Chicago's Mid-Range Restos Get National Audience

New York Times features five middle-ground Chicago restaurants

Chicago has two culinary personalities: cheap food like hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, and internationally-respected fine dining restaurants and chefs.

But it's the mid-range joints -- restaurants more formal than street food, but that won't make a serious dent in your paycheck -- that are creating the buzz these days.

The New York Times featured five Chicago restaurants as examples of a trend toward eateries that are "less formal and better suited to a city that needed less pomp and polish to go with good food."

And it's many of the chefs responsible for those fancy joints that are leading the revolution. Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Publican) is noted for his recently-opened Big Star Taqueria and Bar in Wicker Park with its $2 tacos and country music on the jukebox.

Rick Bayless's popular new River North venture, Xoco, gets props for another trailblazing take on Mexican food and a menu that tops out at $12.50

Kuma's Corner, with its heavy metal theme, long waits and huge burgers with 20 topping choices is called "something special."

MK's Michael Kornick gets love for his new DMK Burger Bar and housemade sodas.

And Great Lake, called the best pizza in the world by GQ earlier this year, gets another shot of positive press for its "knee-weakeningly good" pies -- despite the eternally-long waits.

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