Derek Richmond

Publican Anker

Wicker Park

This spinoff of Paul Kahan's lauded West Loop concept joins fellow One Off Hospitality concepts Big Star, Dove's Luncheonette, and The Violet Hour on a bustling stretch of Wicker Park real estate. Hyper-seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients are the name of chef de cuisine AJ Walker's (Publican Quality Meats) culinary game; highlights include The Publican's signature pork rinds dusted with white cheddar and malt vinegar, grilled delicata squash with endive, pistachio, and Pantaleo cheese, and half-roasted chicken with hash browns, curly endive, and anchovy. You’ll also find a carefully curated beer program (not unlike The Publican) and rotating selection of house-made ice cream, like coffee pretzel toffee and pumpkin cajeta swirl.

Ronero

West Loop

Pulling influence from Latin America, Cuba, and the Caribbean, this eclectic restaurant and rum-soaked speakeasy is a worthy escape from Chicago's cruel winter, no passport necessary. Sip creative twists on daiquiris, juleps, and caipirinhas, and soak it all up with albondigas, ceviches, coxinhas, and more.

Courtesy of Elske

Elske

West Loop

Husband and wife dream team chefs Anna and David Posey have joined forces to bring a fresh fine-dining concept to the hottest dining neighborhood in the city. Its Danish name translates to "love," and highlights the Posey's commitment to not only each other, but to hospitality and simple yet elegant cuisine, as well. Explore an $80 tasting menu that showcases David's prowess on the savory side and Anna's on the sweet, as well as plentiful a la carte options. Offerings will change regularly, and include refined bites like grilled carrot with mussel cream and sherry, slow roasted beef brisket with creamed Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and veal sweetbreads with cabbages and golden raisins.

The Flamingo Rum Club

Flamingo Rum Club

River North

The concept that's been causing a buzz for months over its vibrant flamingo mural-clad facade has, at long last, opened its doors. Rum-focused mixology and cabaret collide in epic fashion, and are best washed down with Caribbean-inspired plates like rum braised ropa vieja, lamb empanadas, fresh oysters, and other shareable eats.

Bar Roma

Bar Roma

Andersonville

With its exposed brick walls, rustic wood accents, and mosaic-style flooring, this casual Italian spot is just the sort of cozy, meatball-centric oasis the North Side neighborhood has needed. Continue to sculpt that winter bod with braised beef cheek and spicy pork belly-based meatballs, classic cacio e pepe, dark chocolate and cherry bread pudding, and all the cannoli your stomach can handle.

Courtesy of Carbon Arc Bar & Board

Carbon Arc Bar & Board

Lincoln Square

After a nearly year-long closure for renovations, Lincoln Square's historic Davis Theater has finally reopened, and with it, a sleek new restaurant that slings theater-friendly bites (think: Korean barbecue tacos, mushroom flatbread with truffle white sauce, and kid-approved chicken "movie strips"), as well as more sizable entrees, like Chalkboard Chicken with biscuits, white sausage gravy, and cabbage slaw. The space also pours small-batch cocktails, wine, and local craft suds, which, in our humble opinion, only enhances the movie-going experience.

Kailley Lindman/Thrillist

Dox Quality Greek

Wicker Park

The guys behind popular fast-casual eatery Greek Kitchen expand their small but mighty Greek food empire with this chef-driven counter-service spot at the neighborhood's most bustling intersection. Intricate woodwork, grey stucco walls, and pops of blue provide an airy backdrop for noshing on kalamakia, avocado hummus, colorful salads, and more. A short but sweet beverage program promises craft beer, Greek wines by the glass and carafe, and a few cocktails, too.

Eden, Hallie Duesenberg Photography

Eden

West Loop

Pre-game a visit to the United Center to cheer on the home team with Mediterranean-inspired eats at this cozy spot from the folks behind Paramount Events, one of Chicago's preeminent catering companies. The space is clad in whitewashed walls and light, distressed wood flooring, and is accented with green chairs and booths and plants that nod to the restaurant's idyllic garden namesake. Indulge (hey, the original sin has already been committed, people!) in everything from umami donuts and braised duck lasagna with mustard greens, mirepoix, bechamel braise, citrus, and puffed wild rice, to chestnut Mont Blanc.

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1. Publican Anker 1576 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

The Wicker Park iteration of The Publican is modeled after the 20th century saloons that once stood in the neighborhood. Similar to its meat-centric sibling, Publican Anker is fueled by craft beer, oysters, and a burger that ranks among Chicago's best (probably because of the melted American cheese and dashi-spiked special sauce). The menu is overall lighter (read: more vegetables, slightly less pork), but a meal here wouldn't be complete without the white cheddar and malt vinegar pork rinds served to nearly every table.

