Hey, want to know a secret? We’ve got 28 restaurants that have been hiding menu items from you, but now you have the power to try them all. Are you looking for a giant burger obsessed over by a chef? How about a "baller" sushi roll? Or a Wagyu prime beef dinner you’ll need to take a loan out for and invite at least five of your friends to eat it with you? Look over all of our secret menu items in the map and sound off below if we missed any of your favorites.Read More
Get In The Know With 28 Secret Menu Items at Chicago Restaurants
1. La Sirena Clandestina
You can dig into John Manion's fejioada fries any time of the day. The fries are topped with black beans, provolone, pickled fresno chiles, green onions, mustard and a fried egg.
2. Ceres' Table
Chef Giuseppe Scurato's calf's liver dish has such a devoted following that he keeps the offal on hand no matter how many times he changes his menu just so he doesn't disappoint guests. Scurato prepares the dish with applewood bacon, burnt onion, balsamic and parsley oil.
3. Twisted Spoke
The rather ribaldly named McGangBang, a secret menu item inspired by a McDonald's secret menu item (how meta) has a fried chicken breast, two hamburger patties, three slices of cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickle and various secret sauces. You get all that with a side of fries (and some shame for speaking the name) for $16.
Frontier’s executive chef Brian Jupiter features a few large format, whole animal dinners, but there’s one that is a bit of a secret: Wagyu beef prime rib. The limited quantity meal is meant for at least six people and will set you back a hefty $700, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Bar manager Sean Nielson can also make you an off menu tequila and Verdita shot/back for $7.
5. Michael Jordan's Steak House Chicago
Go big like MJ with the bar only/off menu Killer B Burger that comes with a bourbon milkshake. The bacon and blue cheese burger sits between two pieces of signature garlic bread then drizzled with blue cheese fondue. Chest constriction be damned!
6. Commonwealth Tavern
After making it for Burgerfest last summer, chef Donny Farrell decided to offer the "Off Menu Burger" ($15) with one restriction: no modifications. The burger, which features tavern sauce, bread and butter pickles and fried onions on a New England bun, is known by regulars but servers will occasionally hip people to it. Farrell also has a an "Off Menu BELT" (also $15) with bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato, that is only available for weekend brunch.
7. III Forks Prime Steakhouse
Get decadent with the $26 off menu "Grand Daddy Paddy Melt," which has 10 ounces of certified Angus beef, Hook's 5-year white cheddar, fried red onions, crispy pork belly and saffron horseradish mayo in between toasted marble rye.
8. Joe Fish
Though known for their fish and seafood, Joe Fish's chef Joe Farina can make a Kobe beef hot dog that's wrapped in bacon, topped with caramelized onions that's placed into a toasted brioche bun (you get fries with it, too). Available during dinner service only.
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There are three items you can ask executive chef/owner Martial Noguier to make for you for which he always keeps ingredients handy. First is the Nancy Camembert grilled cheese (pictured - brioche, truffle butter, Mizuna salad); prime steak tartare with frites tossed with black truffle salt; and a New York steak sandwich (mixed greens salad, frites tossed with black truffle salt).
10. Kanela Breakfast Club
Grab either the French toast flight (orange, lemon poppy seed, red velvet, banana) that is topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries and creme anglaise, or a breakfast flatbread (bacon, egg and cheese) for $12 at any of Kanela's locations. Both are occasionally served as a special, but more often that not you'll have to ask to get them.
11. Rockit Burger Bar
Rockit Burger Bar is taking their off menu cinco burger to a whole other level with five quarter pound patties, five slices of habanero cheese, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun with a side of fries for $21. It’s also a contest: if you finish the burger and fries you win a t-shirt. We’re assuming the shirt doesn’t say “I ate a gigantic burger and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
12. Oak + Char
An homage to the Juicy Lucy at Matt's in Minneapolis, chef Joe Heppe's secret, off menu item is The Loose Lucy, a stuffed cheeseburger with toppings that often change (tonight it will have smoked veggie shoestrings and bourbon pickles) along with garnishes so secret we can't print them here!
13. Stout Barrel House and Galley
If you want to quell your hunger, you might check out the "Stoutastic Classic," a huge burger consisting of two quarter-pound beef patties that gets seared on a flat top, then served with lettuce, tomato, Stout's special sauce and fries for $12. They also recommend washing it down with a Revolution Anti-Hero IPA for $6. You might want to listen to them.
