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Get a Taste of Real Pumpkin Spice

By Matt Kirouac |

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                            Bar Siena

Bar Siena

As fall settles in and pumpkins roll onto menus, here are some restaurants, bars, and cafes serving up legit takes on pumpkin spice that go well beyond the standard pies and syrups.

Pumpkin spice gets extra spicy at RPM Steak, where chef Doug Psaltis is serving up Sichuan pepper roasted pumpkin as a side dish. It’s made by coating a large wedge of cheese pumpkin in Sichuan peppercorns and roasting it in whole butter.

Get pumpkin delivered right to your door with Radish, the new gourmet food delivery service that brings a restaurant-quality experience into the home in a matter of minutes. One of the new options available through the app is a gluten-free pumpkin gnocchi served with sage, cranberries, and spiced walnuts.

Pumpkin gets both savory and sweet at MANA food bar. Fitting for fall, chef Jill Barron has accented her menu with a pumpkin ravioli dish served with grilled radicchio, garlic, walnuts, and Asiago cheese, along with pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, served atop an apple spice cake crust with toffee and caramel.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! thinks outside the pie shell for its latest seasonal dessert, a pumpkin empanada with spiked “43” sauce.  

Another crafty dessert for fall can be found at Bar Siena, where pumpkins lend their luster to a new Italian doughnut. The pumpkin bomboloni is a fist-sized portion of sweet fried dough filled to the brim with creamy pumpkin custard.

Pumpkin seeds get their turn in the spotlight at Hewn Bakery in Evanston. Here you’ll find pumpkin seed polenta bread laden with fresh herbs. The polenta hails from local Hazzard Free Farm, flecked with crunch from the generous sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin comes in both edible and potable forms at Katherine Anne Confections. To start, the pumpkin truffle is a milk and semisweet chocolate creation infused with roasted pumpkin, apricot, rum and maple syrup, flecked with a toasted pepita garnish. Then there’s the rich pumpkin drinking chocolate, a bi-colored cocoa made with roasted pumpkin, bittersweet and white chocolates, ginger, cayenne, maple, and brown sugar.

In terms of pumpkin lattes, a handful of cafes and coffee experts are doling out expert renditions of the fall staple. Beatrix has a pumpkin cream Nitro coffee made with housemade pumpkin and vanilla whipped cream, cinnamon, and Sugar in the Raw. Each year, Ipsento serves one of the better versions of pumpkin spice lattes, the big difference being that they use a syrup featuring real roasted pumpkins. Then there’s C.C. Ferns, which is currently featuring a pumpkin caramel latte made with housemade pumpkin spice syrup, a shot of espresso, milk, and a dusting of cinnamon.

Lattes aren’t the only drinkable form of pumpkin spice this season, either. Try the pumpkin spice martini at Fuller House in Hinsdale, a heady medley of Absolut Vanilla Vodka, pumpkin liqueur, Baileys Irish Cream, and a dash of nutmeg.

RPM Steak
66 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago
(312) 284-4990


MANA food bar
1742 W. Division Street, Chicago
(773) 342-1742

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!
2024 N. Halsted Street, Chicago
(773) 935-5000

Bar Siena
832 W. Randolph Street, Chicago
(312) 492-7775

810 Dempster Street, Evanston
(847) 869-4396

Katherine Anne Confections
2745 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago
(773) 245-1630

519 N. Clark Street, Chicago
(312) 284-1377

2035 N. Western Avenue, Chicago
(773) 904-8177

C.C. Ferns
2806 W. Augusta Boulevard, Chicago
(773) 384-2547

Fuller House
33 E 1st Street, Hinsdale
(630) 537-1653

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