Pumpkin Bucket List

It's in the latte. It's on your neighbor's stoop. It's scattered throughout the generic canned food aisle. Pumpkins are back and they are everywhere. Before you spin off into a dizzied pumpkin frenzy, you need a handy guide for how to navigate the pumpkin waters. Herewith, your pumpkin dining guide for fall 2014: 

(How FIG + OLIVE does fall ravioli)

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Floriole Cafe & Bakery: Pumpkin desserts and pastries reach a fever pitch at Floriole Cafe & Bakery in the form of pumpkin sticky buns, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin clafoutis. 

DMK Burger Bar: Pumpkin pie shakes are the shake of the month at DMK Burger Bar, made by mixing vanilla ice cream with fresh pumpkin puree, malt, milk, whipped cream, and sugared pumpkin seeds. 

Milk & Honey Cafe: You can eat and drink your morning away at Milk & Honey Cafe, where cream cheese-frosted pumpkin cake adjoins coconut-pumpkin lattes. 
Girl & the Goat: Dexterous chef Stephanie Izard continues to dazzle with novel takes on familiar seasonal ingredients. Her latest offbeat combo finds Tasmanian ocean trout cozied up to pumpkin brandade, fried Brussels sprouts, candied pecans, and pomegranate. Across the street, Little Goat has a little Halloween fun with its new Jack-O-Lantern shake with spiced pumpkin gelato, Kilgus half and half, whipped cream, and pepita caramel corn. 

Cactus Bar and Grill: It doesn't get much more autumnal than pumpkin cider, a beverage that seamlessly blends two of the most distinctive fall ingredients in one handy, heady brew. It's on hand at Cactus Bar and Grill, where Ace Pumpkin Cider is a seasonal sensation. It's made with fermented apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, carbonated and kegged, marking the first of its kind in the Midwest. 

North Pond: Pastry chef Greg Mosko further proves his impeccable creativity and finesse with one of his latest desserts. Taking on pumpkins for the new tasting menu dessert, he's whipping up pumpkin-spiced cheesecake mousse with maple-poached cranberries, maple cranberry pearls, candied pecans, pecan streusel, cranberry sorbet, stout ale cake, and fried sage. 

Chop Shop: Vanilla vodka, Frangelico, Bols yogurt, housemade pumpkin syrup, half and half, and pumpkin puree join forces to make for one seriously rich and decadent pumpkin libation at Chop Shop. It's all finished with a toasted marshmallow because why not. 

Tavern on Rush
(Pumpkin pancake time at Tavern on Rush)
PUBLIC Hotel's Library Coffee Bar: Rise and shine at the PUBLIC Hotel's Library Coffee Bar. Just follow the aromatic aroma of pumpkin muffins strewn with pepitas streusel. Or pumpkin and banana breakfast bread. Or fresh pumpkin spice lattes. 

FIG + OLIVE: Pumpkin-sage ravioli is a pasta combo as old as time iteself. Or something along those lines. The one-two punch is on the menu at FIG + OLIVE, and true to form the restaurant is upping the ante on traditional templates by incorporating chicken, ricotta, charmoula, and pumpkin olive oil into the mix. 

Tavern on Rush: Pumpkin pancakes are a requisite fall breakfast. Get your fix at Tavern on Rush, where the seasonal sensations are back on the menu through December. Executive chef John Gatsos makes his version by supplementing the classic flour-eggs-milk-sugar formula with pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cinnamon-brown sugar butter. 

312 Chicago: Pumpkin and chocolate are not frequent bedfellows, but when they do team up they work magic together. Case in point, the new budino di pane (bread pudding) at 312 Chicago. Courtesy of sous chef Luis Silva, the salacious new dessert features custard-soaked brioche bedecked with pumpkin, chocolate chips, burnt caramel gelato, and pumpkin seed brittle. 

312 Chicago
(Dessert is served at 312 Chicago)

State and Lake Chicago Tavern: It's pumpkin spice like you've never tasted before at State and Lake Chicago Tavern, where pastry chef Toni Roberts raises the bar with pumpkin spice ice cream and pumpkin cheesecake with honey wheat beignets, Valhrona dulcet whip, and salted pepita crunch. 

Eataly: Eataly runneth over with fresh pumpkin provisions. The produce department is brimming with local and organic varieties of pumpkins, while the bakery contains pumpkin cookies and the marketplace is stocked with Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.
25 Degrees: Another spot reinvigorating the pumpkin spice standard is 25 Degrees. Joining the milkshake lineup this season is their new pumpkin spice spiked shake, made with housemade pumpkin puree sauce, butterscotch caramel, vanilla ice cream, and spiced rum. 
Nacional 27: Pumpkin adopts a Spanish accent at Nacional 27. Here, an apt seasonal snack is their new pumpkin and goat cheese croquetas. 
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab: Finally, think outside the pie tin with a novel take on pumpkin pie at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. Executive chef Danny Espinoza makes his a pumpkin chiffon pie, featuring pumpkin mousse lined in a graham cracker crust with maple syrup, candied walnuts, and whipped cream. 

- Matt Kirouac