You can’t stay on top of the Chicago dining scene without knowing what’s new — which is why we offer this indispensable list of the most notable restaurant openings around town. We’ll update the guide every week, keeping the latest openings at the top of the page.
These funky, low-key and affordable Hawaiian outposts specialize in customizable, raw tuna- and salmon-based bowls (rice or salad) with Asian-influenced toppings and sauces served over the counter.
A revised take on the original Pleasant House Bakery, this Pilsen pub serves British royal pies (a specialty of its predecessor, the farm-to-table eatery Nightwood), plus sandwiches, sweet treats, daily specials, a Friday fish fry and coffee drinks. The quaint tavern setting includes a full bar highlighting local craft beers and a secluded patio.
NewNew AmericanThe Loop
The high-style Gray Hotel set in a Loop landmark hosts this handsome New American dining option where the likes of smoked sweetbreads and whole-roasted duck pair off with rare brown spirits in luxe environs with parquet floors and tray ceilings, marble tables and antique light fixtures, chef’s tables and a dedicated charcuterie room.
"Make sure to wear a bib" at these "casual" Cajun seafood shacks where diners dismantle "spicy", "out-of-this-world" shellfish "served in bags" "right on the table" along with sliders and other comfort foods in wharf-inspired surrounds; "crazy long waits" (it’s no reservations) are deemed "worth it" given the "messy", "affordable" "fun" – and it’s "BYOB to boot."
Inspired by Macau, this intimate, reservations-only cocktail bar from the Fat Rice team is adjacent to their original Logan Square eatery. Pricey, large-format cocktails are served alongside classic drinks, house creations and a reserve wine list amid glowing red lighting, vintage Chinese furnishings and pin-up art.
Putting out Portuguese and Pan-Asian plates paired with exotic cocktails in a nighttime iteration of the Bakery at Fat Rice, this Logan Square haunt occupies the same funky, counter-serve space decorated with birdcage light fixtures and communal seating.
"Light years ahead of places that sling refried beans", these counter-service "hot spots" craft "boss tacos" with "delicious", "inventive" fillings, alongside "some mean appetizers and salads"; seating "is fairly limited" in the "eclectic" digs, but if you have to "get in line", grab a "fantastic seasonal margarita" "and enjoy!" P.S. The Bridgeport location features a walk-up window and seasonal patio.
Jason Vincent (ex Nightwood) is behind this hip, diminutive Logan Square spot serving seasonal New American fare plus craft cocktails in a funky, modern setting with banquette seating and a kitchen counter, inlaid woodwork and whitewashed brick, local art and a wall of spices.
Art Smith revised his former Table 52 into a sibling of Blue Door Farm Stand in Lincoln Park offering a seasonal American menu of small and sharing plates and new bar pouring cocktails made from local farm ingredients. The elegant, intimate Gold Coast setting in a one-time carriage house features blue walls, classic tin ceiling, tufted chairs and marble tables, eclectic paintings and a patio.
Shareable Mediterranean plates and house-baked breads highlight the vegetable-centric menu at this spacious River North locale from Top Chef winner and Intro alum C.J. Jacobson. Walls of windows and greenery growing from the ceiling bring the outdoors into the casual-chic space, which also encompasses raw wood tables, a full bar featuring Mediterranean wines and a rotisserie takeout area.
From Tony Priolo (of the shuttered Piccolo Sogno Due) comes this welcoming River North spot serving traditional, grandmother-style Italian cooking for dinner and weekday lunch. The upscale space has traditional decor, a takeout counter, and a full bar offering drinks, pizza and other bar snacks.
NewMiddle EasternWicker Park
Affordable Middle Eastern-Mediterranean fare is what it's about at this casual Wicker Park storefront specializing in falafel, shawarma, hummus and other classic eats (including many gluten-free options) in a low-key, counter-serve space.
Traditional American cooking (think burgers, salads and broiled entrees) are paired with small-batch brown spirits, craft beer and cocktails at this rustic-chic Evanston tavern with a bar, library and secluded dining booths in distinctive barrel alcoves.
Ping-Pong is what it's about at this Loop hangout, a clubby British import serving creative New American fare with Mediterranean and Asian accents, plus a serious craft cocktail program amid upscale decor.
Serving a short menu of beef and veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and a few rotating specials (alongside shakes, sodas and coffee), this tiny Logan Square counter distinguishes itself with unusual global sauces. The late-night hours cater to the booming local bar scene.
The taproom of this South Loop microbrewery pours its 10 brews in a warehouse space lined with colorful cartoon murals and picnic tables, where patrons can bring their own food or order delivery from several local eateries.
A sibling to a longstanding Mount Prospect spot, this French eatery serves cafe fare with some Mediterranean and American accents, plus wine and cocktails from a full bar. Distressed brick walls, tiles and a decorative vintage ceiling give the casual space a pub-like atmosphere.
Seasonal American fare and cocktails are featured at this high-style tavern from the Lawless sisters (The Gage, Acanto). The sprawling, 8,000-square-foot space in the Loop’s Block 37 development is done up in handsome earth tones, and features leather seating, a long bar, inlaid wood floors, architectural light fixtures and decorative nods to old Chicago.
Wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and craft cocktails are the focus at this hip Boystown hangout also serving sandwiches, burgers, bar snacks and brunch. The traditional pub setting has an antique wood bar, fireplace and spacious patio, plus board games and DJs on weekends.