As Wisconsin's Southern neighbor, it's no surprise that Illinois takes its cheese consumption seriously, and that Chicago (as the state's culinary epicenter) teems with both restaurants that pack as much of the celebrated dairy product as possible into their menus, and hungry aficionados ready to taste it in its myriad forms. To celebrate Chicago's relentless commitment to all things cheesy, we're rounding up five epic cheese-centric dishes worth trying right now.
Though executive chef James Lintelmann is best known for his sophisticated and artfully plated eats, his exceptional take on an American staple might just be the unsung hero of his newly revamped menu. His secret? Melty Wisconsin cheese curds, which are smartly baked into elbow noodles coated in a smoked cheese, American cheese, and pimento cheese sauce concoction. Chili sauce and panko bread crumbs lend a kick of heat and crunchy texture to the heart-stopping skillet, respectively. 101 E. Erie St., 312-667-6793
Fresh burrata is easy to come by in this city, and while our love for it is undeniable, sometimes, we're just looking for something just a little different. Enter: AMK's fried-to-perfection burrata appetizer, which features four chunks of burrata encapsulated in a light and flaky golden batter nestled atop arugula pesto and finished with chili oil and lemon, which offers just enough acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese. 1954 W. Armitage Ave., 773-276-4400
Take what you know about garlic bread and strike it—this ultra-indulgent iteration is soaked in garlic and butter, and finished with Wisconsin Roth Kase cheese fondue that's poured tableside (and makes for an Instagram-worthy action shot). Team it with a steak laden in boiled truffle tremor cheese for an appropriately decadent meal. 505 N. Michigan Ave., 312-321-8823
"Cheese pull" is practically a food porn prerequisite these days, and this foodie-friendly sports tavern is right on trend with its jumbo seasoned and panko-encrusted mozzarella sticks. Each stick will deliver a cheese pull that forces your arms out to nearly full wingspan, and is best enjoyed with a liberal dunk in the accompanying house-made marinara. 130 S. Green St., 312-226-6565
Comforting Italian-American food is the name of the game at this casual, light-strewn spot in River North, and its crave-worthy lasagna is no exception. The hulking creation is comprised of seven layers of noodles, hearty Bolognese sauce, creamy bechamel, and fontina, and is crowned with a final layer of Bolognese and Angelo & Franco burrata right before it's baked for a supreme level of cheesiness. 59 W. Hubbard St., 312-595-0800