From a new pizza place with a rooftop beer garden to a speakeasy with an in-the-works back-room smoke shop, here are 14 summer bar and restaurant openings you likely missed while you were busy catching up on The Good Wife... we mean, uh, crushing beers and stuff.
Chicago's 14 best openings of the summer
One Off Hospitality (Blackbird, Big Star, The Publican) keeps it casual with its latest concept, a 41-seat counter service restaurant pushing Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine. The comfort food-y menu spotlights dishes like chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, smoked brisket taco Norteño, and chili con carne, along with craft cocktails and tequila galore. The best part? It opens early and closes late, so you can get your ham and cheese torta fix all. The. Time.
Typically known for his successful roster of Italian restaurants, Tony Mantuano is going full-on TWO-trick pony with this sprawling riverside American tavern. Maybe bring your second stomach, 'cause you’re going to need to engage it right around the time you finish a round of country bread and apps ("Chicago-style" sashimi and country fried rabbit, anyone?) and gear up for the wood-smoked whole chicken.
Poised to steal the show as one of Chi’s biggest independent pizza shops, Parlor flaunts a rooftop beer garden, an expansive ground-level patio, and a sweeping indoor dining space. Whet your appetite with Craziest Bread (house beer bread with garlic, shallots, Parmesan, pepperoni, mozzarella, and scallion cream), then whet whet it with a Pork-Q-Pie (cherry peppers, BBQ pork, pineapple, and smoked & fresh mozz) and any of 75+ beers.
At long, long, LONG last, Matthias Merges is bringing some of Chi’s favorite steam buns, ramen, and fried chicken to the South Side. Although the space is considerably smaller than its Logan Square counterpart, you can expect a lot of the same great eats, as well as Japanese whisky, a calamansi daiquiri on draft, and a (whoa) fried chicken steam bun. Added bonus: it’s mere blocks from sister restaurant A10, which means: Hyde Park restaurant crawl.
Never one to stay idle, Brendan Sodikoff continues his empire's expansion with a reboot of a California Ave favorite. The re-imagined bar sports a sleek speakeasy vibe, a cocktail menu that runs SEVENTY drinks deep, and a forthcoming tobacco shop in the back room. Score everything from $3 whiskey shots and $4 tall boys to an on-trend shaved ice amaro cocktail.
La vie boheme pervades the walls, the menu, and the ambiance at this glamorous new concept, breathing old-world charm into the swanky neighborhood. Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos’s cuisine is eclectic yet refined, and highlights a Central European lean with dishes like beef pierogies, plummy Czech roasted duck, and seriously addictive salt & vinegar chips with horseradish-onion dip.
Pastry trailblazers -- and former Bang Bang Pie Shop co-owners -- Dave and Megan Miller opened the first and only grain-centric bakery and restaurant in Chicago this summer. All the grains utilized in their eats are locally sourced and milled in-house, and all the eats are nothing short of epictastic. Go for breakfast and pick up prosciutto toast with house-made chevre, dandelion greens, a poached egg, and toasted oat porridge bread.
South Loopers, rejoice: the craft brewery movement is slowly infiltrating your neighborhood, starting with this brand-new microbrewery. The taproom has 14 brews on draft that range from porters to IPAs, communal tables, and large windows that offer a beer drinker's-eye view into the brewing area.
A second location of the cult favorite Humboldt Park taqueria has joined the likes of The Publican and Glazed & Infused on Fulton Market, and while it promises the same Guy Fieri-worthy cemita sandwiches, the digs are totally different. The new space feels like it's part-eatery, part-art-gallery-with-60-Dia-de-Los-Muertos-skulls, thanks to a Pueblan modern art installation featuring... 60 Dia de Los Muertos skulls.
Your favorite rolling breakfast sandwich purveyor now has a permanent storefront on Wacker, which means you now have a permanent storefront on Wacker. Choose from seven handcrafted egg sammies like The Scoundrel (farm egg, smoked turkey, white cheddar, wilted spinach, honey mustard, pretzel roll), two kinds of parfaits, and an assortment of sides and sips that range from bacon gingersnap cookies to cold-pressed orange juice and Filbert’s soda.
Taking over the former Alimentari space, this modern Spanish restaurant is equal parts sexy, sophisticated, and delicious -- just don’t expect tapas, because you’re not gonna find 'em here. Alinea veteran Chef Ashlee Aubin intentionally designed his menu to include entradas (starters) like Sherry-cured Spanish mackerel and platos fuertes (large plates) like grilled flat iron steak with an oxtail-stuffed piquillo pepper, braised onions, and salt-wrinkled potatoes for a more straightforward dining experience (read: you don’t have to share if you don’t want to).
Lakeview’s perennially packed beercade recently opened a 14,000sqft second location so that the Downtown crowd could get in on the NBA Jam, craft beer drinking, and all-around badassery that is HQ -- plus a full-service kitchen that earns some solid bonus points. Stop in for eats like Salisbury steak with sweet corn succotash along with your pick of 40 canned brews, and pray the bubble hockey table isn't crowded.
Keeping with the food-trucks-getting-brick-and-mortar-spaces theme, the folks behind the Pierogi Wagon have opened Polak Eatery, a casual Polish restaurant slinging some of the city’s most coveted pierogies and polish sausages. Thanks to a mix of traditional and inventive fixings, pierogi purists and foodies alike are guaranteed to find something they love.
