off-menu fusion mashup since the restaurant’s debut. Owner Ty Fujimura urges guests to try Arami’s spicy tako hand roll ($11): cone-style maki with spicy octopus, scallion, sweet soy, and tempura flakes.

1829 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

7. M Burger

161 E Huron St, Chicago, IL 60611
Romam-style, at M Burger
M Burger [Official Photo]

Local burger chainlet M Burger offers a few off-menu dishes. In addition to the barnyard burger ($9.49)— which is filled with a beef patty, chicken breast, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, pickles, and onions— those who request that their burger be served Roman-style ($6), will snag grilled cheese sandwiches in place of burger buns.

161 E Huron St
Chicago, IL 60611

8. Noyane

101 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Tempura cashew shrimp
Noyane [Official Photo]

A couple days ago, when Japanese lounge Noyane atop Mag Mile’s Conrad hotel officially opened for the season, chef Emilio Gonzalez added a new off-menu dish. His tempura cashew shrimp ($16) will be on offer by word of mouth all day, until sold out.

101 E Erie St
Chicago, IL 60611

9. Quartino Ristorante

626 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
Tiramisu
Quartino [Official Photo]

A favorite for those in the know, River North Italian number Quartino offers an off-menu dessert: tiramisu ($9). Chef Crystal Womelsdorf builds the dish with lady fingers dipped in a mixture of espresso, marsala wine, and brandy, then layers the cookies with creamy mascarpone and tops it all off with coca powder. Try it during lunch or dinner.

626 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Ramen-San

59 W Hubbard St #2, Chicago, IL 60654
Chicken wings
Zoe Rain

While Ramen-San may be best known for its slurp-able Japanese noodle soups, chef Doug Psaltis does offer one non-soupy off-menu item at all locations. Ask to try the restaurant’s chicken wings ($11), which come in two flavors: spicy Szechuan and sticky Thai.

59 W Hubbard St #2
Chicago, IL 60654

11. Gibsons Italia

233 N Canal St, Chicago, IL 60606
Japanese Kobe beef tartare
Gibsons Italia [Official Photo]

Over at Italian steakhouse Gibsons Italia, executive chef José Sosa has a new off-menu Japanese Kobe beef tartare ($45) available during dinner service. The dish calls for A5 Japanese Kobe beef blended with smoked olive oil, shallots, and chervil, garnished with pickled pearl onion, egg yolk, caramelized onion purée, plus sun choke chips for dipping.

233 N Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606

12. BLVD

817 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607
Carbonara pasta
BLVD [Official Photo]

Executive chef Johnny Besch at West Loop new American eatery BLVD wanted to kick his cacio e pepe up a few notches. So, he added peppered bacon, herbs, and an amish egg yolk to dish, creating his now hotly-desired carbonara ($20). The dish has been available during dinner service for the last six months.

817 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

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