As we enter fall, Chicago's culinary scene is more exciting than ever, with new openings ranging from an old-school diner revived by a fine-dining chef to a grab-and-go home for Chicago's most famous cheeseburger. Here are the city's 10 trendiest eateries right now.
A sibling to Siena Tavern, this sprawling West Loop Italian from Fabio Viviani offers regional fare such as antipasti and pizza from a red-tiled oven, backed by cocktails, beer and Boot-based wines. The chic, modern space features a ground-floor bar connected to an upstairs dining room by a twinkling tree sculpture, plus a sidewalk patio and a walk-up window serving sweets and coffee.
- West Loop
Must-Order: Wild mushroom pizza with roasted garlic, fontina and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Insider Tip: An illuminated light over the walk-up window on Green Street mean BomboBar is open — the one-stop-shop for filled Italian donuts.
Tucked away in Old Town, this upscale destination proffers modern, refined presentations of traditional French plates (expect plenty of foie gras), along with fine wines and pastry chef–conceived desserts. Highlights of the chic, white-tablecloth setting include abstract watercolors, an open kitchen with a marble dining counter and a secluded seasonal patio.
- Old Town
Must-Order: An entire section of the menu is dedicated to different preparations of foie gras, including a seared lobe with seedling farms strawberries, pan-fried brioche French toast and vanilla gastrique.
Insider Tip: A glass of the extensive wine list might seem like a no-brainer, but with bartenders Michael Simon (Celeste) and Arunas Bruzas (Acadia) behind the bar, cocktails are an equally tempting option.
Creative, seasonal steakhouse cooking takes on a German accent at this Ukrainian Village meatery where classic chops like rib-eye and filet mignon are joined by more Euro-centric apps and sides. The sleek gray-brick surrounds have a chic, rustic vibe with exposed brick, marble and subway tiles.
- Humboldt Park
Must-Order: Skip the steak and opt for the duck breast with root vegetables in natural jus.
Insider Tip: The restaurant serves an equally meaty lunch with gourmet takes on corned beef and Reuben sandwiches.
A "more economical", "less formal" "alternative" to next-door sibling Spiaggia, this Gold Coast Italian "doesn't skimp on taste", sending out "luscious", often "creative" fare set down by "informed" staffers; windows in the "lovely" space afford "beautiful" city views, and while tables can sometimes feel a "bit tight", and bills aren't low, that doesn't stop many from "going back time and again."
- Magnificent Mile
Must-Order: A simple yet elegant farm egg sits on a bed of Lonesome Stone polenta and it covered in Scorzone truffles and Grana Padano.
Insider Tip: Sommelier Rachael Lowe's unique wine list features all female winemakers from around the globe.
The team behind Longman & Eagle has revived this iconic dining room in the Loop's Chicago Athletic Association, offering an upscale supper club menu of classic American fare plus artisanal cocktails. Cherry wood, velvet and leather seating and a massive curved bar further take patrons back to a more genteel era.
- The Loop
Must-Order: Steamed bouchot mussels are served in a silky lobster broth made with coconut and red curry.
Insider Tip: Grab a nightcap with a round of bocce ball in the Game Room or with views of Millennium Park on the roof at Cindy's.
Sprung from a New York–based Middle Eastern chain known for gyros, falafel, chicken and hummus, this small Gold Coast storefront is a casual option for lunch, dinner and late-night snacks on weekends. The counter-service confines are decorated with photos of iconic Chicago spots, with limited seating and a ledge for eating upright – just like customers of the original Big Apple food carts would do.
- Middle Eastern
- River North
Must-Order: Gyro rice platter covered in a generous slathering of white and spicy red sauce.
Insider Tip: The opening of the first brick-and-mortar location of the popular New York food cart caused a sliced-meat frenzy. Expect long lines and a limit of how much food each customer can order.
The Lettuce Entertain You folks have reconcepted L20 into this high-end Lincoln Park American in the Belden-Stratford building, where a rotation of primo guest chefs turn out contemporary tasting menus. The transformed space still sets a sophisticated tone with natural elements and a lounge area, and reservations are by a ticketing system with pricing varying by day and time.
- Lincoln Park
Must-Order: Current chef-in-residence Aaron Martinez offers a four- or six-course tasting menu, one of the highlights of which is a tomato and watermelon with cured ham, seaweed and flowering coriander.
Insider Tip: Listen to your servers, as they hold the secret to off-menu additions, which are often the highlight of the prix fixe meal.
Pastry chef Sarah Jordan (Boka) steps up to the stovetop at this Logan Square revival of a former greasy spoon dispensing elevated American diner cooking and baked treats. Increased in size thanks to the acquisition of an adjacent flower shop, the casual neighborhood space with its retro-style red stools now features a turquoise-walled bar area offering craft beer and cocktails by the pitcher.
- Logan Square
Must-Order: Jordan pays tribute to her Irish roots with a simple yet satisfying version of fish 'n' chips.
Insider Tip: It's easy to forget after an order of fish 'n' chips that Jordan was once a pastry chef. End a meal with one of her housemade "pop tarts."
The Scofflaw crew turns their attention to seafood at this Logan Square hang turning out a thoroughly modern menu including oysters, creative shared plates and a handful of fish-free entrees. Whitewashed brick, wood shingles, rope and model ships lend a decidedly nautical vibe to the space, while blue banquettes and barstools lend a pop of color.
- Logan Square
Must-Order: Gin-cured salmon with radish, parsnip ketchup, sumac and cress is a nod to the restaurant's sister spot, Scofflaw.
Insider Tip: After 10 PM on Sunday through Thursday, oysters drop down to $1 a pop.
At this diminutive Wicker Park sibling to Au Cheval set in the former Roxie’s By the Slice space, Brendan Sodikoff serves up the original’s beloved burgers with basic toppings and fries, plus milkshakes, shots, beers and cocktails on tap. The pared-down menu befits the more casual, takeout-centric setup, though there’s seating at mismatched tables in the cozy, rustic interior and on the patio.
- Wicker Park
Must-Order: While option are limited, diners don't need much more than a cheeseburger with a side of "golden fries."
Insider Tip: Don't forget a trip to the condiment station outfitted with two types of ketchup, mustard, relish and garlic aïoli.