See, not everything about winter sucks. From an Argentinean steakhouse to an innovative, ever-changing concept in Lincoln Park, these are the 12 biggest restaurant and bar openings of winter, all of which you can spend spring getting to know a little bit better.

Thank You.

Lost Lake/Thank You

Logan Square
The newest concepts from Land and Sea Dept. (Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Longman & Eagle) are, combined, Logan Square’s new “it” destination for causal Tiki drinking and take-out Chinese. With local Tiki legend Paul McGee (formerly of Three Dots and a Dash) behind the beverage program, Lost Lake offers a mix of classic and remixed cocktails like Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri (complete with dolphin-fashioned-out-of-banana garnish), souvenir glasses, and a cool, laid-back vibe. Neighboring Thank You is also brilliant by design. Post-imbibing, soak-up-all-that-rum egg rolls, Mongolian beef, and fried rice await you.

Rural Society

Rural Society

Streeterville
Brought to you by native Chicagoan and 'Iron Chef" Jose Garces (Mercat a la Planxa), this Argentinean steakhouse concept opened in the new Loews Chicago hotel following the success of Garces’ DC-based restaurant of the same name. Firewood and iron and rope chandeliers punctuate the interior, while an open kitchen with a wood-and-charcoal-burning parrilla grill stands as the focal point of both the space and the menu. You'll revel in wood-grilled ribeye and bone-in short rib, while those who aren’t so red meat-inclined/uhh... also those who are?... may opt for crab-stuffed cannelloni, with charred squid and grilled, aged Provolone with arugula, oregano, and aji picante.

American WildBurger

American WildBurger

Near North
This Des Plaines-based fast-casual burger joint has expanded to the city, taking up residence in a small storefront near the Division and Halsted intersection. The menu features a selection of signature burgers like the Old School-inspired “You’re My Boy Bleu,” featuring a naturally raised beef patty, tomato, grilled onions, lettuce, bleu cheese, bacon, and mushrooms on a pretzel bun, as well as an option to craft your own burger. Not into burgers? No problem, weirdo! It also slings eats like a Texas Toast BLT, char dogs, and a Southwest stuffed avocado.

Formento's

Formento's/Nonna's

West Loop
This buzzworthy Italian restaurant and adjoining counter-service sandwich shop hit Randolph St with a double-dose of marinara-drenched deliciousness this winter. Settle in at the former for old-school-meets-new-school Italian eats like the popular relish tray packing bite-size sweet potato cannoli and beets with a colossal slice of chocolate layer cake. Or pick up a hearty chicken Parmesan sub for lunch on the go at the latter.

Seven Lions Chicago

Seven Lions

Loop
Alpana Singh’s follow-up to James Beard semi-finalist The Boarding House proves to be just the casually elegant oasis South Michigan Ave has been looking for. The American clubhouse-informed dinner menu boasts re-imagined classics like beef carpaccio with fried shallots and garlic chips, as well as a wild boar chop with bourbon BBQ sauce, charred leeks, and figs -- not to mention straightforward favorites like oysters Rockefeller and a supremely juicy Seven Lions cheeseburger. The weekend brunch service is also on point, with a variety of creative pancake and eggs Benedict options to pair with a stacked lineup of hair-of-the-dog cocktails.

Intro

Intro

Lincoln Park
If early word on this innovative concept is any indication, closing fine dining resto L20 and charting new culinary territory with Intro was a smart move on the Lettuce Entertain You crew’s part. The beautiful new space will play host to a rotating list of some of the nation’s brightest and most talented chefs, beginning with California’s own CJ Jacobson. Each “chef-in-residence” will craft a unique menu representative of his/her own style, and will also have a say in the ambiance and service. Currently, Jacobson’s five-course menu -- which has already received great critical acclaim from... us -- focuses on fresh, foraged ingredients.

Furious Spoon

Furious Spoon

Wicker Park
Lined with communal seating on one side and a reclaimed wood ramen bar on the other, this tiny ramen concept has dual jet packed to popularity in the short time it’s been open. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the shop’s polarizing, ladle-like spoons accompany each bowl of ramen and set Furious Spoon apart from the noodle pack. A short but sweet menu features the soul-warming signature Furious Ramen, which is loaded with spicy miso, beef brisket, cha-sui, toroniku, a poached egg, marinated mushrooms, and garlic relish along with a swath of optional toppings. Meanwhile, a small variety of Japanese beers helps cool things down.

Good Stuff Eatery

Good Stuff Eatery

Loop
The Chicago outpost of Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s eco-conscious burger chain is an oasis in the Loop’s fast-casual desert, except, instead of palm trees, it's got thick, creamy toasted marshmallow shakes, the 2014 Hamburger Hop-winning Prez Obama burger, and mountains of hand-cut fries.

The Drifter Chicago

The Drifter

River North
Historic space? Check. Tarot card-inspired cocktail? Check. Eccentric nightly entertainment? Check. This new basement-level former speakeasy/cocktail bar has all that and more. Score creative sips crafted by partner/mixologist Liz Pearce (The Drawing Room, The Gage) like the absinthe-based Suisse Abyss (with crème de cacao, simple syrup, and homemade whipped cream), as well as a small selection of beer and wine. The 45-seat space houses plenty of charmingly dusty vintage décor, along with a stage set for a variety of entertainment acts ranging from burlesque dancers to musicians and everything in between (burlesque musicians?).

