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205 W. Capitol Ave.
Steamed, pan-seared, or deep-fried, the humble dumpling can be addictive, and these tiny morsels of finely ground pork nestled in a crisp wrapper are some of the best. For a place that specializes in sushi, Igibon's non-sushi menu is spectacular, although nothing compares to these little dumplings served screamingly hot from the fryer with a simple soy and rice vinegar sauce.
11121 N. Rodney Parham Road.
Sweep the Floor pizza
There's a simple reason Iriana's Pizza is a local fave: great ingredients, artfully prepared. Their flagship pie is the Sweep the Floor, a beautiful, cheesy ballad of thin-sliced onions, peppers, black olives, meats and other veggies on a perfect, chewy foundation. Pro tip: get them to slice your wedges generously so you can fold 'em, lest the burden of goodies results in the dreaded Pizza Droop.
201 E. Markham St.
Spit-roasted lamb doesn't normally make appearances within crispy pockets of bread seasoned with Italian herbs and filled with gobs of mozzarella cheese, but it certainly feels at home there. Douse with tangy tatziki, bright with lemon and dill, and it's a big fat Greek-Italian flavor wedding you'll definitely want to be invited to.
Multiple locations, including 9501 N. Rodney Parham Road.
Ice cream sandwich
Looking like the happy offspring of a traditional ice cream sandwich and a hot fudge sundae, the Loblolly open-faced brownie sandwich is the sort of thing that can be enjoyed with a fork and knife or eaten on the go. A thick layer of gluten-free brownie is topped by a heavy layer of the small-batch creamery's handmade ice cream, then finished with a swirl of chocolate and just a few pecans. Worth a trip to South Main by itself, these ice cream sammies go well with an old-fashioned soda from the Green Corner Store soda fountain.
Available at The Green Corner Store Soda Fountain, 1423 Main St.
The Coastal Salad with salmon
As they've done at Big Orange and ZaZa, John Beachboard and Scott McGehee (along with chef/partner Ben Brainard) put as much care into the salads at Local Lime as they do their entrees. The Coastal might be Beachboard and McGehee's best yet. It's a Romaine and spring mix base; topped by grapefruit, orange, cilantro, avocado slices and onion slivers, and drizzled with citrus vinaigrette. If we could eat it every day — particularly topped with Local Lime's salmon filet, marinated in orange and achiote — we'd hop aboard the carb-free, caveman-diet bandwagon.
7815 Chenal Parkway (at the Promenade at Chenal).
Lynn's Chicago Foods
Italian beef sandwich
The hoagie comes dipped in beef juices, the dense Italian bread sopping up just enough broth to amplify flavors without leaving a gloppy, soggy mess. It gets a small helping of giardiniera — a spicy, pickled blend of bell peppers, jalapeño, cauliflower, and celery. Resist all urges to dip your whole head in broth.
6501 Geyer Springs Road.
Braised Arkansas rabbit & dumplings
Ordinary "chicken and dumplings" feels pedestrian when stacked up against this stew, rich with cream and smoked cheddar and hopping with braised Arkansas rabbit. Tender flour dumplings also come along for a swim. The rabbit is just faintly gamey, but fork tender — so delicious, you'll never look at Bugs Bunny the same way again.
1615 Rebsamen Park Road.
Bite into a MaryClare macaron and the delicate outer shell and cookie almost deflates in your mouth, giving up its last dying breath for your consumptive pleasure. Fragrant, floral flavors from the smooth, creamy filling tantalize the taste buds — and now, polishing off a half dozen is not only feasible, but a moral obligation.
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