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2. Ronero 738 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (West Loop)

Randolph St. is no stranger to Latin American cuisine. Ronero, though, ups the ante on Restaurant Row. It’s a Latin American restaurant, with Caribbean, Cuban, and Central American influence, and a penchant for rum. Chef Corey Morris (formerly of Rural Society and Jose Garces’ Mercat a la Planxa in the South Loop) helms the kitchen, turning out dishes combining the culinary flavors of various Central and South American regions, giving his traditionally rooted plates some kicked-up creativity. Expect dishes like a hamburger with chorizo marmalade, and yucca fries, ceviche, empanadas, or a whole, fried red snapper with coconut-cola rice and fried plantains. Upstairs, the second-floor lounge is rum-centric with a speakeasy-adjacent atmosphere and tableside cocktail service. The lounge is open late to keep the Latin spirit alive well beyond your dinner.

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3. Elske 1350 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

From Blackbird alums -- husband-wife team David and Anna Posey -- is Elske, the Danish-inspired, self-proclaimed “laid-back fine-dining” restaurant on Randolph. Its aesthetic is strikingly Scandinavian: the two story restaurant is a modern, white-washed space with an open kitchen, a fireplace, reclaimed wood tables, and an outdoor garden. It’s welcoming, clean, and bright, as you’d expect from a restaurant operating on a “laid back” ethos. The eight-course tasting menu (wine pairings optional) is rife with innovative flavor combinations and modern techniques, but in an approachable way uncharacteristic of fine dining. Also uncharacteristic of a fine dining restaurant is Elske’s a la carte option for the prix fixe-averse. The seasonally-changing, minimalist menus feature comforting New American fare with Nordic accents, like a duck liver tart with buckwheat and salted ramps, or the slow-roasted brisket with creamed Brussels sprouts. The word elske means “love” in Danish -- which is exactly what the Poseys bring to every detail of their restaurant.

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4. The Flamingo Rum Club 601 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

River North is home to some of the swankiest dining options and drinking lounges in the city. The Flamingo Rum Club fits right in from its colorful, 1950s Havana-themed house on Wells. The rum lounge, while obviously known for its extensive selection of rums -- one of the largest collections in the country -- is also known for its Cuban-inspired menu and live entertainment, like Afro-Cuban jazz and burlesque shows from the cabaret stage. The exterior walls are vibrant with a flamingo mural, the interior walls are plastered with palm trees, and the staff are sporting pink tuxedos and floral, island-chic dresses. The Flamingo Rum Club is your Caribbean escape from the frigid streets of Chicago.

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5. Bar Roma 5101 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Andersonville)

Andersonville is a lot of things; a dining destination is certainly one of them. Bar Roma is just one more reason to head north on Clark St. for house-made pasta, wood-fired pizza, and Italian-inspired craft cocktails. The specialty here is Roman-style cuisine, but the eclectic selection of meatballs is best described as global, rather than regional. The balls, listed on the menu as “Polpette,” include a variety of meat bases in addition to the traditional Italian ground beef meatball — like veal sweetbread meatballs, spicy pork belly meatballs, chicken and pistachio meatballs, and lamb merguez-style sliders. Start with the house spritz, try the hand-rolled pastas, and definitely add a fried egg to your order of balls.

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6. Carbon Arc Bar & Board 4614 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

Attached to Chicago’s historic Davis Theater, Carbon Arc Bar & Board is an American restaurant and bar named for the carbon arc lamps used in early 20th century film projection (because it’s in a movie theater, get it?). Burgers, salads, flatbreads, tacos, and sides can be served on trays and carried over to the theater for an modern-day, elevated TV dinner. Craft cocktails are labeled as “Timeless,” “Updated Classics,” and “Original Screenplay,” adhering to the theme while pointing you in the direction of your craving. Beer, wine, and screenings included.

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7. Dox Quality Greek 1566 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

In the 1,800sqft space formerly run by City Soles on Damen Ave., from the team behind the GRK Greek Kitchen fast-casual chain, DOX Quality Greek is Wicker Park’s Athenian-style outpost for Greek street food. Menu items include lamb, rotisserie chicken, pork, or vegetable sandwiches on pita bread (custom made for DOX by a local artisan), kebabs, grilled octopus, and Greek-style doughnuts for the sugar lovers who don’t feel like walking down the street to Stan’s. Alcohol on offer includes Greek wine and beer, and custom craft cocktails. The bright, Grecian island-themed counter-serve stays open after dinner hours, because it’s never too late for skewered meat.

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8. Eden 1748 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60612 (West Town)

In a bright, modern space with white brick walls and plush green booths, Eden is a contemporary American restaurant with Mediterranean flair from the team behind Paramount Events. Its decor, replete with an onsite greenhouse from which the kitchen sources ingredients, speak to its idyllic, biblical garden namesake. Creative takes on American dishes include umami doughnuts, Portuguese-spiced Chicken, and a burger with tomatoes and chicory-allium agrodolce. Eden is paradisal; it’s an upscale, relaxed escape after a rowdy game at the United Center down the street.

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