The Blackhawks’ dynasty-clinching Stanley Cup win isn’t the only good fortune that’s fallen on Chicago this spring, we’ve also welcomed dozens of great new restaurants and bars. Here, a look at the 13 best spots that just opened up.
Chicago’s 13 Best New Bars and Restaurants From Spring
Meat reigns at this new protein-focused concept from the folks behind Heating & Cooling and Mexique. The menu features cuts of meat that a butcher would serve to family and friends, such as a pork cheek torta, lamb shank, and ginger beer-braised beef neck; a smattering of veggie-heavy dishes like the roasted radish salad with grilled peach, roquette, and poppy seed dressing round things out. Also be on the lookout for the Cochon Brunch featuring pork sold by the pound and a “night owl” menu packed with everything from duck heart nuggets to a lamb merguez hot dog.
At long last, the Virgin Hotel Chicago is now completely open, including its swanky rooftop bar. The sweeping space spans the full width of the hotel and comes equipped with a terrace that wraps around three sides. Grab some friends and stop up for a pitcher of Virgin Summer Cup (Bombay gin, vermouth, St. Germain, raspberry, verbena, cucumber, and lemon soda; serves four to six) and a swath of shareable, izakaya-inspired morsels, such as “hot mame” edamame with bacon and ghost pepper, beef short rib sliders, hamachi sashimi, and more.
A new Peruvian restaurant finally lands on the North Side, complete with ceviches, causitas, wok-fried beef tenderloin, Inca Cola, and more. Thirsty? Try one (or three) of the 14 pisco-infused drinks, like the frothy pisco habanero sour.
The recently revived hotel by Millennium Park houses four bar/restaurant concepts worth hitting up. There’s a rooftop view and uncanny meatballs in Cindy’s, meat carts and custom cocktails in Cherry Circle Room, beer pitchers and bocce in Game Room, and Shake Shack in... well, the Shake Shack.
Billed as one of Chicago’s biggest rooftops, this 9,000sqft oasis atop the Loews Chicago Hotel slings cocktails and eats every bit as impressive as its cityscape views. Edibles include a variety of upmarket spins on street food, like an oyster po-boy with cioppino broth, chorizo, and garlic aioli and grilled chicken thigh bánh mì served with cucumber salad and spicy mayo, while dozens of wines, a small selection of domestic and imported beers, and handcrafted cocktails -- including a handful of “old school tiki remixes" -- make up the beverage program.
Just when you thought the culinary marvel known as the taco couldn’t get any better, lively Barcocina enters with game-changing “cheeseburger” tacos stuffed with ground beef, smoked cheddar, cabbage, and sweet & tangy mango “catsup.” The casual resto sports a few retractable garage doors that offer a breezy, open-air feel, and more than a few Mexican-informed offerings; standouts include guacamole topped with Oaxaca cheese and pasilla lime balsamic sauce, duck confit arepas, skillet-baked jalapeño cornbread teamed with maple butter, and sweet, smoky, and spicy cocktails.
Anglo-Indian fare is the name of the game at this British-style pub that’s set up shop in the former SmallBar space on Division. Curb those hangry feelings (hey, it happens to the best of us) with a spread of garlic naan, samosas, lamb dumplings, and cider-braised rabbit pie; wash it all down with a summery mango lassi and a pick off the world-class beer list.
Devoid of pretension yet bursting with outstanding wines and globally inspired comestibles, Ampersand is the embodiment of everything a great wine bar should be. The come-as-you-are atmosphere begs for you to sit and stay a while; dishes like burrata with duck prosciutto and arugula, Calabrian pork cheek with pearl onion agrodolce and heirloom tomato, and roasted asparagus with salsa verde demand it.
Following the red-hot West Loop opening back in May, Chicago welcomes its second Nando’s outpost to Lakeview, and anticipates a third to arrive in Lincoln Park this fall. The South Africa-born chain is famous for peri-peri chicken that’s been marinated for 24 hours, flame-grilled, and basted in your choice of sauces.
This 20,000sqft steampunk-themed arcade and gastropub ups the ante with more than 130 different games -- including SEGA’s never-before-seen Showdown -- a six-hole miniature golf course, comfort food ranging from “meatball-loaf” Parmigiana and hand-battered mini corn dogs to a variety of poutines and sliders, a full lineup of whimsical cocktails, and 32 craft beers. If you’re a ticket-collecting fiend, there are over 250 prizes waiting to be won.
Outfitted with tasteful maritime decor and teal banquette seating, this seafood spot from the Scofflaw guys effortlessly bridges the gap between neighborhood hang and upscale dining destination. Small bites like smoked roe, cured egg, and onion caramel on brioche, monkfish liver torchon, and a selection of oysters (including bivalves paired with Scofflaw Old Tom Gin) are pitch perfect, and just as you’d expect, the cocktail program is equal parts inventive and classic, and wholly well executed.
