The fish-sauce wings at Ca Phe Da have quickly entered the canon. // Photo by Jaclyn Rivas
The fish-sauce wings at Ca Phe Da have quickly entered the canon. // Photo by Jaclyn Rivas

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The Resy Guide to the New Classic Dishes of Chicago

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When iTunes began selling 99-cent songs, album purists decried the move as the end of the music experience as we know it. A record is a beginning-to-end narrative experience, they’d argue, meant to be consumed as a whole and not piecemeal.

This proved to be a weak argument.

Allow me to be more provocative: As much as I love sitting down for two hours to a complete meal, I’m a proponent of restaurant-hopping. There’s a case for going to three places in one night, sitting at the bar, and ordering the restaurant’s specialty. Sometimes I just want the hit single.

Chicago is uniquely situated to allow this type of gastronomic grazing. Our geographic compactness allows us to experience a wide variety of neighborhoods and cuisines in one day. (Have you ever driven from the San Gabriel Valley to Manhattan Beach to Westwood in less than 10 hours?) Sure, you can eat merrily along Randolph Street in the West Loop. But Chicago has always been about the sum of the parts.

There are dishes I’d consider all-time Chicago classics: Au Cheval’s cheeseburger, Pequod’s pizza, the tip-link combo at Lem’s, Frontera Grill’s sopa de Azteca. But every few years, we should consider a new class.

And so, as we enter the Roaring ’20’s, let’s anoint these seven dishes the New Chicago Classics.

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