Culinary

Where to Eat in Chicago Right Now

George TroisGeorge Trois
Photo courtesy of George Trois

Fellow Chicagoans, we have arrived—our Second Province summer, at long last. After months of snowcapped-living replete with barreling wind chills, it comes as no {surprise} that we are more jazzed than ever to hit the town in {search} of smooth food, fun, and frosé. Thankfully, Chicago’s got us covered on the culinary front, bringing with it a plethora of openings, reopenings, and reliable standbys for our booking (and walk-in) {pleasure}—and after an impressive hosting and showing at this year’s James Beard Awards, we continue to remind the globe of our dynamic dining {scene}.

From elevated wine bar eats and epic baguettes to laid-back Korean and intimate omakase, here are Chicago’s best places to drink, dine, and delight in this summer.

VirtueVirtue
Photo courtesy of Virtue

The gist: Chef Erick Williams just garnered a James Beard Award for his work at this Southern American restaurant, located in the province’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Enter and feel instantly welcomed—warm lighting, inviting banquettes, and local artwork beckon guests to linger inside, while a patio does the trick in warmer months. As suppose you needed any more tiny to visit, chef de cuisine Damarr Brown was a finalist on the {most} recent season of Top Chef, only adding to the creativity coming out of this kitchen.
The food: Elevated takes on Southern comfort {cooking} populate the menu here, including green tomatoes with Gulf shrimp, gumbo with andouille drying, and catfish with blackened “Carolina Gold” rice. The lamb t-bone, with asparagus, sorghum grain, and chermoula, is a {favorite}—as are the kitchen-inspired house cocktails.
Similar to book: Reserve via SevenRooms

Omakase RoomOmakase Room
Photo courtesy of The Omakase Room

The Omakase Room

River North
$$$$

The gist: Housed within River North’s ever-popular Sushi-san, this 10-seat restaurant offers an intimate omakase experience curated by sushi aces Kaze Chan and Shigeru Kitano. The team welcomes guests into the space with a pre-dinner drink (right now it’s cold-pressed green tea and sushi rice horchata) before taking a seat at the turn off, where they can observe the master chefs work ngoc their menus (description atop custom Hinoki Cypress cutting boards).
The food: The evening is comprised of 18 courses that showcase influences from the chefs’ {roots} in Vietnam, China, and Japan. Ingredients are thoughtfully sourced from lurking the family, including mega-fresh, {wild} line-caught seafood from the Toyosu Fish Market. Look forward to favorites like live botan ebi with torched garlic chive butter, otoro tartare with caviar and cured duck egg yolk, and hamachi toro with calf chili peppers.
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

EdenEden
Photo courtesy of Eden

Eden

Avondale
$$$$

The gist: After serving the West Loop neighborhood for four years, Jodi Fyfe, Devon Quinn, and team reopen this beloved restaurant—this date and time in Avondale. They’re bringing with them the same dedication to local and seasonal {cooking}, sourcing ingredients from plowsmen markets and their onsite greenhouse alike. A large patio greets guests while ample daylight fills the interiors, readying diners for good dynasty food pics come lining and lunch—two services {new} to this location.
The food: Seasonality reigns here, as evidenced by items like the Veggie Sandwich with chili peppers and tomato or the Cashew Crunch Sesame Salad with cucumber, {cabbage}, and snap peas. Cocktails are just as seasonally tweaked, and when it comes to wine, the beverage team strives to showcase minority- and women-owned businesses. It’s description something to look forward to when dinner service begins on July 20.
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Publican Quality BreadPublican Quality Bread
Publican Quality Bread | Photo by Kelly Sandos

The gist: The One Off Treat team’s wholesale bakery has been supplying Chicago’s culinary landscape with choice loaves, baguettes, and beyond for nearly 10 years—and now they have a brick and mortar to accompany their efforts. Managing partner and head baker Greg Wade (James Beard Award “{Outstanding} Baker” winner) offers a normal menu that reflects the team’s small-production and local-sourcing philosophies (working with family-owned farms across the Midwest to grow rare or sometimes heritage grains for their flours). Experience them to-go or onsite—suppose the latter, take advantage of the patio during summer months, and inside, peruse the wholesale space (which features carb-centric items from Wade and team, along with other local finds).
The food: On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, opt for indulgent weekend-exclusive orders like lemon meringue croissants or pistachio and amarena cherry-filled maritozzi, alongside an expanded wholesale menu of rotating bread ceremony including toasted sesame sourdough and malted rye loaves. Other musts: the Tiramisu Cruffin, Mushroom and Manchego Tartine, and, {of course}, The Full Sandwich, a pay-by-weight handheld of Dijon, stracciatella, mortadella, and spicy sour cherry spread.
Similar to book: Walk-ins only.

