By Stephen Ostrowski | April 15, 2016 | Food & Drink
The first rule of hidden menu items: You do not talk about hidden menu items. The exception: Flexing your culinary IQ to order one of these 11 sleight-of-chef creations.
Drive-through fries they aren’t: laced with Monterey Jack, green onions, chili, and cheddar queso, the tavern’s skins are an appetizing aberration of their on-menu nachos. $11.95; 130 S. Green St., 312-226-6565
The lauded hamburger gets an a.m. interpretation, swapping buns for English muffins as a carby comforter to bacon, American cheese, two (two!) patties, and other slider staples. Put an egg on it for $3.95. $16.95; 100 W. Monroe St., 312-754-6560
Ball on a budget you cannot for the shrouded sushi, which fuses black truffle, Japanese wagyu, wasabi crème, and other palette pleasers for a $75 roll. 110 W. Illinois St., 312-644-0500
Chef Carrie Nahabedian’s saccharine secret gets all the sweeter when the vanilla bean, chocolate, fruit, and caramel dipping sauces are brought into the fold. $15; 500 N. Clark St., 312-321-6242
The burger chain usurps Silicon Valley’s innovation mantle with their low-key, $2.25 fee to encase any sandwich with a pair of grilled cheeses. Urge to type in all caps resisted. Multiple locations.
Ketchup gets benched for kimchi as the preferred pomme frites frill at the University Village hamburger hub. $3.19; 1120 W. Taylor St., 312-226-7760
The proverbial ‘secret sauce’ is just that (literally) at the Lakeview seafood space. Nicknamed “The MJ,” the trachea-torching dressing is a cryptic medley of ghost peppers and Thai chili. Tell it only to your best friends—or enemies. 3343 N. Clark St. 773-996-9997
Realign your hot dog paradigm at the barbecue’s Wrigleyville outpost, where two ground brisket franks co-mingle with house-made pickles, apple coleslaw, and dressing on a New England-style bun. $6.50; 962 W. Belmont Ave., 312-487-4807
The subterranean Wicker Park lounge ups the inconspicuous ante with a covert concoction of orange bitters and pickled beet juice bound by Bulleit rye. $11; 1612 W. Division St., 773-235-8800
‘Benedict’ historically conjures up thoughts of betrayal and deceit, but the surf spot’s more than earned our trust with their weekend-only, backdoor brunch bite. $17.95; 60 E. Grand Ave., 312-379-5637
Admittedly, the actual dish is a mystery here. What we do know: Register for the North Center eatery’s newsletter to receive Tuesday’s secret word. Relay the password to your server to unlock the mystery plates, which are complemented by six-$6 cocktails—turning happy hour into the happiest hour. 4000 N. Southport Ave., 773-857-2890
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY VICTORIA KENT PR (GREEN STREET LOCAL, LOWCOUNTRY); COURTESY CLOUISE PR (COCHON VOLANT, BLACKWOOD BBQ); COURTESY ROCKIT RANCH PRODUCTIONS (SUNDA); COURTESY RYAN BESHEL/SIX4 CREATIVE (SOUTHPORT & IRVING, NAHA); COURTESY LETTUCE ENTERTAIN YOU (M BURGER, JOE’S); COURTESY MARGIE KORSHAK, INC. (BUSY BURGER); COURTESY SKIRT PR (THE BEDFORD)