Small bites with big flavor win every time. You could add any of these legendary menu items as a starter or a side. Better yet, make your own tapas evening and scout out a few choice locations around the North Shore. From the fried or cheesy to the rich or spicy, every flavor will dazzle. Sample from the best on the list below or find new faves with Where to Eat on Chicago’s North Shore.
Farmhouse Evanston (703 Church St., Evanston) tempts with Brown Dog Farm Honey Ricotta, a creamy whipped version, honey fresh from the farm with balsamic and a Maldon salt toasted baguette. Ooey gooey Barrata tops the “share plate” favorites with Italian burrata, basil oil, crushed fresh tomato, balsamic syrup and Maldon sea salt served with toasted sourdough at Five and Dime (1026 Davis St. Evanston). Smoked Queso Dip—a special combo of the finest cheese, green chiles, tomatoes and onion—with tortilla chips wows at Rocky’s American Grill (698 Milwaukee Ave., Prospect Heights).
Bar Louie, Skokie
Taters and Fried Deliciousness
Bar Louie (5300 W. Touhy Ave., Skokie) keeps trotting out those Loaded Tots with queso, fresh jalapenos, applewood-smoked bacon and scallions. Continue your tour on the wild side with Hangar Two by Tangled Roots Brewing Co. (1100 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview) which sports Out & In Wild Bison Fries. You read right; it’s American ground bison with pickled Fresno chilies, caramelized onions, “wild” sauce and bone marrow au poivre. Make a big “dill” out of it and order the Fried Pickles at City Works Eatery and Pourhouse (365 W. Dundee Rd., Wheeling), all beer-battered with ranch dressing.
Happ Inn, Northfield
Get your fresh on with The Happ Inn’s (305 Happ Rd., Northfield) Famous Guacamole of fresh avocado topped with house-made pico de gallo and served with warm crispy corn tortilla chips. Guildhall Restaurant (694 Vernon Ave., Glencoe) positively enthralls with their Wood Oven Cauliflower, whole roasted and enlightened with green yogurt, zatar and tahini sauce. You won't be able to stop at just one when it comes to Spirit Elephant's (924 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka) mouthwatering Cauli-Wings! Choose from Buffalo, BBQ, Wasabi-Dijon or Mango-Chili flavors.
Bonefish Grill, Skokie
Something’s Fishy … in the Best Possible Way
Not sure if it’s possible to not order the phenomenal Bang Bang Shrimp when you hit Bonefish Grill (9310 Skokie Blvd., Skokie) with that crispy shrimp tossed in its signature creamy, spicy sauce. Morton’s the Steakhouse (699 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook) is so much more than beef. Their Ahi Tuna Poke pairs the fresh-caught fish with watercress, chile and ginger salad. Aboyer (64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka) makes magic happen when their Caramelized Diver Scallops accompany Belgium endive gratinee with tarragon emulsion; it’s a sweet, briny gift from the sea.