The end of beach season and shortening days are a definite bummer, but the start of fall does have some particularly tasty advantages. For one, now that you've got a good excuse to ditch the sundresses and shorts in favor of some oh-so-concealing layers, you can indulge in all the fried food fun you avoided this summer. Satisfy those pent-up cravings by ordering these comforting fried dishes off six of the city's newest menus. When the temperatures really start to drop, you'll be thankful to have a little extra insulation.
Fried olive basket at The Drinkingbird
2201 N. Clybourn Ave. 773-472-9920
The retro Lincoln Park lounge uses its big green olives for more than just martinis. These red pepper-stuffed beauties are rolled in panko bread crumbs, deep-fried and served with blue cheese dipping sauce. Fifteen olives come to one appetizer order, so be prepared to share.
Fried green tomatoes at Carriage House
1700 W. Division St. 773-384-9700
The new Wicker Park restaurant from the team behind The Bedford gives you a medley of Southern flavors in this dish, which features two deep-fried pieces of half-inch thick cornmeal-crusted tomatoes served with hot sauce vinaigrette, pickled shrimp, tomato creme fraiche and creamed red peas.
Dragon egg at Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ
441 N. Clark St. 312-995-1900
The Asian-influenced River North spot from the team behind Rockit shows that eggs don't have to be fried in a skillet. This dish, a riff on a Scotch egg, stars a soft-poached duck egg wrapped in spicy sausage and then crusted with panko bread crumbs before a dip in the deep fryer. It's served atop greens tossed in Chinese mustard vinaigrette, so you can pretend it's at least a little healthy.
Fried pickles at Fatpour Tap Works
2005 W. Division St. 773-698-8940
This new Ukrainian Village sports bar thinly slices six pickle spears, then beer-batters and fries them until they’re slightly crispy. They’re served with a signature sauce—a blend of horseradish, spicy brown mustard, garlic, crushed red pepper and still more pickle.
Fried cheese curds at Maid-Rite
2429 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-687-9250
If you're craving a fast fix for fried food, the cooks at this Iowa-based diner's Lincoln Park location, the first in Chicago, can whip up an order of these battered white cheddar bites in three minutes. Enjoy them with a side of marinara or buttermilk-asiago sauce.
Fried cheese for grown-ups at Bar Toma
110 E. Pearson St. 312-266-3110
This Gold Coast pizzeria's playfully named take on a bar-food favorite, mozzarella sticks, starts with pepperoni that's ground into a sausage-like consistency. After being blended with Calabrian chilis and smoked garlic, it's sandwiched between two pieces of Wisconsin mozzarella, coated in bread crumbs and fried until it's crispy on the outside and melty inside. To avoid overwhelming the taste of the meat, you won't find any marinara sauce for dipping on this plate.
Samantha Nelson is a RedEye special contributor. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyechicago