50 Must-Try Tastes

From cozy neighborhood joints to swank sushi bars and fine French restaurants, the North Shore serves up its share of delicious bites, sweet treats and innovative cocktails. Here, a taste of our faves.

Merlo’s brick chicken, prosciutto and arugula pizza, and broccoli salad

Roka Akor’s Moscow Mule

Not your grandmother’s meatballs at Found

Apple Streudel
Ten inches long with a 4-ounce cup of caramel for easy dousing, L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge’s apple strudel is as big as a burrito, stuffed to its flaky gills with Granny Smith apples. It takes 45 minutes to make—less than five to devour. $11, 7110 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood, 847.677.3350

Moscow Mule
2013 Michelin Guide-recommended Roka Akor is opening a new location at Old Orchard this summer. The fish and sushi are top grade and the cocktails are beyond inspired. Try their refreshing take on a Moscow Mule, select from an unbelievably extensive sake list or try one of their shochu spirits that are said to have medicinal qualities. $13, 4999 Old Orchard Center, 312.477.7652

Brick Chicken
Merlo’s Italian Restaurant serves up a brick chicken dish that is sautéed under a cooking stone and topped with a sauce of white wine, garlic, rosemary and a touch of lemon. The dish manages to be boneless, crispy and moist and is engulfed in thick-cut rosemary potatoes for extra comfort. Order the prosciutto and arugula pizza (two strong tastes that complement one another but don’t compete) along with the broccoli salad—perfect for the table to share. $12 half chicken, $21 full chicken, $12 pizza, $8 broccoli salad. 581 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 847.266.0600

Grilled Octopus
By the time Avli Estiatorio’s octopus, imported from waters near the Canary Islands, reaches you, it’s been braised, marinated, refrigerated and then grilled with sweet red onions, a gauntlet of tenderization that puts any old bottle of MSG to shame. This authentic Greek courtyard restaurant is a hidden gem. $11/$18, 566 Chestnut St., Winnetka, 847.446.9300

Patatas Bravas
Executive Chef and owner Benjamin Brittsan repurposed Cafe Benjamin into the newly opened Benjamin Tapas. You will no doubt be addicted to the patatas bravas—traditional Spanish fried potatoes served with a spicy red pepper aioli. Don’t forget to order some housemade sangria that pairs perfectly with this tapas classic for $5 a glass or $20 a pitcher. $6 for tapas, 1849 Second St., Highland Park, 847.748.8737

French Onion Soup
Bistro Bordeaux’s French onion soup is as beefy as the house’s steak frites, sealed under a thick blanket of Emmental and 12-month-old Comté cheeses, which transform a familiar starter into an umami-rich masterpiece. $8.50, 618 Church St., Evanston, 847.424.1483

Blackened Catfish
The Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop is easy to like, and that’s partly because the blackened catfish delights with just-right seasoning and a lemon wedge. Eat the catfish fillet with buttery mashed sweet potatoes and you’ll be in heaven. $6.50 for the lunch special, 825 Church St., Evanston, 847.733.9030

Chilean Sea Bass
It’s hard to choose between unbelievably tender veal dishes and this Chilean sea bass in “crazy water”—sautéed in shallots, white wine, rosemary and plum tomatoes alongside zucchini that is perfectly al dente—at Bobby’s Deerfield. $31, 695 Deerfield Road, Deerfield, 847.607.9104

Exotic Bamba
Shakou Modern Japanese Cuisine, a happening new resto with a late-night lounge, serves up amazing Japanese food as well as desserts worthy of attention—and sharing. The exotic bamba lives up to its name—mango, passion fruit and raspberry sorbetto covered in white chocolate is a surprisingly delicious marriage of unlikely partners. $7, 625 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, 224.433.6675

Lamb Meatballs
Found Kitchen & Social House’s lamb meatballs with pistachio chimichurri and yogurt will guarantee you’ll never go vegan—not with just the right balance of spice, flavor and texture. It’s meant to be shared but you won’t want to. $13, 1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847.868.8945

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