Eight Great Dumplings in Chicago

With Polish, Ethiopian, and East Asian enclaves all over the city—and, if you look hard enough, a Jewish deli or two—Chicagoans have no problem when it comes to getting stuffed on stuffed dough.

1. Lamb and brandy dumplings at Urban Belly

This is what happens when a haute-cuisine chef (Bill Kim) switches gears and starts cooking for the masses: crisp, pan-fried dumplings stuffed with garlic-kissed ground lamb and brandy-soaked black beans. 3053 N. California Ave. (773-583-0500; urbanbellychicago.com)

2. Meat pierogis at Smak Tak

Chicago has the biggest Polish population outside of Warsaw, so no other American city can match our pierogis. At Smak Tak, the pockets of rich beef are encased in a thick dough and served with nothing but drawn butter and sour cream. 5961 N. Elston Ave. (773-763-1123; smaktak.com)

3. Kreplach at The Bagel

If you only order a bagel at The Bagel you’re thinking too literally—and missing out on this deli’s true specialty: these robust, beef-filled dumplings (which, for the record, wouldn’t be half as good if it weren’t for the golden, schmaltzy chicken broth they swim in). 3107 N. Broadway (773-477-0300; bagelrestaurant.com)

4. Spaetzle at Julius Meinl

This coffee house is an American extension of the Vienna coffee roasting company. And if you think they do their coffee right (as a rule, the smooth brews arrive on a shiny silver tray), wait until you try their buttery spaetzle with braised lamb. 4363 N. Lincoln Ave. (773-868-1876; meinl.com)

5. Thai curry chicken bao at Wow Bao

Like the good restaurateur he is, Rich Melman saw gold in these soft, spicy buns. Now he has multiple locations around the city hawking them, and he can hardly keep up with the demand. These buns are quickly prepared and portable—fast food without that after-meal remorse. (wowbao.com)

6. Shrimp dumplings at Hon Kee

As one of only two Chinese restaurants on a long strip of Vietnamese ones, Hon Kee isn’t the kind of place people coming to this neighborhood are looking for. That is, unless they’re looking for impeccably fresh shrimp encased in translucent dumpling skins. 1064 W. Argyle St, (773-878-6650)

7. Koldunai at Healthy Food

Hearty is the word that comes to mind when thinking about this Lithuanian joint’s beef-stuffed, bacon-topped dumplings. Indulgent works, too. Healthy? Not so much. 3236 S. Halsted St. (312-326-2724; healthyfoodlithuanian-chicago.com)

8. Sambusa at Ras Dashen

Ethiopian food is all about sharing, but these starters don’t follow the rules. The deep-fried, spinach-filled triangles—crisp, chewy, and addictive—inspire selfish hoarding, not sharing. So order at least two rounds. 5846 N. Broadway (773-506-9601; rasdashenchicago.com)

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