14. Bar Toma
Put in your request for Bar Toma's thin crust deep dish and you'll get a different take on a Chicago classic. The dough is first covered in cheese, then a patty of housemade pork sausage (covering the entire pizza), followed by spicy tomato sauce before getting sprinkled with Grana Padano cheese and Calabrian oregano and put into their wood burning oven.
You can ask for the Pasta de Jesus (pomodoro) with chitarra pasta, roma tomatoes, fresh basil and marinara for $18 at this Loop favorite.
Guapichosa, the long running off menu burger special at Scofflaw, currently finds chef Sue Litz building it thusly: bun, Russian dressing, pickles, tomatoes, fried eggplant, tomato sauce, grated Parmesan, schnitzel patty, two burger patties with cheese, soubise (caramelized onions), chicken liver mousse, salad and capped off with a top bun. Only five are made per night, so get there early to try Litz’s current incarnation before it changes!
You wanna be a baller? Well order the off menu baller roll at Sunda. The $75 roll features toro, Japanese wagyu, fish roe, black truffle, crispy chip, wasabi crème, soy truffle vinaigrette and scallions. Or go on the sour side with the Sunda sizzling sisig (pictured), a Filipino dish featuring pork belly, tripe, diced red onions, julienned shishito peppers, foie gras gravy, a fried egg, lime and scallions.
The year round off menu item of carbonara features homemade duck egg pasta with house cured pancetta, wild mushrooms, duck egg yolk and Wisconsin Parmesan.
19. ¡Ay Chiwowa!
You can get the Mexican hot chocolate ($6) year-round (it gets hyped when the weather turns especially cold). Partner Arturo Gomez put this one together and it features whole milk, Abuelita’s brand chocolate, butterscotch and tequila reposado. Another item that should warm you up is their off menu chorizo sausage pizza (pictured) which has a flour tortilla crust that is topped with refried pinto beans, housemade tomato salsa, Chihuahua cheese, pickled onions, diced jalapenos ($8).
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You don’t have to be a visiting chef or friend of the house to get Kinmont’s oysters bourgeoie, which goes into the oven and is then topped with housemade Perigord black truffle conserva and trout roe.
Those in the know realize how good fish collars can be and at Ani their secret menu item features these flavorful and tender cuts. Simply roasted and dressed with sansho pepper, sweet soy reduction and garnished with yuzu kosho and scallion, executive chef Shin Matsuda's collar creations will run you between $12 and $17.
22. Centro Ristorante
Available for both lunch and dinner, chef Joe Farina makes a chicken Parmesan pizza out of two boneless chicken breasts that he pounds thin to form a pizza shape. The chicken is lightly floured and seasoned, dipped in egg wash and covered with Italian bread crumbs before getting pan fried. The "pizza" is then topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese before baking in the oven.
23. The Winchester
It’s not on Greg Bastien’s menu, but you can get his take on a grilled cheese (butterkase on wheat) which comes with a cup of spicy tomato and roasted garlic soup for $10 (daytime hours only).
24. The Violet Hour
If you have an encyclopedic memory, go ahead and conjure up an order of cocktails past at The Violet Hour, they'll be able to make almost any drink from previous menus. Like the El Topo with tequila, mezcal, lime, cucumber, strawberry and house hot sauce.
Be part of the in crowd and order head sushi chef Nelson Vinansaca's special temaki hand rolls. One of the more popular ones is akami bluefin tuna with oshinko, cilantro, ohba leaf, wasabi tobiko and masago that is dressed with togarashi, rya chili oil, spicy mayo and a drizzle of ponzu for $11.
26. Slurping Turtle
Chef Takashi Yagihashi has a bowl of noodles you can only get if you ask for it. The natto soba features soba noodles, natto (fermented soybeans), shredded nori, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), quail eggs and broth. The restaurant keeps the ingredients on hand for Japanese visitors or, now that you’re reading this, you.
27. Big Star
If you're ordering the ensalada de Big Star, go ahead and ask to add any protein they're serving up that day, they'll gladly hook you up.
28. mk The Restaurant
Chef Erick Williams says that, with a day’s notice, they can usually prepare many dishes the restaurant has served in the past. Depending on availability, their Nantucket bay scallops served with Meyer lemon, shaved fennel, fennel pollen, Tuscan olive oil, tarragon and chervil her salad with crisp shallots is a customer favorite.