After a two-year hiatus, lauded former Nightwood Chef Jason Vincent is back in the ring with a seasonally driven concept that places an emphasis on simple, well-crafted fare. The fried super uni shooter, tagliatelle with house meat sauce, and pecan-smoked baby back ribs shine on the opening menu. Note that the space is pretty tiny and the early demand is high, so plan accordingly with reservations in advance.
The folks behind Piccolo Sogno and the now-closed Piccolo Sogno Due have transformed the former Due space into a multi-faceted concept that features a counter-service sandwich shop component, a lounge, and an elegant, full-service dining space. Swing by street-side Nonnina To-Go for foot-long subs and Italian pastries, kick back at the lounge with a stiff drink and bar bites like fried pizza dough stuffed with pancetta, rapini, and ricotta, and explore mafalde Bolognese, braciole alla Nonnina, and more in the main dining room.
This all-day watering hole from Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Trenchermen) operates as a coffee shop by day and a Latin American-focused cocktail lineup by night. Brightly colored tiles and accents pull the Latin influence into the space's aesthetic, while a small selection of sweet and savory house-made snacks complement the Dark Matter brew and spirit-forward libations.
A new outpost of this taco joint has opened on Fullerton Ave... just in time to shutter its original Diversey location. Fortunately, the new digs are significantly larger than the old, boast both sidewalk seating and a back patio, and serve up the same tortilla-wrapped bliss that first earned it popularity.
French Market’s wildly popular poke stand heads to Lakeview with its first brick-and-mortar storefront. Expect the same signature creations as the original, as well as a fully loaded pack-your-own poke bowl experience with your choice of base, poke, and fresh toppings ranging from Maui onion and pickled ginger to pineapple, edamame, and volcano sauce. Pro tip: be on the lookout for the brand’s third location inside the Loop’s Revival Food Hall later this summer.
Situated within The Kimpton Gray Hotel (opening soon), this new fine-dining resto from the Fifty/50 Group (Roots, West Town Bakery, The Sixth) is quite a departure from its roster of decidedly more casual concepts. The glamorous dining space provides context for an array of beautifully composed dishes that run the gamut from smoked oxtail croquettes to chicken ballotine; equally beautifully presented cocktails and a selection from one of Chicago's largest antique whiskey collections prove worthy matches for the eats.
West Rogers Park’s beloved BYOB seafood shack migrates south with a second location. The 105-seat expansion promises the same Louisiana-style seafood by the pound as the original, so eat all the king crab legs you can stomach. Also like the first location, a visit necessitates clothing you won’t mind getting messy.
This eclectic spot has been serving its namesake everything-but-the-kitchen-sink rice dish since 2012 and shows no sign of slowing, and as a testament to its success, has launched two new add-ons: a craft cocktail lounge ("The Ladies Room") and daytime Chinese bakery ("The Bakery at Fat Rice"). The bakery menu is flush with Chinese sausage-stuffed honey pig buns, mochi, and Rare Tea Cellars tea, while large format cocktails and reimagined classics like a Malort-infused Negroni will quench the thirst of one and many at the lounge.
1. Giant3209 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
2. Nonnina340 N Clark St, Chicago
3. Estereo2450 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
4. L'Patron Tacos3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
5. Aloha Poke Co.843 W Belmont Ave, Chicago
6. Steadfast120 W Monroe St, Chicago
7. The Angry Crab1308 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL, Chicago
8. Fat Rice2957 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
Chef Jason Vincent, a former Food & Wine Best New Chef, is behind Giant, a tiny 40-seat restaurant in Logan Square. The upscale Midwestern-inspired menu is unpretentious and hearty in nature (opening menu dishes included pecan-smoked baby back ribs, garlic buttermilk potatoes, and biscuits with jalapeno butter) but nonetheless exciting and unexpected. The bite-size fried uni shooters are a standout, made of a crispy, golden exterior and rich, silky interior. The space itself is reflective of the food: quirkily designed but comforting.
The team behind Piccolo Sogno transformed the Piccolo Sogno Due space into Nonnina, a casual but multi-faceted restaurant inspired by the partners' grandmothers. The menu is an homage to traditional Italian food with soul-warming pastas (the baked pasta dish, Timpano della Nonnina, is a must-order for groups) and hearty meat entrées like chicken parm and veal Marsala. Aside from a full-service dining room, Nonnina features a counter sandwich shop where you can order subs, soups, and cannoli to-go.
The guys from Heisler Hospitality (Sportsman's Club, Pub Royale) are behind this all-day corner bar in Logan Square. By day, Estero is a Modbar-equipped cafe serving Dark Matter coffee and pastries. At night, it turns into its raison d'être: an agave-focused cocktail bar. The triangular space is casual and bright thanks to garage door windows that open onto the street in the summer.
If you thought you could only get decent Mexican street food south of the border, think again – for Chicagoans, it’s as easy as a trip to Logan Square. The market-driven menu at L’Patron includes highlights like carne asada and the signature la gringa, a tortilla with al pastor, Chihuahua cheese, pineapple, and a side of rice and beans. While seating is available, this counter-service taqueria is a lunch hotspot, so get there early to snag a seat and chow down.
After a successful start in French Market, Aloha Poke Co opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Lakeview. The menu is entirely customizable, letting you choose your protein (tuna, salmon, or tofu), base (white rice, brown rice, or mixed greens), add-ons (pineapple, tobiko, avocado, etc), and sauces (yuzu ranch, wasabi, sesame oil, etc). There are a few counter seats but otherwise, seating is limited.
Inside The Kimpton Gray Hotel, Steadfast is a fine-dining restaurant whose menu is a mix of small plates and large group entrées that mix Mediterranean, Portuguese, and American elements. Expect elegant courses like foie gras terrine, smoked sweetbreads with chorizo and truffles, and whole-roasted duck, as well as plenty of charcuterie made in the designated charcuterie room. The space includes a large dining room, a 20-seat bar, and a patio.
The second location of the Rogers Park original, The Angry Crab in Wicker Park serves the same Cajun-style seafood in a larger space. The menu is the same, featuring crawfish, crab, lobster, and the crustacean like doused up in the spices and seasoning of your choice. Eating at The Angry Crab is a do-it-yourself endeavor with a helluva lot of shucking, but the mess is so worth it.
This perpetual hot spot in Logan Square specializes in the cuisine of Macau, which translates to a mix of European and Asian comfort foods. The signature dish is arroz gordo, aka fat rice, a paella-meets-bibimbap bowl of layered rice packed rich with clams, prawns, sausage, chicken, eggs, olives, and chilis. Everything about Fat Rice is conducive to sharing, from the appetizers and entrees to the communal tables.