As they say, "April showers bring May flowers, and both of those months -- plus March -- bring a zillion bar and restaurant openings in Chicago". From a Filipino-American concept to an underground ramen shop, here are 15 of the best Chi openers from this Spring.
Kaiser Tiger (address and info)
West Loop’s new carnivore hangout houses an arsenal of meat ranging from the lethal Bacon Grenade to the Happy Gaucho (spicy Argentinean chorizo with fresh guac and tequila sour cream), and the requisite 24 tap beers to wash them down with. Important update since we broke the story on the opening: they’re also offering a spherical (read: soccer-inspired) pork bomb ball special for the World Cup. God bless soccer.
High Five Ramen (address and info)
Brendan Sodikoff put himself on the ramen map (Editor's Note: can someone make one of these, actually?) with this new subterranean ramen shop beneath Green Street Smoked Meats. The cozy, dimly-lit space is home to a concise menu featuring both traditional and modern ramen offerings, eye-popping “canzillas” of Asahi beer, and boozy slushies to temper the heat of the noodles. Like most of Sodikoff’s restos, High Five doesn’t take reservations, so try off-hours noodle-slurping or prepare for a wait.
Lagunitas Brewery and Taproom (address and info)
In case you didn’t catch our list of 10 things you need to know about Lagunitas and its new Chi brewery, it might be time you catch up. Also: the folks at Lagunitas said the taproom (which'll fit 300 people, showcase a 360-degree view of the brewing operation, and feature a broad spectrum of Lagunitas’ usual suspects and the occasional one-off)
should be cleared for alcohol service on June 25th, so mark your calendar and do some liver crunches in preparation.
Masada (address and info)
New from the people behind Wicker Park’s highly successful Sultan’s Market, Masada sates Logan Square’s collective hunger for tapas-style Middle Eastern cuisine that's amenable to every palette, from vegans to vegetarians (for sure get the Egyptian rice and lentils) to carnivores who like sumac chicken (trust us, you like sumac chicken).
Slippery Slope (address and info)
Missing the arcade days of yore? Then you're gonna want to drop by this cavernous watering hole, stocked with two Skee-Ball machines for your enjoyment. The same guys who brought us gin-focused Scofflaw have brought this dance hall to life, and their influence is evident in the ingenious bottled cocktail offerings and chili- and onion-smothered tamales. Skee, on.
The Roost Carolina Kitchen (address and info)
Everyone’s favorite mobile fried chicken unit (No. 9 on our Best Fried Chicken in Chicago list) took over a cozy, 30-seat BYOB storefront on Irving Park earlier this Spring, and they’ve been packing it ever since. Grab a sixer of your favorite beer and head over for the same chicken and buttery biscuits you know and love, along with sides like hand-cut potato chips, baked apples, and sweet, sweet peach cobbler.
First Draft (address and info)
First Draft opened this month, adding an impressive 200-beer selection (64 on draft) to Printer's Row along with a sports pub menu featuring beer-brined, house-smoked ribs, angus burgers, pizza, and wings.
Craft Pizza (address and info)
This BYOB pizzeria recently moved into the former Haute and the Dog space on Damen Ave, and has set itself apart from the competition with its special, 12-hour fermented starter (for flavor), 12-hour warm rise (for a crispy-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the-inside crust), and a scorching-hot pizza oven that yields perfectly blistered pies. You can also drop by in the morning for house-made bagels and Sparrow Coffee.
Doner Men (info)
Leading Chicago's latest wave of food trucks, Doner Men delivers German and Turkish street food in an immaculately designed wagon (look for the lasers, mermaids, and tsunami paint job). Aboard you'll find grilled sausages, kebabs, and currywurst that is oddly the... best.
Henry's Swing Club (address and info)
From the vintage Playboys plastered on the wall to the plush seating, Henry's has modern amenities with a comforting dive mentality. DMK's latest burger bar has an unrivaled selection of sliders that are great eats for under $4, and the beer + shot specials are some of the cheapest you'll find in River North.
Spiaggia (address and info)
Tony Mantuano’s iconic Michigan Ave outpost underwent a thorough, five-month facelift, and along with its sexy new look (which comes without its old, stuffy jackets-required policy), has managed to come back better than ever. The modern Italian menu includes revamped versions of classics like foie gras-stuffed ravioli and black truffle gnocchi, reflecting the new, casually elegant vibe the dining space exudes.
Beermiscuous (address and info)
Complete with a cheeky name, curated selection of 12 beers on draft, and 300+ bottled brews (about half of which are sourced locally) to choose from, Beermiscuous promises to be one of the best openings of the year -- let alone the Spring. The craft beer café and liquor store feels like a coffee shop minus the coffee, with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere for beer connoisseurs and casual sippers alike.
Laughing Bird (address and info)
Anchored by owner Franco Gianni and former Top Chef contestant Chrissy Camba, Laughing Bird’s Filipino-American perspective is a breath of fresh air. The restaurant stakes its claim in the old Tank Sushi storefront, and hits high notes with its charred octopus (with Chinese broccoli, dinuguan sauce, pickled banana peppers, and radish) and a chicken adobo smothered in a Laughing Bird-branded Co-op hot sauce.
