New & Hot Places

10 Hottest New Restaurants in Chicago

So far, 2016 has proven to be Chicago's best dining year ever. New openings emerge on a constant basis, from a red-hot cider pub to a Restaurant Row quickly establishing itself as the greatest dining district in the country. Here are the city's 10 hottest eateries at the moment.

  • Matthew Gilson
    Matthew Gilson
    • New
    • New American
    • West Loop
    Alinea chef Grant Achatz and crew run this hip West Loop destination for less formal but still cutting-edge New American dining adjacent to Next. The name refers to the vibrant atmosphere – complete with bumping music, creative cocktails and a high-energy, open kitchen – and the group’s signatures are evident in the unusual ingredients on the menu and stylishly modern decor in the space.

    Must-Order: You can't go wrong at Alinea Group’s most casual endeavor to date. Some standout dishes exhibit a real panache for balancing sweet and savory, like a sourdough pancake with marinated mussels and duck confit with steamed blueberry pudding. 

    Insider Tip: There’s a bonus dining room in the basement called The Prep Kitchen, which is cozier, quieter and more intimate for diners looking to get up close and personal with the cooking. 

  • Galdones Photography
    Galdones Photography
    Duck Duck Goat
    • New
    • Chinese
    • West Loop
    Chef Stephanie Izard cooks creative Chinese fare – including dim sum, hand-pulled noodles, duck and goat dishes – at this buzzy West Loop outpost also serving an all-can beer list and crafty cocktails with Asian flavors. The striking AvroKO-designed space features ornate, distinctively decorated dining areas with banquettes, lazy Susan tabletops and exotic drapery, plus a bar made to look like an outdoor pavilion.

    Must-Order: Courtesy of Stephanie Izard, this is Chinese food like you’ve never tasted. Take a cue from the restaurant’s name, and opt for novelties like duck egg rolls and slap noodles with goat sausage, eggplant and shrimp. 

    Insider Tip: The restaurant offers a rotating “goat of the day” special.

  • Galdones Photography
    Galdones Photography
    • New
    • Steakhouse
    • Old Town
    From Brendan Sodikoff (Au Cheval) and the team behind Kirkwood Bar & Grill, this industrial-chic Old Town steakhouse doubles as a nightspot, pouring draft cocktails by the pitcher to wash down beef and other modern American fare. The loungey, multilevel surroundings incorporate old stereo equipment, sweeping staircases and mood lighting, with tufted banquettes and DJs spinning late into the night.

    Must-Order: In line with the upbeat vibe of this Old Town stunner, keep it casual with a plate of brisket-loaded nachos (paired with a potent Fireball Old Fashioned of rye, Fireball, bitters and orange, of course). 

    Insider Tip: As the night wears on, SteakBar's lighting above the DJ booth flickers off to simply read “Bar.” The music and ambiance follow suit. 

  • Alexander Gouletas
    Alexander Gouletas
    St. Lou's Assembly
    • New
    • American
    • West Loop
    Next to their West Loop bar, Moneygun, this retro-inspired American kitchen from the Longman & Eagle crew specializes in refined takes on old-school comfort food in the form of customizable meat-and-three-side platters that diners select cafeteria-style. The simple setup features vinyl booths and black-and-white photographs, with beer, house cocktails and boozy floats on hand to complement your meal.

    Must-Order: Grab a tray and mosey down the cafeteria line at this contemporary eatery where you can fill up on meatloaf Wellington with sides of braised kale, ratatouille and smashed potatoes. 

    Insider Tip: Lou’s offers a different blue plate special every day of the week, with items like apricot-glazed duck on Mondays, fried trout on Wednesdays and veal milanese on Sundays. 

  • Nick Murway
    Nick Murway
    The Northman
    • New
    • Bar
    • North Center
    Specializing in cider, this North Center lair from the Fountainhead folks features an enormous selection of the signature drink, plus cider-based cocktails and apple brandies, to pair with European-inspired gastropub fare. The intimate, buzzy setting boasts a classic tin ceiling and cider-themed artwork including a large mural.

