Blackbird Paul Kahan’s masterpiece offers both an a la carte menu and a tasting menu (9 or 10 courses). The latter, which is built around a single animal and changes monthly, offers the best insight into the chef ’s art. Pastry chef Nicole Guini’s sweets follow seamlessly.
Open: Dinner daily, lunch Monday-Friday. Prices: Entrees $30-$42, tasting menu about $115. 619 W. Randolph St., 312-715-0708. — P.V.
Bonci This Roman import serves pizza with a light-as-air crust that’s topped with hundreds of different high quality toppings, from traditional tomato sauce and cheese to ’nduja, burrata, potato and fresh mint. While serving some of the best pizza in Chicago, this is mostly a to-go operation, with no tables and only a few counter seats.
Open: Lunch and dinner seven days a week. 161 N. Sangamon St., 312-243-4016. — N.K.
City Mouse From the team that created Giant, in Logan Square, comes this casual, brunch and dinner restaurant in the Ace Hotel in the Fulton Market District. Executive chef Patrick Sheerin oversees the eclectic menu, ranging from seriously good pastas to offbeat dishes such as fried artichokes buried under pork ragu and fried cheddar bites topped with caviar. During daytime hours, the brunch menu features griddle cakes, a double-patty burger and a “gas station” breakfast sandwich. The open-to-the-lobby is lively and loud, and there’s a delightful outdoor patio equipped with fire pits.
Open: Brunch and dinner daily. 311 N. Morgan St., 312-7641908. — P.V.
La Josie The kitchen is led by executive Saul Chavez, a Mercadito vet. He and his crew dish up supple, house-made tortillas that waft splendid corn perfume. The fillings include a silky veal cheek barbacoa and tender cochinita pibil, featuring a sinus-clearing habanero salsa that gives you a serious chile high. The carbonflecked al pastor is crispy, juicy and riddled with smoky pineapple. It has a serious case for best al pastor in Chicago. Guacamole, too, is inspired. Chef/owner Pepe Barajas is not yet a big star just yet, but his vision and execution of a gourmet Mexican experience on Randolph means he’s about to be a household name.
Open: Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, weekend brunch. Prices: Entrees $14-$35. 740 W. Randolph St., 312929-2900. — M.N.
The Loyalist One flight below the acclaimed Smyth restaurant lurks John