Ani (address and info)
Miss out on celebrating International Sushi Day on the 18th? Right your wrong with the citrus-infused Double Sake maki and unagi nigiri at Arami’s new “brother” restaurant (really though, Ani means “older brother” in Japanese). The 40-seat dining space sports clean lines and minimalist décor, ultimately letting Chef Shin Matsuda’s innovative-yet-authentic Japanese fare do the talking.
Si Fu Chino Latino (address and info)
Tacos and Asian food collide at this colorful, customizing-encouraged taco shop where guests choose from a variety of proteins (cilantro lime chicken, tempura shrimp, lemongrass tofu...) and a variety of styles -- “Chino”-style (pickled daikon, cucumber, jalapeno, and carrots), “Latino”-style (cilantro, onions, lime), etc. -- on their preference of soft or hard-shell corn tortillas. Not feelin’ tacos? They have burritos, egg rolls, empanadas, and more, too.
1. High Five Ramen112 N Green St, Chicago
2. Lagunitas Brewing Company1843 S Washtenaw Ave, Chicago
3. Masada2206 N California Ave, Chicago
4. Kaiser Tiger1415 W Randolph St, Chicago
5. Slippery Slope2357 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
6. The Roost Carolina Kitchen1467 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago
7. Beermiscuous2812 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
8. Spiaggia980 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
9. Henry's Swing Club18 W Hubbard St, Chicago
10. Ani3056 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
11. Craft Pizza1252 N Damen Ave, Chicago
12. Laughing Bird4514 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
13. First Draft649 S Clark St, Chicago
14. Si Fu Chino Latino Kitchen2116 W Roscoe St, Chicago
Brought to you by Brendan Sodikoff, this West Loop resto is a cozy, dimly-lit space offering a concise menu featuring both traditional and modern ramen offerings, eye-popping “canzillas” of Asahi beer, and boozy slushies to temper the heat of the noodles.
Hailing from Northern CA, Lagunitas' Chicago-based brewery and taproom brings all the goods, and then some. It's the biggest brewery in Chicago (Goose Island is second!), offering tastings, events, and seasonal specials.
Located in Logan Square, Masada features tapas-style Middle Eastern fare that includes something for everyone, from vegan and vegetarian dishes to meaty types like their sumac chicken.
This absolutely insane temple of beer is adorned with a 200-seat beer garden, killer skyline views, 24 primo drafts, flights of sausage, and the heart-stopping brown sugar-rubbed bacon bomb.
Skee-ball, tamales, and and an expansive, crimson-lit dance floor await at this two-story club made to replace what Bonny's once was. The beer is cheap, the wine is boxed, and we promise this will probably be one of the only times you'll hear "Mother-In-Law" (a tamale-chili combo) and not be filled with dread.
If you're craving crispy fried chicken and mouth-watering chicken sammies, head to Lakeview. Head to The Roost, a food truck with a permanent BYOB storefront on Irving Park Road, for Carolina-style recipes like crispy, spicy fried chicken on a flaky buttermilk biscuit topped with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese. Heat things up even more by ordering the Nashville Hot, Habanero BBQ, or Buffalo variations. Creamy mac and cheese and sweet peach cobbler round out the feast.
You could knock this place for a cutesy name and concept -- at this "beer cafe" you get your beers not from a bartender but a “beerista." But nomenclature aside, Beermiscuous is different than any other place in Chicago and a valuable addition to the craft beer ecosystem, with cooler upon cooler of alphabetized bottles you can take home in a mix-and-match six pack or drink right there on the premises for an upcharge. If you're more a draft devotee, the dozen-strong taplist always makes for some interesting pints or flights. The free wi-fi befits the atmosphere, which really does skew a little more cafe than bar, so if you have a work-from-home gig and feel like you can be productive with a beer or two in you, it's also an underrated spot to get some work done. No food beyond some light snacks (and free pretzels!) though, so you'll have to order that lunch in.
Walls of wine bottles line the entrance to this elegant Italian eatery (which nabbed a 2014 James Beard nomination for Outstanding Restaurant), ushering diners into a contemporary space with black marble and white tablecloths. Chef Tony Mantuano heads the kitchen, making the preparation of elevated, artfully plated dishes look like a walk on the beach (by the way, "spiaggia" means beach in Italian). Jackets are no longer required in the dining room, but let it be known, this isn't the type of place where you want to show up looking like a schlub.
This River North hub is home to over 22 slider options on its menu, as well as serious drink options (buy a bottle of Jack and get free Coke refills all night!), playing cards, vintage Playboys, and pool tables.
Ani (which means older brother in Japanese) is the sibling of Arami. The 40-seat dining space sports clean lines and minimalist décor, letting Chef Shin Matsuda’s innovative-yet-authentic Japanese fare do the talking.
Craft Pizza is one of Chicago's swankiest 'za spots, with a non-Chicago-style slices as well as the good, deep stuff.
Laughing Bird’s Filipino-American perspective is a breath of fresh air. The restaurant stakes its claim with menu items like the charred octopus and a chicken adobo smothered in a Laughing Bird-branded Co-op hot sauce.
First Draft has an impressive beer selection -- 200 with 64 on draft -- and sports a pub menu featuring beer-brined house smoked ribs, angus burgers, pizza, and wings.