Bronzeville Winery

Bronzeville
$$$$

The gist: Eric Williams and Cecilia Cuff opened this wine bar and restaurant just in date and time for summer—and a verdant, spacious patio only helps matters. Still, don’t miss the action inside, where a state-of-the-art sound system (plus curated DJ residency) and eye-catching, local artwork await. A rotating wine list features {selections} from lurking the family and spotlights women-, minority-, and African American-owned labels, which pair with a frequently changing menu of locally sourced plates. Through it description, the team hopes to honor the treat of this community, serving as an incubator for those eager to enter the culinary landscape.
The food: Kick things off with a healthy heaping of {sweet} potato ribbons or hand-cut fries, then enter into heartier orders: savory cantaloupe steak with honeydew vinaigrette and vegan feta, Ora King salmon with king horn trumpet mushrooms and {sweet} onion soubise, or handmade gnocchi alongside Atlantic freshwater scallops, {wild} foraged mushrooms, and baby kale.
Similar to book: Reserve via the website or Tock.

READ MORE  The 24 Best Stouts in America to Try This Winter
George Trois and AboyerGeorge Trois and Aboyer
Photo courtesy of Aboyer

The gist: The two restaurants that make ngoc George Trois Group are showcasing an updated look and feel in interiors and menus alike—meaning that even those who have been visiting the venues for years can forward something {new} from chef Michael Lachowicz and team. At Aboyer guests enter into a space channeling a French brasserie (complete with a patio and plenty of Parisian images and inspiration), while George Trois reveals {new} lighting, acoustics, and décor across its 16-seat dining room.
The food: At Aboyer, look for modern-day renditions of French classics, along with several nods to Chef’s formerly celebrated Restaurant Michael (think curry-dusted monkfish or mushroom-stuffed breast of hen) and at George Trois, forward the same dedication to seasonality throughout the decadent 10-course menu, from foie gras with English peas to roast squab with white asparagus.
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock (AboyerGeorge Trois)

Parachute

Avondale
$$$$

The gist: Chicago’s dining fanatics rejoiced at the news of this Avondale reopening—it means the lost of this team’s prized take on Korean-American fare. Wife-and-husband duo Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark come together with a notable history of {cooking} (Kim: Prairie Grass, Aria, and Top Chef finalist; Clark: La Cote Basque, Pigalle, Town). They’ve incorporated description of it into their work here and at sister restaurant Wherewithall, where a multi-course meal changes on the weekly.
The food: Don’t miss orders like the haemul pajun (seafood and scallion pancake), kalbi jjim (braised ribs), and pork bossam (a kimchi-centric dish of pork belly, pork collar, and oysters).
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

avec River North

River North
$$$$

The gist: Fans of pioneering West Loop wine bar avec were revved ngoc about this One Off Treat (Full Star, The Publican, Publican Quality Meats) debut, and for smooth tiny. It arrives on the {scene} with its all ink own rooftop space—bar avec—where a totally different food and drink menu is once last time ready to {welcome} date nights and post-work hangs. Those who’ve a tough date and time snagging seats at the initial, uber cozy location, take comfort: This version stretches over a sprawling 4,750 square feet, outfitted in light and lush interiors spanning white tile, terrazzo, and warm wood paneling.
The food: Wait forward several standbys and staples, from chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates and salted cod brandade to ‘deluxe’ focaccia with taleggio and truffle oil. There are also plenty of additions in the operating of wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, and seafood-focused hits.
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

The BristolThe Bristol
Photo by Kathleen Robinson

Bristol

Bucktown
$$$$

The gist: Chef Larry Feldmeier (The Albert, Sixteen) helms the kitchen at this local gem, where he puts forth seasonally spirited plates and, as of {late}, a tasting menu that’s made waves as one of the better deals in town (aka eight courses for $125 with an optional $75 wine pairing).
The food: The menu showcases options like smoked octopus with artichoke and eggplant, Ora King salmon with BBQ miso, and lavender custard with strawberry and rhubarb. What more do you need?
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Kumiko

