Seeing the opening of a sharing-focused steakhouse, a sausage joint expansion, a grill-it-yourself Asian BBQ concept, and a sandwich shop dedicated to Boar's Head ham, September proved to be one of the most carnivore-friendly months Chicago’s food scene has seen in quite some time. Don’t worry, vegetarians, there’s still plenty for you, too (do you sometimes eat fish?). Add these eight spots to your bucket list if you know what’s good for you.
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Boka Restaurant Group and chef Giuseppe Tentori's hotly anticipated beefy follow-up to GT Fish & Oyster has finally arrived, and we can safely assert that it was worth the wait. The dreamy, cabin-inspired space is punctuated with surreal taxidermy, furry bar stools, moody food photographs, and a glitzy chandelier, making for an atmosphere that is at once cozy and glamorous. Unlike other steakhouses, virtually everything on the menu is designed for sharing, including a rotating selection of meats, like venison loin, ribeye, and wagyu sirloin, which are only available in sliced 4oz and 8oz portions. Order a few to share, and team them with dishes like a stacked tomato, jumbo lump crab, and burrata salad, maple butter lacquered Brussels sprouts, and mortadella arancini.
Old Irving Park
The brainchild of the late, great chef Homaro Cantu has finally come of life, and dream team Trevor Rose-Hamblin, Jeff Linnemeyer, and Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, Yusho, A10) are at the helm. Brewmaster Rose-Hamblin has created six house drafts, including Scentinel, a 7.7 ABV IPA that emits an aroma of grapefruit, lychee, and mango, while Merges, alongside chef Michael Schrader, oversees the food. Here, you’ll find all things wood-fired: steak frites, seafood salad, prawns, chicken sandwich, double-cut pork chop, and more.
New from husband-wife team David Condon and Anna Makmok, (formerly of Anna’s Asian Bistro in West Loop), this Asian barbecue concept brings Japanese, Korean, and Thai flavors together in a grill-your-own-meat format. The menu spans from Korean chicken wings and vegetarian egg rolls to pho and handmade udon, but the restaurant’s main draw is undeniably the table-side barbecue, which features premium cuts of beef, poultry, pork, seafood, and even a tofu-based vegetarian option for those who prefer to go meatless.
South Siders can finally get in on a piece of this Mexican sandwich shop’s delicious action without having to make the trek North, thanks to the brand’s third outpost, which opened in the former Packed space earlier this month. Unlike the other locations, the Hyde Park shop opens early with a breakfast menu and remains open until midnight every night but Sundays so that the late-night crowd can score mini cemitas, tacos, and more.
In other expansion news, Footman Hospitality has introduced a third location of its popular sausage and beer concept. Guests can expect that restaurant’s signature 20-tap rotating beer lineup and favorites like the duck BLT made with duck sausage, tomato-bacon chutney, lettuce, and garlic aioli, as well as new dishes, including the “sausage and peppers” featuring spicy Italian, bell peppers, onions, marinara, and crispy polenta and traditional bangers and mash. The space also promises a forthcoming brunch menu, so stay tuned.
This sweeping Filipino supermarket is a veritable food lover's paradise: it’s packed full with groceries, specialty items, and hard-to-find ingredients you’ll be hard-pressed to source elsewhere, and lays claim to a handful of counter-service Filipino restaurants for a food fix on-the-go. Stop by Grill City for skewered meats, Crispy Town for fried morsels like lumpia and crispy chicken skin, and Noodle Street for noodle soups and dim sum. Jollibee also plans to open within the store later this year.
Come for the impressive craft beer program and stay for the well-executed pub fare at this whimsical Alice in Wonderland-themed bar, which comes complete with a portrait of the White Rabbit on one of its walls, live band karaoke on Wednesdays, and games like Jenga and large-scale Pictionary. The ever-changing beer list runs 24 taps deep, with plenty of canned and bottled brews to fill in the gaps, while the menu highlights a small selection of saucy wings, a “1951” burger (a nod to when the Disney adaptation of Carroll’s masterpiece was released), a “Queen of Hearts” salad, and “Jabberwock” Angus sliders.
Although this independently owned sandwich shop showcases Boar’s Head deli meats, it’s not actually directly affiliated with the New York-based brand. Stop in for La Colombe coffee, hearty soups and salads, and artisan sandwiches like the bold turkey club, the café Italian, and a prosciutto di Parma number with fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, toasted tomatoes, organic olive oil, and aged balsamic.
