Getting pumpkined out? Then sink your teeth into some crispy, juicy apples, the other bountiful crop of the season.
The culinary possibilities for this versatile fruit range from traditional ciders and pies to apple butter on burgers. Here’s what chefs around town are doing with bushels of America’s favorite fruit.
With 10 bruschetta flavors to choose from at this River North wine bar, it can be hard to pick just one, but the Brie topped with sliced Gala apples is one of our favorites. The crisp apples contrast with creamy Brie and a touch of fig spread, while green grapes and lavender honey help balance the strong cheese with sweetness. Pair this with a fruit-forward Sonoma Zinfandel to bring out the contrasting flavors. 450 N. Clark St., 312-477-7674
The caramelized apple tart here features a variety of thinly sliced apples from Michigan’s Todd Greiner Farms and Wisconsin’s Harmony Valley Farm, all nestled in the perfectly flaky pastry crust and topped with vanilla ice cream. This is one of only two dishes on the menu at the healthful Mediterranean restaurant that uses butter instead of olive oil. It’s well worth the indulgence. 104 E. Oak St., 312-445-0060
There’s a lot of bacon fat at TWO, so chef de cuisine Kevin Cudihee decided it would be perfect for a smoky and salty pie crust. He then fills the pie with Honeycrisp apples tossed in bourbon caramel and tops it all off with housemade cinnamon ice cream. 1132 W. Grand Ave., 312-624-8363
This popular Lincoln Park brunch spot is known for its housemade pop tarts. For fall, an apple pop tart hits the menu, made with Red Delicious apples and brown sugar spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. 553 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-234-2320
The Hearty Boys pick apples from their Michigan orchard to make a thyme apple butter for their spiced pork burger. A mix of Jonathans, Golden Delicious, Jonalicious and Crispins apples are slowly cooked with fresh thyme, vinegar, apple cider and salt, and then rood through a food mill for a thick and super concentrated consistency to contrast with crispy onion strings. 3819 N. Broadway St.,773-868-9866
Tart Granny Smith apples contrast with a syrupy maple-glazed spiced cake in this fall dessert, which is tied together with caramel ice cream and a crunchy staccato of salted peanuts. Pastry chef Mitsu Nozaki created this dessert as a sophisticated reminder of her childhood favorite, caramel apples. 24 S. Michigan Ave., 312-372-4243
Caramel-dipped baby Gala, Fuji, Macintosh and Braeburn apples are rolled with sea salt and crushed housemade toffee. These petite apples are much easier to eat than your typical oversized caramel apple. 151 W. Adams St., 312-660-8200
In the Viennese tradition, apfelstrudel here is a delicacy. Hand-stretched dough is brushed with butter and filled with apples, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. After baking, the exterior is crisp and flaky and inside is sweet, gooey apple goodness. 1000 Davis St., Evanston, 847-328-9434
Chicago’s favorite pie shop has opened up in Evanston. The classic double crust on this apple pie is not too sweet and the Granny Smith, Mutsu, Empire and Northern Spy apples retain a nice crunch, nestled in a substantial buttery crust. 749 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-868-8863; 1618 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-243-4846
Apples get a starring role in green juice from the North Shore’s new healthy meal delivery service. Equal parts of Red Delicious and Granny Smith apple juice add sweetness to a blend of spinach, kale, celery, cucumber and ginger. 107 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-907-1601
Apple and blue cheese are a classic pairing and balance the bitter greens in this harvest salad, which includes Brussels sprouts, red leaf, fennel and mint. Chef Eloin Amador uses Honeycrisp apples, shaved thin, because they are a little more acidic than Gala to create more of a pop with the apple cider vinaigrette dressing. 1143 1/2 Church St., Northbrook, 847-714-0200
One of the most innovative salads on the North Shore starts with apple, kale, celery and parsley, with fried quinoa adding a crunch and chickpeas and tahini vinaigrette giving the medley a smooth creaminess. 493 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 847-780-4862
Suckling pig is paired with apple three ways—in an onion purée, as a salad and to make apple cider gastrique. Chef Bradford Phillips says he loves showcasing one ingredient in multiple ways with in a dish “to reinforce the depth of flavor.” In this case, Mutsu apples are the star. Phillips says the crisp and tart variety have more flavor than ordinary Granny Smith. 694 Vernon Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-8100