When dining in Chicago, one is so the loneliest number. Why sample just one delicious option when you could try...more than one? We found killer Chicago cuisine that's meant to be shared by two (or more!) fierce foodies, and we'll tell you when to try them. Sharing on your second date? We know where to go. Overdue for a dish-session with your vegetarian BFF? You're covered. Clear your calendar, because our city is packed with enough options to keep you busy—and satiated—for a long, long time.
Mana Food Bar: We've all got friends (this editor included) who refuse to entertain the idea of vegetarian dining. Mana will turn them all into believers. Start out with a little baked goat cheese, and then ease into some mushroom saute and sweet potato pancakes. They won't stand a chance. Mana Food Bar; 1742 West Division Street (at North Wood Street); 773-342-1742.
Rootstock: You knew at least one resto that made the cut would have some killer booze. Here she is. Rootstock is first and foremost a wine bar, but apparently they've decided to rock some incredible food just for kicks. This one's also a great spot when showing the parents a good time. The space is intimate and never gets too noisy. Trust the staff's advice on wine pairings...many wine pairings, and if you see someone in the corner refusing to share the poached pear and pistachio crust, it's us. Rootstock, 954 North California Avenue (at Augusta Avenue); 773-292-1616.
Nightwood: Get over your fear of traveling past your comfy five-block radius and go to Pilsen. Nightwood is your first reason for going, and the roasted beets with goat cheese and grilled baguette is the second. This one is our top pick not only for sharing, but specifically for sharing on a date. The atmosphere is comfortable and chic without being too romantic. Nightwood, 2119 South Halsted Street (at West 21st Street); 312-526-3385.
Photo by Jason Little.
The Purple Pig: Choosing a favorite from the endless sharable options at The Purple Pig is like trying to pick a favorite among your pets. It's not possible. If you need a little guidance, start with the stuffed olives, or the deviled eggs, or the truffle smear. See? We can't even do it. Try it when you and your office-mates are stumped for dinner plans. The Purple Pig, 500 North Michigan Avenue (just South of East Grand Avenue); 312-464-1744.
Avec: Prepare to have inappropriately romantic feelings for food. For most of your evening, we will leave you to your own devices, but for starters you are ordering what we tell you to. The technical name for these things is chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Whatever. We call them heaven. Avec is an all-purpose, all-occasion excuse to eat well, no matter who you're sharing with. Avec, 615 West Randolph Street (East of North Desplaines Street); 312-377-2002.
Sable: Here comes the power-share. Sable in River North is your new go-to for out of town entertaining of any sort. Clients, relatives, high school friends casually in town on business, you name it. Sable will impress from start to finish, especially if you start with the mini veggie burgers or scallops. Do not skip the cocktails. We repeat, do not skip the cocktails. Sable, 505 North State Street (at East Illinois Street); 312-755-9704.