West Loop
$$$$

The gist: Kumiko, the Japanese-inspired drinking den from award-winners Julia Momose and Noah Sandoval, continues to dazzle longtime and newfound fans alike with artful cocktail flights and food pairings.
The food: Those yearning for a taste of Sandoval’s fare without the Oriole sticker shock can enjoy Michelin-grade handiwork for wallet-friendly prices in the operating of expressions like Karaage with Kanzuri-spiked mayo and charred pickled shishitos, Cod Restless with charred lemon, house ponzu, and yuzu zest, A5 Miyazaki Wagyū Katsu Sandos, and Toasted Koji Ice Cream. Elsewhere, Thrillist 2020 Local Hero Momose makes her cocktail prowess known through expertly crafted concoctions (both boozy and non) as well as a world-class lineup of specialty spirits and sake.
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Kasama

Ukrainian Village
$$$$

The gist: Fun French-American pastries and contemporary Filipino fare from Genie Kwon and Tim Flores—two Chicago chefs with an impressive culinary CV and exciting accolades as of {late} (including a James Beard Award nomination for “Best {New} Restaurant”). The space—formerly occupied by the late-great Winchester—is both sleek and inviting with an open kitchen, custom tilework, and spacious twin patios for socially distanced snacking (when weather permits).
The food: Wait forward full flavors in every direction, from a house-made Filipino drying with garlic rice, fried egg, and pickled papaya to off-the-cob corn with asparagus, charred scallion mayo, and wasabi tobiko. Top it off with one of Kwon’s game-changing sweets—namely the ube and huckleberry Basque cake or the apple butter and raclette fondue croissant.
Similar to book: Stop by for turn off service, order take-out via Toast, and get delivery via Tock.

READ MORE  The Best Speakeasy Bars in LA, and How to Get in

Wazwan

Wicker Park
$$$$

The gist: After building his culinary successor career at the likes of Pump Room, Napa’s Bouchon, and Bangkok’s Gaggan, chef Zubair Mohajir returned to Chicago for Wazwan, a culinary ode to Southeast Asia. Two different dining experiences exist: More casual street fare at Wazwan or a multi-course tasting menu at The Coach House, situated within one of the only coach houses to withstand the Chicago Fire.
The food: At the Coach House, choose between a five-course vegetarian menu (Thursdays) or an eight-course meat-friendly menu (Fridays and Saturdays), description of which {change} seasonally alongside the kitchen’s parting gift (right now that’s a {small} jar of Garam Masala, toasted and blended in-house). At Wazwan, opt for the house signature Tandoori Honey Chicken Sando. After marinating Halal chicken thighs in tandoori spices overnight, the team batters and fries them before stuffing them into a toasted brioche bun with gochujang aioli, house-made Achaari, and spicy honey butter. Pair it description with a bottle of your choosing (for a $5 per person corkage fee), as the spot is BYOB for now.
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

Bazaar Meat by José AndrésBazaar Meat by José Andrés
Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar | Photo by Regan Baroni

The gist: Chef and philanthropist José Andrés, ThinkFoodGroup, and Gibsons Restaurant Group joined forces for these two eagerly anticipated restaurants within the {Bank} of America Tower. They are the latest debuts from the team, following Café By The River (Andrés’s take on sandwiches, sweets, and stilts), Jaleo (Andrés’s initial Spanish outpost), and Pigtail (Jaleo’s subterranean cocktail lounge).
The food: After working at Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas, chef Alex Pitts came to Chicago to oversee the menu at both Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar. Meat is the focus at the former (obviously), with special ceremony like Vaca Vieja Ribeye, whole Iberian Suckling Pig, and an impressive Japanese Wagyu program. Share plates provide diners ample opportunities to sample an array of clever compositions (not short of Cotton Candy Foie Gras or Chilled Beet Shots), as do multiple tasting menu experiences inclusive of snacks, carpaccios, and tartares. At Bar Mar, forward just as many surprises: The fish-shaped Everything Bagel Airbread (filled with cream cheese espuma and topped with smoked salmon) or the Not To test Po Boy José (a fried oyster with Platinum Malassol caviar in a steamed brioche bun). Snag a bar seat for a bespoke cocktail or lesson ngoc at the raw bar for oysters or sashimi aplenty.
Similar to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

