Given that most Chicagoans have been existing in a "W" flag-shrouded haze this October as the Cubs make their bid for the World Series, we suspect you may not have been paying very close attention to the current state of the dining scene. To help you get back on track, we're breaking down seven noteworthy restaurants that opened while you were rooting for the home team.
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The former Ani space has transformed into Entente, a modern American collaboration between Ty Fujimura (Arami), chefs Brian Fisher (Saved by the Max, Schwa) and Mari Katsumura, and beverage director Angie Silberberg with come-as-you-are digs and decidedly upscale cuisine that ranges from a tasting menu with beverage pairings to a burger and Carolina Gold rice with a duck egg, truffle, and cheese. Not a bad idea to let Brian Fisher cook your next unforgettable meal.
Restaurateur and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh's (The Boarding House, Seven Lions) long-awaited third restaurant has finally arrived. Its suburban locale is neighborhood-y and approachable for locals, while Singh's impressive wine program and Alinea Group alum and executive chef Andrew Graves' rustic Mediterranean fare prove destination-worthy for city-dwelling Chicagoans. The menu changes at the seasons whim, but currently includes polenta croquettes with tomato agro dolce, a pizzette topped with Italian sausage and house giardiniera, spinach, and goat cheese agnolotti tossed with fennel, walnut, pomodoro, and olives, and a selection of wood-fried offerings, like spice-rubbed flat iron steak. For a proper experience, pair your meal with wine from the thorough wine menu.
This sleek, modern Italian cafe is the first of three restaurant concepts to open within the forthcoming Conrad Chicago Hotel. In partnership with Richard Sandoval Restaurants and helmed by Executive Chef Nathan Volz, the casual, counter-service space promises Metropolis Coffee -- including the cafe's exclusive "TAVO" blend -- cold-pressed juices and Italian sodas, and a variety of pastas, salads, and its signature "pizzarotti," or folded-over pizza sandwiches. Score them in flavors like 'nduja and smoked mozzarella, cauliflower, and harissa, and the breakfast-ready mushroom and egg.
Given its table settling-inspired name, it's no surprise that this farm-to-table dry-aged steak joint is the sister restaurant to Lincoln Square's Fork. Go for the 28-day dry-aged 28oz ribeye for two, which is carved tableside and served with twice-baked potatoes, green beans, and au poivre, and stay for the smoked frites with lemon aioli, retro-cool tableside Caesar salad, and sophisticated cocktail menu, which doubles as a lesson in linguistics thanks to definitions listed below each cocktail name and above the ingredient description (for example, the "Sidereal," which means "of or pertaining to the stars," and is made with pea flower-infused Sauza tequila, Luxardo maraschino, a creme de violette "cloud," and citrus).
It's all in the name at the latest from Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Estereo, Lone Wolf), a vegetable-centric concept with a hyper-local bent. The vegetarian-friendly (rest easy, carnivores, there are a handful of meaty dishes, too!) spot stakes its claim in the space adjacent to the group's Lone Wolf, and sports a rustic, outdoorsy aesthetic, complete with white-washed exposed brick walls, a communal bar-style table centered around a trough burgeoning with flora, and a smattering of potted plants along the walls. Here, the spotlight falls on fresh and wood-fire grilled produce, such as summer squash a la plancha, much of which is sourced daily from Chicago-area farmers markets.
This local coffee purveyor has been supplying coffee to local greats like Lula Cafe for a handful of years, and the time has come for it to open its first brick-and-mortar namesake cafe. The cozy shop offers a small lineup of freshly roasted small batch, seasonal craft coffees, including the brand's signature cold brews, Hellion and Nitro. A rotating selection of pastries and small bites pair well with a piping hot cup of joe.
After tempting and teasing Chicago with his world-class barbecue skills at events like the annual Windy City Smokeout, famed pitmaster Myron Mixon has finally made a timely landing in Wrigleyville. Go for a slab of Mixon's famous ribs, baby back mac, or bring your pals and go all in for the $100 King's Feast, which includes a full-slab of ribs, two half-chickens, one pound each of pulled pork and brisket, four cupcake chickens, four egg rolls, hush puppies, and coleslaw.
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Located in a kind of dead zone between bustling Belmont and a vibrant block of Lincoln in Lakeview, Entente brings fine dining to an area sorely in need of it, serving both an à la carte and a reservation-only tasting menu inside a casual, industrial-chic space. Chef Brian Fisher (formerly of Michelin-starred Schwa) is at the helm, using gourmet techniques to spice up basic dishes, like in his grown-up take on a PB&J that features chicken liver mousse and concord grape jam on house-made bread. There's plenty in the way of drinks here, too, including inventive cocktails and a variety of Chicago-brewed beers.
Restaurateur and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (The Boarding House, Seven Lions) opened his third restaurant in the suburban locale of downtown Evanston. Terra & Vine serves Mediterranean food through an Italian lens, so the menu -- whose seasonal nature means it's constantly changing -- includes wood-fired pizza and pastas alongside protein-based entrées like rotisserie chicken with balsamic dressed greens and spice-rubbed flatiron steak with gorgonzola potatoes. For a proper experience, pair your meal with wine from the thorough wine menu.
This sleek, modern Italian cafe in Conrad Chicago Hotel serves Metropolis coffee, cold-pressed juices, Italian sodas, and a variety of pastas and salads in a casual counter-service space. The menu signature is the "pizzarotti," or folded-over pizza sandwiches that come in flavors like 'nduja and smoked mozzarella, cauliflower and harissa, and the breakfast-ready mushroom and egg.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that this cutlery-themed restaurant is the sister joint to nearby Fork. While Fork is known for its poutine, chicken & waffles, and charcuterie, Knife focuses on steak. The highlight of the steakhouse menu is the dry-aged ribeye for two, which is carved tableside and served with twice-baked potatoes, green beans, and au poivre, but smaller, shareable sides like smoked frites with lemon aioli and tableside tossed Caesar salad shouldn't be missed.
This vegetable-centric concept from Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Estero, Lone Wolf) has a rustic, outdoorsy aesthetic, complete with white-washed exposed brick walls, a communal bar-style table, and a smattering of potted plants along the walls. The spotlight is on locally sourced produce -- both fresh and wood-grilled -- but there are a handful of meat-based dishes as well.
Wholesale supplier Metric Coffee's brick-and-mortar cafe serves a lineup of freshly roasted, small-batch and seasonal coffee as well as the brand's signature cold brews, Hellion and Nitro. A rotating selection of pastries and breakfast fare is available, but the minimal seating means the West Town counter-serve is geared towards the grab-and-go crowd.
After firmly establishing himself as the king of barbecue at smoke show competitions across the country, Myron Mixon opened his own 200-seat restaurant in Wrigleyville. The menu features all of the pitmaster's famed recipes, like cupcake chicken (thighs molded then smoked in cupcake pans), brisket, pork wings, baby back mac, and hushpuppies.