After an electrical fire closed it down for five weeks, The Winchester has finally reopened, and promises to be better than ever. Local businesses helped raise funds to fix the damage and get the restaurant back on its feet, and Executive Chef Greg Bastien has revamped the menu, which brandishes summer vegetable lasagna, seed-crusted lake trout, and the always-in-demand liege waffles.
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1. Son of a Butcher2934 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
2. Cerise203 N Wabash, Chicago
3. Via Lima4024 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
4. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
5. Streeterville Social455 N Park Dr, Chicago
6. Barcocina2901 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
7. Pub Royale2049 W Division, Chicago
8. Ampersand Wine Bar4845 N Damen Ave, Chicago
9. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que923 W Weed St, Chicago
10. For the Win322 E Illinois St, Chicago
11. Sink | Swim3213 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
12. The Winchester1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago
After closing for renovations in Spring 2016 and re-opening under new management from popular brunch locale WHISK, Son of Butcher touts a new, industrial-chic look and a revamped food menu. Meat still reigns supreme here, with highlights ranging from braised brisket barbeque sliders and full racks of St. Louis ribs, but there's a new smattering of salads, sandwiches, vegetarian light bites, and a solid brunch menu (pro tip: get the decadent and Instagram-worthy S'mOreos pancakes). Bar offerings focus on craft beers, but the specialty cocktails boast quirky names and eclectic liquors ("Brexit Strategy," anyone?), with the added bonus of curated wines by the glass and regional ciders.
Perched atop the swanky Virgin Hotel Chicago is the even swankier rooftop bar, Cerise. The sweeping space spans the full width of the hotel and comes equipped with a terrace that wraps around three sides. Stop by for drinks and the shareable Izakaya inspired snacks including “hot mame” edamame with bacon and ghost pepper, beef short rib sliders and Hamachi sashimi.
Via Lima brought Peruvian food to the north side with a menu complete with ceviches, causitas, wok-fried beef tenderloin, Inka Cola, and more.
Following a 2015 renovation, this historical building transformed into a boutique hotel with several food and drink options, including a patio-equipped Shake Shack and a rooftop restaurant with views of Millennium Park. The epic game room has bocce and shuffleboard courts, a pool table, and foosball, while the restaurant, Cherry Circle Room, serves a beef-centric menu and tableside cocktails.
At 9,000-sq.-ft., Streeterville Social is one of Chicago's largest rooftops perched atop the Loews Chicago Hotel. The cocktails are just as impressive as the view and the eats include a variety of upmarket spins on street food, like an oyster po’boy with cioppino broth, chorizo, and garlic aioli and grilled chicken thigh bahn mi served with cucumber salad and spicy mayo.
The Chicago outpost of this Baltimore-based Mexican-inspired concept arrives with an airy, wood-accented space flooded with natural light and rigged with ample patio space. The menu includes plenty of favorites from the original spot, like cheeseburger tacos and lobster guacamole, as well as some brand new and thematically on-point dishes spanning from pork belly rebocado and lamb French dip tacos to an array of spicy, smoky, and sweet cocktails prime for all-day-sipping in the sunshine.
This beer-driven bar from the good people at Heisler Hospitality (Bar DeVille, Nightwood, Sportsmans Club) has plenty of Indian-inspired eats, like lamb dumplings, salt cod samosas, a chicken tikka kati roll, and buttered paneer, a dash of taxidermied decorations, and a curated beer list.
Without pretentiousness, Ampersand Wine Bar is bursting with outstanding wines and globally inspired comestibles. The atmosphere is casual and the food (which includes burrata with duck prosciutto and arugula, Calabrian pork cheek with pearl onion agrodolce and heirloom tomato, and roasted asparagus with salsa verde) will keep you satiated well into the next bottle.
This New York-based franchise produces of some of the finest barbecue North of the Mason-Dixon line. Its Chicago spot is a massive, two-level storefront in Lincoln Park with special only-in-Chicago menu items like the Pork 3-Way.
Yes, it's an arcade for adults and, yes, it's beyond awesome. This 20,000-sq.ft. steampunk themed arcade and gastropub ups the ante with more than 130 different gamesa six-hole miniature golf course, comfort food ranging from “meatball-loaf” parmigiana and hand-battered mini corn dogs to a variety of poutiness and sliders. Not to mention a full list of cocktails and craft beers.
From the good people that brought you the gin-focused Scofflaw and the dance-ready Slippery Slope, nautical-themed Sink|Swim proves its seafood game is on point with affordable yet refreshingly inspired offerings like a shrimp toast tea sandwich and monkfish liver torchon. As for the digs? Charming, with whitewashed walls, teal tufted seats, and framed ocean-themed paintings hung along the perimeter.
Serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Winchester features a rotating seasonal menu with market-fresh ingredients. Local ingredients always make for a more satisfying and delicious meal.