Coconate's hot dog cart, coconates.com: I can't see much for the Chicago purist to object to: The relish is nuclear, the mustard yellow, the ketchup absent, the bun poppy-seeded, the wurst itself a plump Vienna model, and not overboiled. The best parts of the Chicago style here are Coconate's fresh tomato wedges and the great, oversized dill pickle spear. This spear, friends, is larger than the hot dog itself.
- Linda Falkenstein
Ha Long Bay, 1353 Williamson St.: In Vietnamese cuisine, a tureen of quality pho is the critical benchmark. Here, Ha Long Bay really makes good. Thinly shaved beef is perched atop a tower of noodles in an intoxicating broth of white and green onions. Freshly cut limes, jalapeños and raw bean sprouts are provided on the side to accent your soup to taste; a squeeze of lime is transformative.
- Adam Powell
Have a drink, help a marten
Pine Marten Red Ale from the Great Dane-Hilldale: A great hoppy beer with a lot of body and malty complexity. I like the beer's caramel-malty and raisin flavors at the beginning that really compete for your palate before the piney hoppiness ultimately takes over. This brew is not tame. It's one that lovers of hoppy and bitter beers should find intriguing.
- Robin Shepard