While some restaurants are known for their variety, lately many places have cropped up that specialize in one tantalizing offering. Of course, hot dog stands, burger joints and pizza parlors are the norm, but those are no longer the only treats deemed worthy of the spotlight. Whether you're craving crepes, cookies or cold cuts, you'll find what you're looking for at one of these hot spots — without a massive menu coming between you and your goal.
The whimsical Crepes a Latte The Cafe in North Center has every kind of crepe imaginable, from breakfast crepes like egg and cheese and crumbled blueberry muffin, to savory options like baked brie and apples and honey-glazed ham, to dessert favorites like Nutella banana and caramel apple pie.
Also try: La Creperie, Crepe Crave
Without a doubt, 2010 is the year of the pig. With restaurants like The Publican and Old Town Social setting the stage, this year brought us even more pork-centric eateries, the latest being Avondale's Pork Shoppe. Pig out on baby back ribs, pulled pork shoulder and pork belly pastrami, all sourced from local farms.
Also try: The Purple Pig, The Piggery
Chains like Einstein Bros. and Great American Bagel have specialized in this carb-laden treat for decades, but Bagel on Damen in Ukranian Village is stepping it up a notch with bagels from Lincolnwood's famed New York Bagel & Bialy, inventive shmears like white truffle and toasted pine nut, and bagel sandwiches like The Alexander the Great — with turkey, bacon, gouda, Granny Smith apples, avocado and Russian dressing.
Lines are still forming at the new Black Dog Gelato shop, which attracted a following at restaurants like Uncommon Ground and Socca. The shop serves unique flavors such as Mexican hot chocolate and goat cheese cashew caramel, plus gelato cookie sandwiches and the famed whiskey gelato bar — whiskey gelato on a stick covered in chocolate and bacon.
Also try: Paciugo, Bellezza Gelato Caffe
Forever Yogurt, a glittery, neon-colored Wicker Park fro yo shop, lets visitors make their own sweet treats. Start with your choice of flavors — like cookies and cream, red velvet cake or mom’s cake batter — and pile on as many toppings as your heart desires, ranging from fresh berries to candy pieces to breakfast cereals. Also try: FreshBerry
, Yogen Fruz
The cupcake craze rages on with the addition of growing chain Sprinkles Cupcakes to the Gold Coast. Claiming to be the world's first cupcake bakery, Sprinkles’ treats can be identified by the edible sugar polka dot on top that tells you which flavor it is.
Also try: more, Molly’s Cupcakes, Flirty Cupcakes (truck)
Pork isn't the only white meat in town. The South Side's Just Turkey is proud to serve many variations of the Thanksgiving staple, from turkey ribs to jerk turkey burgers to deep-fried turkey wings. Not enough turkey for you? Add a side of turkey bacon or turkey spaghetti.
While Rockit, Hot Doug's and Five Guys are known for their delectable french fries, they still play a supporting role to the main event. At Frietkoten at the Chicago French Market, the hand-cut Belgian-style fries take center stage, served in a paper cone with your choice of 20 dipping sauces.
After earning street cred at Green City Market and local coffee shops, Hoosier Mama Pie Company opened its own shop in Ukrainian Village earlier this year. Available by the slice or whole pie, mouth-watering options range from classic apple, cherry and banana cream pies to savory selections like chicken pot pie and various quiches.
It was only a matter of time before another baked good tried to usurp the cupcake throne. Lincoln Park's Cookie Bar has at least 18 kinds of cookies daily, ranging from snickerdoodle to potato chip chocolate chip to vegan chai. Compare their gelato cookie sandwiches to those at Black Dog.