Best place to dance samba

On the soccer field, Brazil and Argentina are fierce rivals but in Chicago the two countries have been teaming up to produce one of the most entertaining venues. Every Tuesday from 10pm, the Argentine bar Ñ—from the same folks who brought us Tango Sur and Folklore restaurants—is hosting Bossa Tres, a Brazilian group who knows how to throw a party. Led by the singer Dill Costa, the trio mixes classic bossa nova with vibrant Brazilian rhythms such as samba and pagode. Be prepared to join an energetic crowd that might drag you on the dance floor to teach you how to shake. You can then chill drinking mojitos, margaritas and pisco sours, or choosing typically Brazilian drinks like caipirinha and guarana. So enjoy the party, but do not start a soccer conversation.

Ñ, 2977 North Elston,  (773) 866-9898 ,,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best fish and chips

New England Seafood Company
The Mazza brothers, transplants from New England, serve up scads of flaky haddock blanketed in a crispy robe of fried batter along with golden shoestring-style spuds. Although for our money, while the fries are good, get some of the freshly shaved and fried potato chips. Though that might not be authentic, even English punters would be impressed.

New England Seafood Company, 3341 North Lincoln, (773)871-3474,

Audience choice: Duke of Perth, 2913 North Clark, (773)477-1741,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best Cubano

90 Miles Cuban Café
Unlike Miami, Chicago is no ninety-mile flight from Cuba, so we’re lucky the best Cubanos this side of the Sunshine State are still in Roscoe Village and Logan Square. And where else can you order a tableside pig roast (yes, snout-to-tail) for a party of ten? But for those craving a faster pork fix, stick with the Cubano. The sub-style sandwich is filled with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard. The sammie sounds standard enough, but there’s just something about the bread, which is made by Humboldt Park bakery Biondillo.

90 Miles Cuban Café, 2540 West Armitage, (773)227-2822; 3101 North Clybourn, (773)248-2822,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best all-you-can-eat sushi buffet

House of Sushi and Noodles
The best thing about getting uncomfortably full from sushi is that it can be done for under twenty bucks. For more than ten years, House of Sushi and Noodles, whose back dining room apexes the Belmont-Lincoln intersection, has remained a Lakeview and Roscoe Village fave with its various all-you-can-eat specials. In the evening you can order maki galore, as well as appetizers, from a buffet menu that offers around twenty different rolls and six (sometimes more) apps for $16.95. If nigiri is essential in quenching your desire for raw fish, the price of the buffet jumps up two dollars. But the real deal goes down at weekday lunch. All-you-can-eat for $14.95, or choose from one of a few box-lunch specials for $9.95. And since HOSAN is always busy, their fish is the freshest.

House of Sushi and Noodles, 1610 West Belmont, (773)935-9110,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best sports bar named after an Irish playwright who wrote in English as well as French


The beer and conversation flow, and Nebraska fans munch on gourmet burgers beneath wide-screen TVs. But this sports bar is unique, and not because it has 200 craft beers. Beckett’s is infused with, well, Samuel Beckett. A giant portrait of the Irish playwright glares from the wall. His silhouette decorates the dinner plates. A sketch of his face comprises the restaurant’s logo. And the dining area feels like a library with its wood paneling, captain’s chairs and shelves of books. Flip through one while you’re watching the Bears or waiting for Godot.

3210 North Lincoln

Best of Chicago 2011