The gist: Chef Erick Williams just garnered a James Beard Award for his work at this Southern American restaurant, located in the city’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 if you needed any more reason 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 sausage, 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.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms
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 counter, where they can observe the master chefs work up their menus (all 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 around the world, 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 banana peppers.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.
The gist: After serving the West Loop neighborhood for four years, Jodi Fyfe, Devon Quinn, and team reopen this beloved restaurant—this time in Avondale. They’re bringing with them the same dedication to local and seasonal cooking, sourcing ingredients from farmers markets and their onsite greenhouse alike. A large patio greets guests while ample daylight fills the interiors, readying diners for perfect food pics come breakfast and lunch—two services new to this location.
The food: Seasonality reigns here, as evidenced by items like the Veggie Sandwich with 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 all something to look forward to when dinner service begins on July 20.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
The gist: The One Off Hospitality 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 daily menu that reflects the team’s small-production and local-sourcing philosophies (working with family-owned farms across the Midwest to grow rare heritage grains for their flours). Experience them to-go or onsite—if the latter, take advantage of the patio during summer months, and inside, peruse the retail 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 retail menu of rotating bread offerings including toasted sesame sourdough and malted rye loaves. Other musts: the Tiramisu Cruffin, Mushroom and Manchego Tartine, and, of course, The Big Sandwich, a pay-by-weight handheld of Dijon, stracciatella, mortadella, and sour cherry spread.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
The gist: Eric Williams and Cecilia Cuff opened this wine bar and restaurant just in 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 around the world and spotlights women-, minority-, and African American-owned labels, which pair with a frequently changing menu of locally sourced plates. Through it all, the team hopes to honor the hospitality 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 watermelon steak with honeydew vinaigrette and vegan feta, Ora King salmon with king trumpet mushrooms and sweet onion soubise, or handmade gnocchi alongside Atlantic freshwater scallops, wild foraged mushrooms, and baby kale.
How to book: Reserve via the website or Tock.
The gist: The two restaurants that make up 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 expect 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, expect the same dedication to seasonality throughout the decadent 10-course menu, from foie gras with English peas to roast squab with white asparagus.
How to book: Reserve via Tock (Aboyer; George Trois)