When temperatures drop, take refuge in hearty comfort foods that warm you from the inside out. From an updated take on classic mac n’ cheese to Italian-inspired banana bread pudding, we found seven comforting staples that’ll do the trick.
Nothing says comfort like a gooey grilled cheese. This Wicker Park destination (with a second location in Evanston) serves up a three-cheese version of the childhood staple with Irish cheddar, raclette, taleggio, and—wait for it—black truffle. It arrives with a cast-iron kettle of roasted tomato soup for dipping. 1670 W. Division, 773-252-6499; 810 Grove St., Evanston, 847-905-0854
Chef David DiGregorio gives classic banana pudding the Italian treatment by adding a scoop of house-made vanilla gelato to warm, cinnamon-spiced bread pudding with caramelized bananas. 620 N. State St., 312-642-8450
Carbs are king at this River North foodie favorite, where you can never go wrong with classic spaghetti and a single (huge!) meatball in pomodoro sauce with basil. Just be sure to order the truffled garlic bread for dipping. 52 W. Illinois St., 312-.222-1888
Flex your creative muscles at Asian-fusion spot Sunda, where during lunch hours you can personalize a steaming-hot bowl of miso ramen by adding loads of veggies and not-so-ordinary toppings like bison ribs, tiger shrimp, bone marrow, oxtail, and sea bass. 110 W Illinois St., 312-644-0500
Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside—this no-frills Logan Square joint’s spicy fried chicken hits the spot. A plate gets you two pieces served with white bread and pickles. 2952 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-3333
No one does comfort food quite like the South, and chef Charlie McKenna has it down to a science. The Bucktown barbecue joint’s creamy chicken n’ dumplings dish is packed with smoked chicken, buttermilk dumplings, peas, carrots, and celery—all in a savory chicken gravy. Pair it with a root beer float for a quintessential Southern comfort experience. 1856 W. North Ave., 773-772-5500
The ultimate comfort food is turned on its head at GT Fish & Oyster, where the mac ‘n cheese comprises a cheesy orecchhiette pasta studded with hearty bites of lobster and English peas. 531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501