Much like the Adventures of Old Christine, you prefer your bars and restaurants to be "New", too. So here you go: eight awesome Chicago bars and restaurants that opened this October, from a Japanese-inspired powerhouse to bar food and tacos galore.
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West Loop Taking its name from a Japanese folklore hero, this new multi-level concept from the folks behind BOKA, Girl & the Goat, and GT Fish & Oyster offers an immersive modern Japanese experience you basically won’t find elsewhere in Chicago. The menu blends traditional Japanese flavors with new, unexpected elements, like apple-smoked bacon with soy-marinated quail eggs and maple syrup, and toro tartare with ginger blossom and fried onion. As for the libations? Sake, Japanese whisky, or both!
River North After much anticipation, the latest from the much-anticipation-deserving Tippling Bros. and the dudes behind Mercadito, Mercadito Fish, and Municipal Bar has finally arrived in the former Hop Haus space. The menu is nothing short of epic in both depth and scope, with everything from bar bites like guac and wings to lamb short ribs, elote-style corn, and grilled pear flatbread. Looking for cocktails on draft? They have SIX, including one inspired by This Is Spinal Tap. And thanks to crazy-late hours (‘til 4am Sunday through Thursday, ‘til 5am Friday and Saturday), it's kind of the best place ever for hungry late-night bar hoppers.
River North Give it up for Lettuce Entertain You, which has successfully pulled off a restaurant-within-a-restaurant Inception-style stunt that involves tacos and 24oz cans of beer. It's called Tallboy Taco, and it's a cozy, café light-strewn taqueria set up inside Nacional 27 that's offering counter-service lunch, full-service dinner, eight killer taco varieties (including a 12-hour smoked brisket taco, a shredded adobo chicken taco, and a meatless beer-battered avocado taco), and a tallboy selection that runs more than a dozen brews deep.
River North If there’s one thing Colorado knows, it’s how to satisfy a wicked case of the munchies, and what better place to do so than The Kitchen? Hailing from the Rockies, this sustainable, farm-to-table resto is the antidote for all your food and drink... uh... poisonings? More not confusingly put: it's delicious, from meaty trofie alla bolognese and Kilgus Farm pork loin to a multitude of great beers, cocktails, and spirits.
West Town The bros behind Three Aces on Taylor St have just unleashed their latest project, and while it lacks the raucous vibe of its sister restaurant, it doesn't lack the food's deliciousness: American farm-to-table and Italian influences produce standouts like Slagel Farm beef carpaccio, skate wing, house-made pastas, and pig’s head for two.
Wicker Park Affectionately referred to as "Crackopelli" by loyalists, this vibrant, 90-seat, Tijuana-based taco joint is the first outpost to open outside of Mexico. The menu maintains a focus on seafood, vegetable tacos, and Mexican beers, and includes The Kraken, a taco loaded with cilantro-marinated grilled octopus, avocado, and cheese; Black Harder ceviche with squid ink, cilantro, and pickled onion; and... Mexican beers.
Wicker Park Given the success of its Lakeview and Old Town locations, it was safe to assume that a third Kanela Breakfast Club was coming, especially now that it's here: Wicker Park just added this new space, which looks similar to the others, with leather banquettes, chandeliers, and even a 12-seat espresso bar. Score breakfast sandwiches to-go on your way to work, or stop in and linger over bacon waffles drenched in bourbon caramel, red velvet French toast, new menu additions like a Southwest chicken wrap, and a weekends-only BYOB Bloody Mary bar.
Andersonville This casual Clark St resto is the latest from Marty Fosse (Anteprima, Azzurra, Ombra, Acre) and partners Jim Dragatsis and Sandeep Malhotra, and boasts a straightforward menu loaded with American favorites. Fill up on beer-saturated IPA cheese spread on pumpernickel toast, get in on the aptly-named "Double Napkin" burger (applewood-smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, special sauce, fried egg), and liquor up with your choice of "old-school", "new-school", and/or (probably and) "summer school" cocktails.
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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.