HaiSous It may seem odd to travel to Pilsen to experience Chicago’s best Vietnamese restaurant. You’ll get over it. At the brilliant HaiSous, Thai and Danielle Dang offer a pleasant (if occasionally noisy) 115-seat dining room with excellent service and price-conscious drinks, all in service to Thai Dang’s skillful cooking and appealing, cliche-free menu.
Open: Dinner daily. Prices: Large plates $16-$25. 1800 S. Carpenter St., 312-702-1303. — P.V.
Monnie Burke’s Anan Abu-Taleb, a restaurateur who also happens to be the mayor of Oak Park, put up a paradise with Monnie Burke’s, a Pilsen destination for American dining with Mediterranean influences. The menu, by culinary director Michael Shrader (previously of Matthias Merges’ Folkart group) isn’t exciting at first, but the execution is impressive, bordering on thrilling. He ups the ante on otherwise ubiquitous starters such as octopus, avocado toast and nicoise salad, and entrees don’t miss a beat, whether it’s a prettily presented Faroe Island salmon or slices of duck breast glistening underneath fermented cherry sauce. Desserts, also by Shrader, represent a stroll through the chef ’s childhood. A landscaped patio with radiant heating ensures a longer al fresco season.
Open: Dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Prices: Entrees $15-$28. 1163 W. 18th St., 312-243-2410. — P.V.
S.K.Y. At S.K.Y. in Pilsen, out-oftowner chef Stephen Gillanders (formerly of Lettuce Entertain You’s Intro) wows with fine-dining finesse. Gillanders shows a deft hand with heat, which he employs the way other chefs use acidity. The highlight of his fried chicken (a boneless, skinless thigh), is the twice-fermented hot