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Fresh Bites

We all have our favorite dining spots, but variety, as they say, is the spice of life. With so many exciting restaurants opening around the city, now is the perfect time to expand your palate and experience the latest offerings from some of Chicago’s finest chefs.

Lao 18

1. Be transported to the heart of Paris at Brindille, chef Carrie Nahabedian’s new River North delight. Indulge your inner Francophile with the foie gras with rhubarb, fennel and candied olives ($27), followed by the lamb saddle ($44) and the decadent fantaisie au chocolat ($14), all of which can be paired with options from the extensive wine list. 534 N. Clark St., 312.595.1616,

2. Indonesian street food culture has arrived at Lincoln Park’s Rickshaw Republic. This cozy, family-owned (and reservation-free) eatery is chock full of authentic southeast Asian flavors—think ketoprak (rice noodles, fried tofu and bean sprouts tossed in a peanut sauce, ($12)) and savory beef randang ($14)—and an ever-changing list of “Mom's Specials.” 2312 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.697.4750,

3. You’ll be hard-pressed to not find a line at Parson’s Chicken & Fish, but this red-hot newcomer is proof that patience is a virtue. Come for the crave-worthy chicken, but stay for the hush puppies ($4) and cod fritters ($5). And while chicken may be the headliner, we can’t get enough of the oysters ($14 for a half dozen) and tasty funnel cakes ($6). 2952 W. Armitage Ave., 773.384.3333,

4. Authentic Chinese cuisine and trendy River North collide at Lao 18, the latest venture of the prolific Tony Hu. The sleek, modern interior is bested only by Hu’s gourmet spin classics like sesame chicken ($14) and a stellar Peking duck ($39). We’re already hooked on the new dim sum lunch menu, featuring everything from shrimp dumplings ($7) to steamed spare ribs ($6). 18 W. Hubbard St., 312.955.8018,

5. Euro-Asian flavors form a perfect marriage at Logan Square’s Fat Rice, where chef Abraham Conlon serves up vibrant dishes like tea-smoked tofu with pickled chili and ginger ($10) and fish curry with okra, zucchini and mint ($28). Don’t pass up the adult-friendly “soft drinks.” You’ll find us sipping the Callan Club ($9), a delicious mix of rum, tamarind, vanilla and star anise. 2957 W. Diversey Ave., 773.661.9170,