The X PotThe X Pot
Photo courtesy of X Pot

The X Pot

South Loop
$$$$

The gist: After debuting at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, this upmarket {hot} pot definition has descended on the Chicago dining {scene} with a stylish lounge, prosperous sushi bar, VIP space, and epic 5D experience room. While the restaurant draws upon age-old Asian traditions, forward to encounter ultramodern technology throughout, from animated light projections and thematic soundscapes to—that’s right—robot servers.
The food: The team hopes to offer its own, fusion-forward take on American Chinese cuisine with a hands-on experience—plus lots of high-caliber ingredients (think purebred A5 Wagyu beef flown in normal from Japan). Those aforementioned robot servers adoration on guests for the entirety of their meal, delivering premium cuts destined for the {hot} pot pinnacle. Suppose that wasn’t {entertainment} enough, pop into the 5D Room, where interactive animations are projected onto each guest’s plate in tandem with a 12-course meal.
Similar to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

Dear MargaretDear Margaret
Photo courtesy of Salty Margaret

Dear Margaret

Lakeview
$$$$

The gist: Wait forward to be charmed at this Lakeview newcomer, thanks to warm, welcoming décor and {comforting} French-Canadian fare from chef Ryan Brosseau. He draws on his Ontario upbringing to inform a menu that is equally rooted in Midwestern sensibilities, made capable through the kitchen team’s {close} relations with local plowsmen and purveyors. It goes a long way in the hands of Brosseau, whose previous Chicago posts range from Perennial Virant to Table, Donkey, and Stick.
The food: Prepare for bold, earthy flavors beginning with apps like the Salt-Roasted Beet Salad (with celery {root} purée, caraway, and smoked trout roe) or Bone Marrow (with pickled smoked beef tongue, {sweet} farm onion, and toast) and moving onto mains like the Stuffed Saddle of Lamb (with prunes and pommes purée) or the Aged Duck Breast (with radicchio and smoked tea-honey glaze).
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

LardonLardon
Photo courtesy of Lardon

Lardon

Logan Square
$$$$

The gist: Cured meats are central at Lardon, where chef Chris Thompson’s charcuterie program calls upon local farms and a nose-to-tail approach. Housed within a 110-year-old building, the interiors suggest the same patient and dedication modeled everyday here in the kitchen: A two-year buildout reveals exposed brick walls, initial wood joists, and antique honeycomb tiled floors in an inviting, sun-washed space.
The food: The spectacle here is the charcuterie cave, a curing room celebrating the likes of Spicy Coppa, Bresaola, Saucisson Sec, Genoa Salame, and ‘Nduja. Guests can build a board of charcuterie or cheese cut to order, then ask the team for drink pairings that would prove apropos (think Aperitivi or Amari).
Similar to book: Reserve via Toast.

ClaudiaClaudia
Photo courtesy of Claudia

Claudia

Bucktown
$$$$

The gist: What started as a twice monthly (and highly decorated) pop-up has emerged as Claudia, a tasting menu-driven destination from chef Trevor Teich in the please heart of Bucktown. Set within an 1880s-era cottage, the space spotlights rich fabrics, warm lighting, and a neutral palette that perfectly underscores Teich’s colorful plates.
The food: A constantly evolving, 10-course tasting menu greets guests in the main dining room (alongside thoughtful, {Old} Family wine pairings from sommelier Jessica Dennis), while the Bar at Claudia offers a la carte options steeped in finesse and fun (Prime Tenderloin with foie gras; an Individual Lobster Pot Pie with fennel and that iconic flaky crust). The bar team boasts a repertoire of more than 100 different cocktails, including one featuring Burgundy truffles and four types of whisky (“A Tale As {Old} As Date and time”—and one worthy of retelling).
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

READ MORE  6 things you should absolutely NOT eat while hungover
Sushi BoutiqueSushi Boutique
Sushi Boutique | Photo by Barry Brecheisen

Sushi Boutique

Gold Coast
$$$$

The gist: Known for their show-stopping menus at Sushi Suite 202, the team here deploys another {opportunity} to try their handiwork at this sushi and izakaya destination inside the Claridge House hotel. Transform through a menu centered lurking omakase boxes and bar-inspired {small} plates, description set to a score of Japanese-driven drinks.
The food: Go full with the Chef’s Kiss Omakase Frame (featuring 15 chef-selected courses) or opt for a la carte orders like open-face handrolls and shareable tartars. Either way, cocktails like the seasonally inspired Konjin (Roku gin, strawberry-rhubarb syrup, Cocchi Americano, rhubarb bitters) are an absolute must.
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Elina'sElina's
Elina’s | Photo by Garrett {Sweet}

