Hungry? Why wait? Grab a Snickers. And, like, some other food and drink, especially if it comes from one of these: Chicago's eight best new bars and restaurants to open in January, from a so-hot-right-now Tiki bar to a highly anticipated spot in the old Hot Doug’s space.
Chicago Tiki mogul Paul McGee (formerly of Three Dots and a Dash) brings a taste of French Polynesia to Logan Square with his latest venture, the casual-cool Lost Lake. The bar is considerably more laid back than its River North predecessor (thank you, leafy wallpaper and a cabana-style thatched ceiling) -- expect a mix of Tiki classics, some new rum-soaked sippers, and a few old Three Dots favorites like Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri.
After a short stint as a BYO wine bar (oh, sweet irony), this quaint Taylor St find now brandishes a shiny new liquor license and some 135 wines to go along with it. Despite its location, you’ll find that the wine list spans far beyond just Italian varietals. Pick a bottle that suits your taste and pair it with a BLT3 (pancetta, prosciutto, and applewood-smoked bacon) or line-caught yellowfin tuna encrusted in coriander, splashed with a bouillabaisse vinaigrette, and finished with chickpeas.
Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn just opened a Chicago outpost of his popular East Coast-based burger and shake shop, and it's loaded with favorites off menus at other locations as well as some new items made with Chicago in mind. And, in case you were wondering, yes, Mendelsohn’s 2014 Hamburger Hop-winning "Prez Obama Burger" with Gorgonzola, red onion marmalade, and horseradish mayo made the menu’s final cut.
Wicker Park’s beloved sausage and craft beer haven goes suburban with a 130-seat Evanston location that’s just as awesome as the original. The space features a rotating list of 32 beers on tap as well as the same sausages and small plates we all know and love, including a goat link with caramelized pear, grilled endive, and whipped feta, crispy Wisconsin cheese curds, and a soft shell crab po’ boy.
Throwback Italian restaurant offering everything from giardiniera fritta to rigatoni alla vodka to a jaw-dropping 42-oz prime bistecca fiorentina? Check. Adjacent old-school sandwich shop serving mortadella dogs and meatball subs? Ah... check! It’s been a big month for the team behind The Bristol, and an even bigger month for West Loopers looking for hearty dishes that're as delicious as they are massive.
At long last, out of Hot Doug’s metaphorical ashes rises a casual burger joint boasting a secret off-menu duck foie gras sausage burger stacked with tart cherries and foie mousse, and you have the gents behind Fatso’s Last Stand and Lockdown to thank for it. Also of note: duck fat fries that’ll only be available once a week, a Chicago flag-inspired paint job around the perimeter of the storefront, a char-grilled salami sandwich, and a fittingly named, double-patty "Ooey Gooey" burger stuffed with cheddar and topped with Fatso Sauce and grilled onions.
Assuming you’ve caught wind of the buzz surrounding the recent Virgin Hotel opening, it's time you caught some MORE wind of The Commons Club, a sprawling restaurant and bar inside the swanky new hotel. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, but the dinner menu’s Eye of the Ribeye with a black truffle “tattoo” and a side of bone marrow mac & cheese is a can’t-miss.
In addition to bringing us a second Bangers & Lace location, the good people at Footman Hospitality have also been busy opening The Betty, a casual neighborhood tavern with an upscale edge right next door to The Publican. The space is peppered with retro accents like bookcases stacked high with vinyl albums, while the menu is loaded with craft cocktails like the frothy Age of Enlightenment (with aged pisco, Scotch, lime, spiced syrup, egg white, and a red wine float), plus shareable small plates run the gamut from guanciale-topped flat bread to squid salad.
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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a food blogger, bacon enthusiast, and devout user of the Oxford comma. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
1. Lost Lake3154 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
2. Bascule Wine Bar1421 W Taylor, Chicago
3. Good Stuff Eatery22 S Wabash Ave, Chicago
4. Bangers & Lace810 Grove St, Evanston
5. Formento's925 W Randolph St, Chicago
6. Nonna's Sandwiches and Sundries925 W Randolph St, Chicago
7. Frank Meats Patty3324 N California Ave, Chicago
8. The Commons Club203 N Wabash, Chicago
9. The Betty839 W Fulton Market, Chicago
Chicago Tiki mogul Paul McGee (of Three Dots and a Dash) is behind Lost Lake, a temple to all things Polynesian in Logan Square. The cocktail bar serves rum-soaked classics and originals, including daily daiquiri specials and group punches, in tiki mugs and volcano bowls. Decorated like the original Don's Beachcomber Cafe, Lost Lake is decked out with banana leaf wallpaper and thatched bamboo but doesn't have the kitschy vibe of many tiki bars.
This quaint Taylor Street find brandishes some 135 wines. Despite its location, you’ll find that the wine list spans far beyond just Italian varietals. Pick a bottle that suits your taste and pair it with a BLT3 (pancetta, prosciutto, and applewood smoked bacon) or line-caught yellowfin tuna, encrusted in coriander, splashed with a bouillabaisse vinaigrette, and finished with chickpeas.
Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn opened this Chicago outpost of his popular East Coast-based burger and shake shop, and it's loaded with favorites from menus at other locations, as well as some new items made with Chicago in mind.
Wicker Park’s beloved sausage and craft beer haven went suburban with this 130-seat Evanston location that’s just as awesome as the original. The space features a rotating list of 32 beers on tap, as well as their much-loved sausages and small plates.
Executive Chef Stephen Wambach heads up this bright and expansive Italian restaurant. His menu keeps things classic, offering quality dishes like a four-cheese tortellini and a prosciutto-wrapped veal filet. The white tablecloths add to the traditional feel of the space, and collect crumbs from Formento's must-try chocolate layer cake. No, really, try it -- it comes with chocolate pudding frosting and hazelnut praline.
Formento's grab-and-go adjacent counterpart serves casual Italian-American dishes like a hearty signature meatball sub. The made-to-order sandwich features gargantuan, house-made meatballs covered in marinara, mozzarella, and giardiniera nestled inside a crusty baguette.
This casual burger joint boasts a secret off-menu duck foie gras sausage burger, stacked with tart cherries and foie mousse. Also of note: duck fat fries that are only be available once a week and a Chicago flag-inspired paint job around the perimeter of the storefront.
The Commons Club is a sprawling restaurant and bar inside the swanky Virgin Hotel. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, but the dinner menu’s eye of the ribeye with a black truffle “tattoo” and a side of bone marrow mac ‘n’ cheese is a can’t-miss.
Right next to The Publican, this neighborhood tavern in West Loop is upscale enough to impress clients but casual enough to take a first date. The dimly lit, rustic space is decorated with vinyl-stacked bookcases and red leather sofas, and something about the retro vibe creates a perfect ambience to drink fancy cocktails and small bites than run the gamut from chicken liver mousse to pierogies. Drinks range in price -- there's 23-year Pappy Van Winkle, but there are also half-price beers when the happy hour time is right.