Mama DePandi’s Bucatini
RPM Italian, Chicago
The pasta is made in-house at RPM Italian and it comes with a simple marinara sauce. The portion is meant for sharing, but it’s pretty small and pairs really well with the proteins. I like to order it with the veal chop, which is excellent-quality meat and comes nicely charred.
Bone-in Kansas City Strip Steak
Steak 48, Chicago
It’s rare for a restaurant to come into a steakhouse city like Chicago and become a favorite. But Steak 48 does two things to this steak that make it special: The kitchen uses a proprietary seasoning that almost caramelizes as the meat cooks, and the product is delivered on a 500-degree F plate, so I can order it rare and it continues to cook as it comes to the table.
Barbacoa Chilaquiles Skillet
Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe, Chicago
The best pancakes ever—and they’re served with every entree. I usually get this skillet, which features beef barbacoa, eggs your way, avocado, Chihuahua cheese, scallions, cilantro, salsa and sour cream over tortilla chips. The value proposition is amazing ($15).