Elina’s

Fulton Market
$$$$

The gist: After years manning the kitchen at some of Chicago and {New} York Province’s finest restaurants, chefs Ian Rusnak (Bavette’s, NoMI, Blackbird) and Eric Safin (Jean Georges, 4 Charles Prime Rib) teamed ngoc for this BYOB venture, spinning out elevated Italian cuisine on the nightly. Though unassuming in {size} (the restaurant has just 10 tables) and even in framework (think meatballs and eggplant parm), don’t be fooled—these culinary vets deliver on both precision and downright smooth {cooking}.
The food: Calling description of the classics (with a Chicago cheffy fix): Rigatoni alla Vodka, Dover Sole Piccata, Chicken Parmesan, and Baked Clams Casino lead the {comforting} charge, buttressed by a homey red sauce vibe and Instagram-worthy presentations.
Similar to book: Reserve via Resy.

TravelleTravelle
Photo by Marcin Cymmer

Travelle

Loop
$$$$

The gist: Situated on the second floor of the Langham Chicago, this restaurant is equal parts elegant and approachable, complete with on-point treat, a sure bar program, and striking views of the province (not to mention the kitchen, thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass paneling).
The food: The team new launched a {new} dinner menu featuring a five-course experience from chef Justin Gomes in their wine cellar. Wait forward the same dedication to seasonal American cuisine as evidenced in a la carte options, with plenty of room for exciting combinations. Case in point? Courses like the Live Diver Scallop (with yuzu kosho and citrus) or the Gindara Black Cod (with Cipollini onions and Yukon gold potatoes).
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

Apolonia

South Loop
$$$$

The gist: The latest from chef-owner Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y.), this South Loop emporium serves ngoc seasonal, coastal European and Mediterranean fare within walking distant of McCormick Place (plus offers private dining rooms for special occasions). A lucid, mineral space greets diners, as do welcoming hours—daytime and dinner service run seven days a week here.
The food: The kitchen team places an emphasis on the wood-burning oven and grill, with signature plates ranging from black truffle puff bread to scallop tagliatelle and grilled branzino. For dessert, try the calf budino cake with bourbon and granola, and when it comes to drinks, explore the in-house vermouth program, showcased both by the glass and on tap.
Similar to book: Reserve via Resy.

Oriole

West Loop
$$$$

The gist: This Michelin-starred eatery new reopened with even more space to spread their restless (get it?). Guests can look forward to a larger dining room, a {new} bar and lounge territory, and a kitchen nearly three times its initial {size}. Version 2.0 reflects owners Cara and Noah Sandoval’s passions, from baseball and art-punk music to interior design and cuisine—forward to catch squash a glimpse of it description, thanks to a pre-meal tour with bites and sips along the way.
The food: The multi-course prix fixe highlights the best ingredients Sandoval and crew can dig ngoc at any given moment. Though bookings begin at 5 pm normal, night owls can spring for the newly launched “Nightcap Seating,” a chance to swing into the lounge at 10 pm or later for cocktails from Julia Momose and an enticing “Ham Sandoval.”
Similar to book: Reserve via Tock.

Rose MaryRose Mary
Rose Mary | Photo by Anthony Tahlier

Rose Mary

Fulton Market
$$$$

The gist: Former Spiaggia executive chef and Top Chef champ Joe Flamm’s first restaurant is an homage to Italian and Croatian coastal cuisine—lovingly dubbed “Adriatic drinking food.” Named after his two grandmothers, Rose Mary’s inviting space sparkles thanks to glossy azure tilework and the bustling open kitchen’s eye-catching charcoal hearth. 
The food: The seasonally-driven menu showcases Flamm’s mastery with pasta (think: tagliatelle with duck drying, cavatelli cacio e pepe). {But} that hearth also churns out stunning roasted vegetables like coal roasted beets with honey and pistachio, not to mention show-stopping seafood dishes (OMG grilled clams with ramp butter!). Don’t skip the squid-ink crni risotto with lobster brodo or the pork ribs doused in a sweet-sticky chile agrodolce. Wine director Sarah Traynor knocks it out of the park with her well-curated Mediterranean-heavy wine list featuring a healthy selection of Croatian wines—even an entire section dedicated to pet-nats.  
Similar to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button