    Must-Order: If you can beat the lines at Chicago’s first cider pub, try The Northman’s house cider made from heirloom Michigan apples. You can also get weird with a coffee-infused cider from Seattle, both of which pair nicely with an order of escargots. 

    Insider Tip: The Northman just started lunch service, which should hopefully temper the crazy crowds. Lunch is served Tuesdays–Sundays from 11:30 AM–2 PM. 

  • Oriole
    • New
    • West Loop
    The former Senza team plus Boka’s erstwhile pastry chef helm this high-end West Loop New American offering an extended tasting menu–only format with two levels of beverage pairings. The stylish, contemporary space features soft lighting, white tablecloths and a loft-like vibe, with a windowed kitchen offering a view of the action.

    Must-Order: There’s no menu at this new tasting menu restaurant from Noah Sandoval, Cara Sandoval and Genie Kwon. But rest assured you are in very good hands, especially when stunning dishes like lamb belly and chicory custard start streaming out of the open kitchen. 

    Insider Tip: Pastry chef Kwon makes and bottles her own “Altoids” in lieu of typical mints in the bathroom. 

  • Jeff Marini
    Jeff Marini
    il Porcellino
    • New
    • Italian
    • River North
    Set in the former Paris Club space in River North, this vibrant trattoria from the Melman clan serves a compact menu of housemade pastas, antipasti, Italian entrees and daily specials, plus negronis and traditional wicker-clad carafes of wine, all in an airy, relaxed setting with industrial ductwork and funky photography.

    Must-Order: In a city saturated with Italian restaurants, chef Doug Psaltis keeps things fresh and exciting with essentials like doughy focaccia pizzas, killer chicken parmesan (Wednesdays only) and a wonderful gnocchi Bolognese.  

    Insider Tip: Dessert is wheeled to the table on a cart, brimming with items like banana tiramisu and zuccherati (cannoli-shaped Italian donuts) filled with whipped mascarpone. 

  • BJ Pichman
    BJ Pichman
    • New
    • Brewpub
    • East Village
    Exotic house beers made with botanic ingredients pair with creative gastropub plates at this industrial-chic East Village brewpub. Set in a century-old former theater, the lofty space is decorated with rustic brick, reclaimed wood and vintage apothecary bottles, with a private dining room overlooking the vats.

    Must-Order: This groundbreaking “botanical brewery” has some of the most invigorating brewpub fare in town, with house beers like its Wildflower Pale Ale and fried giardiniera with black garlic ranch to match. 

    Insider Tip: Forbidden Root just released a line of elixirs, which act as flavor supplements to any beer or soda. Elixirs come in flavors like Woodmaster (a riff on woodruff), Cherrytree and the honey-focused Robear. 

  • Imperial Lamian
    Imperial Lamian
    Imperial Lamian
    • New
    • Chinese
    • River North
    Handmade noodles, dim sum and wok-fired dishes are the specialties issuing from the open kitchen at this chic Chinese haunt in River North, the first U.S. outpost of an Indonesia-based chain. The bar pours artisanal, tea-infused cocktails and the striking, Asian-inspired decor features stylized abacus grates, roomy booths and ambient lighting from birdcage and globe fixtures.

    Must-Order: Indonesia-based Imperial Group made its U.S. debut in Chicago, and they’ve brought their habit-forming namesake Lamian noodles with them. Hand-pulled in the open kitchen, they’re like a fluffier, lighter version of ramen. 

    Insider Tip: A welcome upgrade from the typical slice of pizza, Imperial Lamian’s late-night menu (available Thursday–Saturday from 10 PM–12 AM) contains wok-tossed soft-shell crab, stuffed chicken wings, roast duck soup and Gruyère soup dumplings. 

  • Bar Marta
    Bar Marta
    Bar Marta
    • 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.

Recommended on Zagat