USA TODAY: Get Cozy At Chicago's Best Restaurants For Fall Dining and Drinking

Get Cozy at Chicago's Best Restaurants for Fall Dining and Drinking

BY JACKY RUNICE 
CHICAGO LOCAL EXPERT

It's time to reject charcoal lemonade and poké bowls and order anything soaked in smoky whiskey or sticky maple. Bring back the carbs in the most delicious way at Logan Square's Daisies, where Chef Joe Frillman manages to effortlessly combine dishes from his Polish/Russian/German heritage with his training in Italian food. You can't believe what this guy does with veg and he has a 2018 Jean Banchet Award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant in Chicago to prove it. Since you're replacing revealing clothes for sweaters and jeans, live it up and have that burger already. Find some of the city's favorites at Owen and Engine, a sanctuary of wood, leather and superb autumn victuals, or Maillard Tavern's titular burger with crispy onions, bacon and onion jam, cheddar, pickles, and Dijon mayo. If it's dumplings, duck and a familial feeling you crave, Bohemian House  and The Duck Inn are not to be missed. Speaking of family, take the lot of them to River Roast for entire roasts carved tableside like Prime Rib; Crystal Farms Applewood smoked whole chicken and whole fish. If a German Disneyesque experience lifts your spirits, Hofbrauhaus Chicago's Oktoberfest is your ticket to ride. Have a top notch steak in a refurbished barn in Evanston. And Shaw's Crab House considers it the best shucking time of the year as the seafood temple welcomes hungry oyster fans to it's 30th "Pearl" Annual Oyster Fest this October. 

10. MAILLARD TAVERN

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Thank the culinary gods that it's not all about cauliflower steaks and caviar service. Courtesy of Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo (Piccolo Sogno, Nonnina) Maillard Tavern satisfies the very necessary craving for comfort food. Among the eight custom burgers, all constructed of two 4 oz. local beef patties griddled and served on a toasted potato bun with a side of duck fat potato fries, is the Maillard burger with crispy onions, bacon and onion jam, cheddar, pickles, and dijon mayo. That should be the antidote for a bad boss, breakup or too much drink. The menu also includes specialty sandwiches (Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast and an Impossible Burger among the choices) soups and a fab roster of desserts from milk shakes (also served spiked!), ice cream sundaes, banana splits and donuts. Chili gets a ton of flavor from stewed pork and beef, beans, peppers, sour cream, onions an cheddar.

9. THE BARN STEAKHOUSE

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If going back to school in fall is behind you - you can still go "old school" in terms of a night out. Take the train or an autumn drive to Evanston's leafy streets and soak up the season at the rustic Barn Steakhouse housed in a former stable, circa 1883. Tucked away down an alley, the Barn offers a menu listing 100% Midwestern Heritage Angus Beef. Start with an old-timey martini, Daiquiri or a "Barn Julep; consider the starters (crab cake? caviar sandwich?); and choose your steak or entree. Non steak choice include roasted Branzino and crab spaghetti plus nightly specials tempt from lasagna or roast duck to smoked bbq ribs or a Heritage sirloin burger - all at easier price points. Riffs on steakhouse sides include creamed Swiss chard. Because of Coravin service, enjoy a glass of nearly any wine on the deep list.

Elizabeth Bowers