The Sepia crew goes global with its eagerly awaited next-door spin-off
We don’t need a crystal ball to tell us that summer is going to be a great season for new restaurants in Chicago. Between a new museum restaurant from one of the city's most respected chefs and a hip New York City export in Fulton Market, here’s what’s getting us excited for the months to come.
Part hip barbershop, part restaurant and part speakeasy, New York City’s famed Blind Barber is en route to Fulton Market this summer. By day, it’s a slick space to get a trim and a snack. By night, it becomes an alluring bar with potent cocktails and dinner plates. Chicagoans can expect a food menu of contemporary grilled cheese sandwiches, plus dips, snacks and unique tacos. Cocktails will skew both seasonal and classic.
948 W. Fulton Market; summer
The hitmakers behind spots like Black Bull, Fulton Market Kitchen and Celeste have set their sights on West Town for what looks to be a boozy and fun addition to the neighborhood. The space is massive, and while not much is currently known about the food, drinkers will be in good hands with Liz Pearce as beverage director. She currently oversees cocktails at The Drifter, and she’s been promoted to beverage director for the whole restaurant/bar group.
1604 W. Chicago Ave.; summer
Fulton Market is about to get even boozier with the addition of New York City's Blind Barber; photo courtesy of Blind Barber
One of the most revered restaurants in the West Loop, Sepia is finally expanding next door with its hotly anticipated casual venture, Proxi. With a name that comes from the Latin word “proximus,” the restaurant draws inspiration from global street food to add depth to its American brasserie roots. The space is mesmerizing, with soaring ceilings and an open kitchen showcasing chef Andrew Zimmerman’s talents.
565 W. Randolph St.; June
Regional Southern food is nothing novel in Chicago, but a restaurant specifically focused on the Mississippi Delta region is something special. The Delta in Wicker Park will pay homage to cuisine from Memphis to "Catfish Row" in Vicksburg, Mississippi. A menu highlight will be "red hot" tamales cooked in spicy broth and made from cornmeal instead of masa. Other dishes will incorporate the region's melting pot heritage of African-American, Mexican, Chinese and Italian flavors, along with cocktails, beer, wine and bourbon.
1745 W. North Ave.; June
Left to right: The Delta's beverage director/partner Adam Kamin, executive chef/partner Adam Wendt and owner Eldridge Williams
A bit of classic Hollywood glamour is heading to the West Loop this spring, courtesy of BLVD. Drawing inspiration from the restaurants and lounges along Sunset Boulevard in the 1950s, the restaurant harkens to the Golden Age with art deco design elements and an air of luxury. The food will be contemporary American with an emphasis on shareable plates, courtesy of esteemed chef Ross Mendoza.
817 W. Lake St.; early summer
Los Angeles' loss is Chicago's gain. When Stephen Gillanders initially came to town, the plan was to serve as chef-in-residence at Intro for a few months, then move back to LA to open his own restaurant. Months turned into years as Gillanders became Intro's first executive chef. Now he's decamping to open his own spot in Pilsen. Named S.K.Y. after his wife's initials, the eclectic, internationally inspired project is the restaurant he originally intended to open in California.
1239 W. 18th St.; July
One of LA's hottest sushi spots is en route to Chicago, with a Katana outpost taking shape in River North. If it's anything like its predecessor, expect pristine sushi and steaks in a sexy atmosphere. The cocktails and general bar scene should be hot too.
339 N. Dearborn St.; summer
Visual and culinary art collide at the Museum of Contemporary Art this summer in a restaurant named after artist Marisol Escobar; photo courtesy of Marisol
One of Chicago's most acclaimed chefs is partnering with one of the city's great institutions. Come summer, food and art lovers alike will get to experience a new restaurant from Lula Cafe's Jason Hammel at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is undergoing a $16 million renovation. Named for Marisol Escobar (pictured), a sculptor who gave the museum its first work of art, the restaurant will serve seasonally focused lunch, brunch and dinner, and also include a casual coffee counter. Considering Hammel's track record as a farm-to-table pioneer, this bodes well.
205 E. Pearson St.; summer
The city's biggest restaurant group is taking over the Embeya space for what is sure to be one of the year's hottest openings. The Bellemore is Boka Restaurant Group’s dive into New American cuisine with chef Jimmy Papadopoulos of Bohemian House. Chicagoans hungrily clamoring for news on the chef’s next move should be pleased with this development.
564 W. Randolph St.; summer
Giant Restaurant at the Ace Hotel
After dazzling diners with their Logan Square hit, Giant, Jason Vincent and Benjamin Lustbader have signed on to run the restaurant (name TBD) at the new Ace Hotel. Slated for a September 1 opening, the Fulton Market hotel will feature contemporary American cuisine that skews casual. Brunch will be served daily, with a sandwich-focused lunch menu and dinner service. Giant's beverage director, Josh Perlman, is helping to curate the cocktail, wine and beer lists.
311 N. Morgan St.; September