New & Hot Places

The 10 Hottest New Restaurants in Chicago

As we enter 2016, Chicago's culinary scene is more exciting than ever. There are new openings on a weekly basis that range from two-story steakhouses to artful lattes. Here are the city's 10 trendiest eateries of the moment.

  • Bar Marta
    • New
    • Bar And Grill
    • Humboldt Park
    This intimate Humboldt Park corner hangout serves sophisticated New American plates and desserts along with classic cocktails, global wines and craft beer, all courtesy of a crew of Hogsalt Hospitality (Au Cheval) alums. The low-lit, compact space is dominated by a long, mirror-backed bar, with a smattering of tables set amid whitewashed brick and exposed rafters.

    Must-Order: Start your meal with an order of chicken liver toast: crispy chicken skin and chiles on housemade sourdough.

    Insider Tip: The wine list has a unique assortment of orange wines, ranging from an Italian by the glass to a $150 bottle.

  • The Blanchard
    • French
    • Old Town
    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.

    Must-Order: An entire section of the menu is dedicated to different preparations of foie gras, including a black-truffle-crusted lobe with candied lavender and sauce Madeira.

    Insider Tip: A glass off the extensive wine list might seem like a no-brainer, but with bartender Arunas Bruzas (Acadia) behind the bar, cocktails are an equally tempting option.

  • BoeufHaus
    • Steakhouse
    • Humboldt Park
    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.

    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.

  • Cold Storage
    • New
    • Seafood
    • West Loop
    Given that it’s located in a former 1923 cold-storage facility, the name’s a natural for this seafood-centric restaurant-within-a-restaurant inside steakhouse Swift & Sons, where grilled-fish plates and shellfish towers share the menu with sandwiches and salads in a hip, industrial space with a marble bar serving cocktails and beer.

    Must-Order: The shrimp bahn mi is quickly becoming one of our favorite sandwiches in the city with crispy shrimp on a soft baguette.

    Insider Tip: Don't ignore the catch of the day, a rotating selection of fish prepared either grilled, steamed, fried or a la plancha.

  • dos Urban Cantina
    • New
    • Mexican
    • Logan Square
    Alums of Topolobampo are in the kitchen at this modern Mexican entry in Logan Square, where the creative, elevated fare is backed by premium tequilas, a lengthy wine list, craft cocktails and a selection of Mexican and regional beers. The setting combines rustic and contemporary elements for a stylishly casual vibe, with two quartz-topped bars, folk art and dramatic light fixtures.

    Must-Order: Shrimp taquitos come in a rich tomato broth with garnishes of bright avocado and pickled vegetables.

    Insider Tip: This contemporary Mexican restaurant not only elevates its food options, but also ups the margarita game: Lunazul blanco tequila, Combier orange and sour orange.

  • Intro Chicago
    • American
    • Lincoln Park
    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.

    Must-Order: Chef Stephen Gillanders is in his last month in residency. Don't miss an opportunity to dive into hamachi sashimi with black sesame ponzu, puffed rice and avocado.

    Insider Tip: Listen to your servers, as they hold the secret to off-menu additions — often the highlight of the meal.

  • Maple and Ash
    • New
    • Steakhouse
    • River North
    Elegant and extravagant, this River North steakhouse draws diners with flame-grilled prime meats and decadent roasted seafood towers backed by a large, heavy-hitting wine list from sommelier Belinda Chang. Sophisticated, white-tablecloth surroundings with wood accents, neighborhood views and an intimate lounge define the airy upstairs space, while the chic main-floor bar is lined with black-and-white photography and patrons drinking martinis and cheekily named signature cocktails.

    Must-Order: 28-day dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye can be adorned in caramelized shallots, roasted bone marrow, king crab and more.

    Insider Tip: Two lounges with bars — one on the first floor and another on the second — accept walk-ins The first floor one has different food and cocktail menus (no steak yet), but the upstairs one offers the full menu.

    • New
    • Italian
    • West Loop
    The first restaurant from Top Chef runner-up Sarah Grueneberg (ex Spiaggia), this stylish West Loop cucina proffers a modern Italian menu highlighting housemade pastas along with snacks and entrees using occasional unexpected international ingredients. The beverage program includes global wines, craft cocktails and beer, while the airy setting combines rustic and industrial elements with a butcher-block bar decked in pasta-drying racks, plus shelves of specialty-food retail items.

    Must-Order: Arrabbiata, also known as wok-fried orecchiette with head-on Gulf shrimp, tomato, toasted garlic and hot pepper oil.

    Insider Tip: Snag a seat at the bar for a view of the pasta kitchen; you can watch real-life Italian grandmas work their magic pulling and shaping housemade noodles.

  • Oyster Bah
    • New
    • Seafood
    • Lincoln Park
    Lettuce Entertain You is behind this New England–style seafood joint in Lincoln Park, serving up a large selection of raw oysters plus fish sandwiches and plates in a rustic, multilevel space with nautical decor and two bars, including a cellar with its own food and cocktails menu.

    Must-Order: A simple, yet elegant, farm egg sits on a bed of Lonesome Stone polenta, covered in Scorzone truffles and Grana Padano.

    Insider Tip: Sommelier Rachael Lowe's unique wine list features all female winemakers from around the globe. 

  • Sawada Coffee
    • New
    • Coffee Shop
    • West Loop
    This hip West Loop coffeehouse from renowned Japanese barista Hiroshi Sawada and Brendan Sodikoff serves classic and distinctive coffee drinks (some alcoholic), tea and Doughnut Vault delights in a funky, rustic space with a hand-painted espresso machine and a Ping-Pong table.

    Must-Order: The military latte is the best of both worlds with creamy matcha and bold espresso dusted with cocoa powder.

    Insider Tip: Just for this location, Doughnut Vault created a special military donut to match its latte, with green tea and chocolate drizzle.

Recommended on Zagat