Though outside the streets may be full of rain and slush, inside Pasteur, it's always sunny and tropical. Pure white walls carry the natural light from the front windows all the way to the back of the space, and woven chairs and soaring greenery lend a shore-side air to the space without relying on tables sprinkled with sea salt. What began in 1985 as a restaurant serving one simple dish—Vietnamese pho—has blossomed into a bustling, upscale eatery serving cuisine from all regions of Vietnam. Flavors of lemongrass, coconut, and garlic underpin a menu highlighted by seafood dishes: monkfish in a curry tumeric sauce, salmon baked in a clay pot, and whole fried snapper.
Café Amano summons patrons to its elegant, warmly lit interior with the savory aromas of gourmet small plates, salads, pastas, entrees, and more. Warm up over a plate of warming gnocchi di pesto, potato dumplings chaperoned by apple-and-gouda chicken sausage ($17), or sink your teeth into an elegant entree such as the oven-roasted rack of Australian lamb chops, enrobed in a shiitake mushroom port wine reduction ($29). A menu of decadent handmade desserts sports sweeties such as the chocolate l’orange torte, infused with Grand Marnier and tipsily donning a lampshade-style hat of chocolate ganache ($9). Relax in the cream and black accented dining room with a correspondingly hued Intelligentsia café au lait ($3), or sip on an imported dessert selection from the wine list such as the French Pineau des Charentes ($7 per glass). View the full menu here.
Eager to dispel the misconception that the French only excel in fine dining, as they told Crain's Chicago Business, restaurateurs Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser opened Brasserie by LM to show how France does everyday dining. The magazine lauds Brasserie's “case of simplicity done well,” showcased by dishes such as duck confit with “beautifully browned skin," traditional onion soup, and brick chicken, perfect for building an edible dream house. For early risers (the restaurant opens at 6 a.m.), the culinary team crafts French-style breakfasts with French toast topped by caramelized bananas and crepes filled with gruyere, ham, and béchamel.
To complement those bites, barkeeps pour imported and domestic wines and stir up specialty cocktails and premium coffee drinks. Feasts unfold in a space that’s the essence of South Loop sleekness, where a large chalkboard menu towers over a spacious lounge filled with bamboo-topped tables, wine bottles peeking from floating wooden shelves, and cheery orange seats.
Dubbed one of the best crêpe purveyors in Chicago by Chicago magazine in 2010, La France Café & Crepes welcomes diners with a mellifluous menu of French flatcakes that sets tongues to tapping and moustaches to twirling. Chef Ben Mchabcheband and his culinary crew carefully construct each crêpe fresh to order, filling its belly with sweet or savory selections. To help you recall sweet dreams, choose warm apricots smothered in melted brie atop a sweet vanilla crêpe ($8.95) or nestle apples with cinnamon and caramel within a sweet crêpe blanket ($8.95). Crêpe forestiers envelope chicken or beef, wild mushrooms, and gruyere cheese to deliver a savory meal and epistles from the front lines of the kitchen ($12.95), while open-faced galettes expose the stomach-invading strategies of empire-driven eggs and various members of their hunger-trouncing team, such as ham, fresh tomatoes, and braised spinach ($11.95).
Flip Crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.