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Da Lobsta

River North
This multi-location, fast-casual lobster roll eatery added River North to its growing roster of locations in early February. The new BYOB space sports exposed bricks and light fixtures made of upcycled lobster traps, can comfortably seat about 20 people, and offers the chain’s full lineup of classic and traditional lobsta rolls, sandwiches, salads, and mac & cheese. Expect a small patio to open as weather improves. It'll improve, right? RIGHT?!?!?

Presidio

Presidio

Bucktown
This cocktail-focused lounge in the old Bluebird space keeps things California breezy with exposed brick walls, plush couches and chairs, and a West Coast-leaning beverage program. Pick your poison from a selection of CA wines, beers, and cocktails inspired by Bay Area classics such as the Tommy’s Margarita and Pisco Punch. The food menu (crafted by Chef Shaun Connolly) is similarly influenced, with California-grown ingredients like sunchokes, kumquats, and Meyer lemon adding interesting touches to dishes like scallops, wild salmon, and olive oil cake.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Wicker Park
Rest easy, Wicker Park. Your girl Jeni heard your screams for ice cream and now she’s answering with a brand-new scoop shop right in your ‘hood. Much like the Southport outpost, the Milwaukee Ave shop offers the complete lineup of made-from-scratch haute ice creams, frozen yogurts, and ice cream sandwiches, as well as French press Intelligentsia coffee and to-go pints and sandwiches.

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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.

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1. Lost Lake 3154 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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2. Rural Society 455 N. Park Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 (Streeterville)

Rural Society in Streeterville's Loews Hotel is not a classic, all-American steakhouse but an innovative Argentinian one from former 'Iron Chef' Jose Garces. The Chicago restaurant, which opened following the success of the DC original, is a bonafide meat emporium where South American-sourced cuts of beef (ribeye, bone-in short rib) are cooked on a wood-and-charcoal burning parilla grill. Aside from the stunning steaks, Rural Society serves tapas-like small plates and house-made sausages.

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3. American Wildburger 1550 E Oakton St, Chicago, IL 60018 (Near North Side)

This Near North outpost of the Des Plaines-based fast-casual burger joint is located in a small storefront near the Division and Halsted intersection. The menu features a selection of signature burgers like the "You’re My Boy Bleu," featuring a naturally raised beef patty, tomato, grilled onions, lettuce, bleu cheese, bacon, and mushrooms on a pretzel bun -- as well as an option to craft your own burger. Not into burgers? It also slings eats like char dogs and a Southwest stuffed avocado.

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4. Formento's 925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

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.

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5. Seven Lions 130 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

Elegant yet approachable, this new American clubhouse concept from Master Sommelier Alpana Singh (The Boarding House) is exactly what its Michigan Ave space called for. Chef Chris Curren’s menu is equal parts accessible and inspired, with starters ranging from fried chicken skins and pickles paired with sriracha mustard to Brussels sprout and burrata toast. Entrées run the gamut from comforting short ribs to perfectly flaky black cod with acorn squash, ricotta gnocchi, and Maitake mushrooms. And don't worry, there's alcohol, starting with Singh’s curated list of all-American wines.

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6. Intro 2300 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Intro has a roster of "chefs-in-residence" that rotates every few months, bringing a completely new menu, focus, and experience to the table each rotation.

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7. Furious Spoon 1571 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Shin Thompson's small-but-mighty Furious Spoon in Wicker Park stands well above the rest of Chicago's ramen shops for its bowls of handmade noodle soups. The menu features a few kinds of ramen with suggested toppings, like the house apple chili sauce. The signature Furious Ramen, a soul-warming blend of tonkotsu broth and spicy miso, pairs well with a Surly Furious Beer. The restaurant is sleek and narrow with a minimalist, artsy vibe that fits in perfectly with the trendy neighborhood.

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8. Good Stuff Eatery 22 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

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.

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9. The Drifter Chicago 678 N. Orleans, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

The Drifter is an intimate basement-level former speakeasy/cocktail bar with eccentric nightly entertainment and a tarot card-inspired cocktail menu. Located below the Green Door Tavern (which was an actual speakeasy during Prohibition), its burlesque shows goes down quick and dirty with no announcement and no advance warning on a small stage that makes it feel like the show is just for you. Members of the Chicago Starlets shake their stuff in between musicians and variety acts amidst charming, vintage décor.

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10. Da Lobsta 416 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This multi-location, fast-casual lobster roll eatery's BYOB space sports exposed bricks and light fixtures made of upcycled lobster traps, can comfortably seat about 20 people, and offers the chain’s full lineup of classic and traditional lobsta rolls, sandwiches, salads, and mac & cheese. Grab a seat on the small patio when the weather allows.

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11. Presidio 1749 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

This cocktail-focused lounge in the old Bluebird space keeps things California breezy with exposed brick walls, plush couches and chairs, and a West Coast-leaning beverage program. Pick your poison from a selection of CA wines, beers, and cocktails inspired by Bay Area classics such as the Tommy’s Margarita and Pisco Punch. The food menu (crafted by Chef Shaun Connolly) is similarly influenced, with California-grown ingredients like sunchokes, kumquats, and Meyer lemon adding interesting touches to dishes like scallops, wild salmon, and olive oil cake.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams 1505 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Much like the Southport outpost, the Milwaukee Ave shop offers Jeni's complete lineup of made-from-scratch haute ice creams, frozen yogurts, and ice cream sandwiches, as well as French press Intelligentsia coffee and to-go pints and sandwiches.

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