1. Dove's Luncheonette1545 N Damen Ave, Chicago
2. River Roast315 N LaSalle St, Chicago
3. Parlor Pizza Bar108 N Green St, Chicago
4. Yusho Hyde Park1301 E 53rd St, Chicago
5. California Clipper1002 N California Ave, Chicago
6. Umami Burger Wicker Park1480 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
7. Bohemian House11 W Illinois St, Chicago
8. Baker Miller4610 Western Ave, Chicago
9. Vice District Brewing1454 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
10. Cemitas Puebla817 W Fulton Market, Chicago
11. The Eastman Egg Company23 N Wacker Drive, Chicago
12. Salero621 W Randolph St, Chicago
13. Headquarters Beercade213 W. Institute Place, Chicago
14. Polak Eatery1043 N California Ave, Chicago
One Off Hospitality's 41-seat counter service restaurant pushes Southern-inspired Mexican cuisine like chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy, smoked brisket taco Norteño, and chili con carne, along with craft cocktails and tequila galore.
On the north bank of the Chicago River is River Roast, an upscale tavern that combines traditional British roasts with new American ingredients. The menu revolves around roasted proteins -- fish, beef, chicken, pork -- that are carved table-side for two. There are also a variety of small plates and vegetables to share. The large space includes two bars and an expansive riverside patio.
Parlor flaunts a rooftop beer garden, an expansive ground-level patio, and a sweeping indoor dining space. Whet your appetite with “craziest bread” (house beer bread with garlic, shallots, Parmesan, pepperoni, mozzarella, and scallion cream), then try a “pork-Q-pie” (cherry peppers, BBQ pork, pineapple, and smoked and fresh mozz) and any of 75+ beers.
Although the space is considerably smaller than its Logan Square counterpart, you can expect a lot of the same great eats, as well as Japanese whisky, a calamansi daiquiri on draft, and a (whoa) fried chicken steam bun.
If you're looking for a true hipster bar in Humboldt Park, it doesn’t get much more hipster than taking a toke from a Rusty Nail (Scotch, Drambuie) served at this 1937 Brunswick bar surrounded by dim red lighting, and filled with board games and kitschy lamps.
LA-based burger chain Umami Burger has arrived in Chicago via Milwaukee Ave. Here, each patty is seared, topped with special Umami seasoning, and cooked to medium rare (plus, the toasted Portuguese-style bun features a branded "U" on top). Try the Manly Burger made with beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, and smoke-salt onion strings. Or, exclusive to the Chicago shop, the Calabrese Burger that digs into the city's love of sausage with a calabrese sausage patty, fondued truffle cheese, and house-pickled giardiniera. Sides include fries, tempura battered onion rings, four dipping sauces. The Un-Beef menu section provides a sushi-grade ahi tuna burger with daikon sprouts, crushed avocado and gingered carrots. But possibly best of all, the street art-tagged interior houses a full bar with a whiskey wall that goes 70 varieties deep, plus 20 beers on draft or in bottles.
This River North spot is an ode to Bohemian culture in all its manifestations, with rustic-meets-glam décor and eclectic fare that’s rooted in Central Europe. The menu, created and executed by Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, features small plates like salt and vinegar chips and knackwurst in a blanket, large plates like spatzel and skirt steak, and unforgettable sweets like caramelized plum kolacky and an inventive take on coffee and donuts with hazelnut brittle.
The former owners of Bang Bang Pie Shop are behind this grain-centric sweet and savory bake shop in Lincoln Square where all the items from breakfast to lunch -- and the flour itself -- are made in-house. Of Baker Miller's breakfast options, the milky bowl of oatmeal topped with seasonal jam, cultured cream, and toasted pecans is a standout, as is the heirloom blue corn grits with sausage. There are a few sandwiches available on the lunch menu, like a BLT with feta and tomato jam, which are served with a slice of pie or side salad. That's a no-brainer.
With 14 brews on draft in their taproom (including porters and IPAs), and windows that allow you to take a look inside the brewing area, this South Loop microbrewery is a place you need to visit.
This family-owned, West Loop Mexican spot prides itself on specializing in Poblano foods, and being "the only restaurant in Chicago that serves the Cemita sandwich." Owner Tony Anteliz frequently visits Oxaca for authentic Mexican cheese and other goods. He crafts the sandwich with Krakus ham, guajillo-rubbed pork loin, and breaded pork milanesa, all topped with avocado, smoky chipotles, and Oaxacan string cheese. The joint's salsas and chipotles (made in-house) are not to be missed.
Your favorite rolling breakfast sandwich truck has a permanent storefront on Wacker. Choose from handcrafted egg sammies like The Scoundrel (farm egg, smoked turkey, white cheddar, wilted spinach, honey mustard, pretzel roll), two kinds of parfaits, and an assortment of sides and sips that range from bacon gingersnap cookies to cold pressed orange juice and Filbert’s soda.
With modern takes on traditional staples like roasted beef short ribs, seas bass and potatoes a la plancha (translation: pan fried), and grilled flat iron steaks, Salero is a little piece of Spain right in the Chicago's West Loop. Helmed by Chef Ashlee Aubin, this stylish restaurant and bar avoids the trend factor of tapas and sticks to starts and main courses, so for once you won't have to feel the selfish guilt that one can only get when refusing to share their sweetbread.
The River North location of Headquarters Beercade features pinball and classic arcade games, as well as an extensive craft beer menu and specialty cocktails.