Subway: Green, Pink to Clinton(312) 377-2002 avecrestaurant.com41.884226 -87.643382 615 W Randolph St (between Jefferson and Desplaines Sts) West Loop, Chicago
DinnerAverage small plate: $8, average large plate: $17
This nationally acclaimed small-plates spot looks like a sauna, has communal seating, doesn’t take reservations and is loud as hell. But it remains the must-eat spot for foodies in the know. Chef Erling Wu-Bower mostly sticks to the Mediterranean formula that original chef Koren Grieveson put into place (and has wisely held on to her most famous dishes, such as the chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates and the taleggio-filled foccacia). Is his food a little more involved—a little less simple—than the avec of the past? Sure. But despite the extra elements in his intoxicating squid-ink pasta dishes, or the layered flavors in his salumi plates, Wu-Bower's food is still pure, delicious avec.