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1. GT Prime707 N Wells St, Chicago
2. Old Irving Brewing Co.4419 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
3. Ryuu Asian BBQ2766 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
4. Cemitas Puebla1321 E 57th St, Chicago
5. Bangers & Lace1851 W Addison St, Chicago
6. Seafood City Supermarket5033 N Elston Ave, Chicago
7. The Rabbit Hole1208 N Wells Rd, Chicago
8. Boar's Head Cafe210 W Lake St, Chicago
GT Prime resolves the Achilles’ heel that most American steakhouses can’t seem to shake: positively unshareable cuts of meat. The River North brainchild of Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster offers the oh-so-simple solution of 4oz and 8oz versions of cuts like beef filet, Wagyu sirloin, bison filet, and venison loin. While you’re on that small plates grind, taste hot or cold options like the grain salad or the tomato salad with burrata. With prices far more reasonable than your typical steakhouse and décor like charcoal-colored wood and fur-covered bar stools sexy enough to make you swoon, there’s really no reason this shouldn’t be your next date spot.
Chicago’s Old Irving Brewing celebrates fun, friends, beer, and, perhaps most significantly, the life of Homaru Cantu, head brewer Trevor Rose-Hamblin’s departed colleague who initiated the construction of a brewpub in Old Irving Park. The 8,500-square-foot brewery is a watering hole for locals thanks to its Montrose CTA Blue Line stop, and the six homemade brews on tap make this a commonplace post-work stop for Northwest Suburban commuters. And why wouldn’t you end your day with a Precinct, which has hints of coffee and donuts, a Scentinel, an award-winning IPA, or both? If it’s fun you’re craving, head to the games room, where rounds of cornhole play on repeat. With a laid-back, casual atmosphere and shareable plates like crunchy pork rinds, ale battered salt cod fritters, and wood-fired steak frites, Old Irving Brewing is a must-visit.
Every table at Chicago’s Ryuu Asian BBQ is embedded with a circular Japanese-style smokeless grill, and for good reason. The aim is to immerse diners in the experience of cooking Japanese, Korean, and Thai cuisine to celebrate an American food world that has broken cultural boundaries. Partners David Condon and Anna Makmok created a menu spanning from Korean chicken wings and Laotian curry noodle to chicken satay and pork, among other Asian fusion specialties. While your wallet won’t have many complaints about Ryuu’s reasonable price point, the highlight of the meal is undoubtedly cooking your own food; roll up your sleeves and let it sizzle.
The Hyde Park outpost of Cemitas Puebla is the third Chicago installment of this family-owned Mexican spot that specializes in Poblano foods. Owner Tony Anteliz frequently visits Oaxaca for authentic Mexican cheese and other goods, and he crafts the signature Cemita sandwich with Krakus ham, guajillo-rubbed pork loin, and breaded pork milanesa, all topped with avocado, smoky chipotles, and Oaxacan string cheese. The joint's salsas and chipotles (made in-house) are not to be missed.
The Roscoe Village outpost of craft beer and sausage haven Bangers & Lace serves up just that: delicious craft suds from a 20-tap rotating beer lineup, and sausage creations including kielbasa skewers and Louisiana-style hot links. The extensive food menu features build-a-biscuit breakfast sandwiches at brunch, and house favorites like a duck sausage BLT.
You'll actually want to get lost inside this enormous Filipino supermarket, because you'll be surrounded by rare and specialty items, all the groceries you could ever want, and a few counter-service restaurants. The goal of Seafood City, which has a handful of locations across the country, is to provide a point of community for Filipino-Americans in the area, and that it is -- this 87,000 square-foot space is like heaven for Filipino food lovers. If you're looking for a to-go meal, stop by Grill City for skewered meats, Crispy Town for fried morsels like lumpia and crispy chicken skin, and Noodle Street for noodle soups and dim sum.
Don't be late for a very important date to this whimsical, loosely Alice in Wonderland-themed bar in Old Town, which sports a portrait of the White Rabbit who sang that famed Alice tune on one of its walls. Beyond the decor, games like Jenga and Pictionary keep things light and jovial, as do locals who come to enjoy the rotating beer list that runs 24 taps deep, with 20 canned and bottled brews on the side. Pub-style eats include a small selection of saucy chicken wings, a “1951” burger (a nod to when the Disney adaptation of Carroll’s masterpiece was released), a “Queen of Hearts” salad, and “Jabberwock” Angus sliders. Whether you fell down the rabbit hole or came here intentionally to watch the big game one of the 10 flat-screens above the bar, you'll be glad you did.
A small, independently owned cafe in the Loop, Boar’s Head exclusively features the namesake deli meats that customers favor in grocery stores across the country, using them in artisan sandwiches and at its custom sandwich bar. There's La Colombe coffee up for grabs at this spot, too, plus plenty of soups and salads. Of the pre-designed sandwich options, some standouts include the turkey club, the café Italian, and a prosciutto di Parma with fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, toasted tomatoes, organic olive oil, and aged balsamic. Just for the record: it's not affiliated with the actual Boar's Head company or any of its cafes and delis in various US airports.