It’d be easy to lament summer’s end, but with all the great restaurants and bars to emerge onto the scene over the past few months, there are more than enough reasons to stay positive through the dog days. So, instead of shedding tears over the waning patio season, shed ‘em over the inevitable undoing of your beach bod as you eat and drink your way through this list of new openings.

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Coalfire Southport

At last, Coalfire’s cult-favorite blistered, bubbly, and supremely crispy-crusted pizzas make their North Side debut at this large Southport Corridor expansion. Expect a few signature pies carried over from the original Grand Avenue location (pepperoni & whipped ricotta), as well a couple new variations like stracciatella and sausage. There’s also a selection of appetizers and Italian buttercream-topped cupcakes made by Chicago Cupcake.

Buzz Bait Taqueria

Buzz Bait Taqueria

Old Town
The folks that brought you Lou Malnati’s pizza have teamed up with the Kamehachi crew to open their first non-pizza spot: a fish taco haven on Wells St sporting white-washed brick walls, beachy décor, and pops of aqua. Choose from half a dozen tacos, like Sapporo-battered Alaskan cod and BBQ-glazed salmon, elotes, Baja slaw, and more, and finish your meal on a sweet note with a tequila-spiked salted caramel gelato milkshake.

Kari Skaflen/Courtesy of Small Cheval

Small Cheval

Get your burger fix at Au Cheval’s aptly named little sis (formerly Roxie’s by the Slice), where you can dive into the city’s finest meat patty without having to survive wait-list times in the West Loop. The lauded burgers are already drawing serious lines, but they're always worth the wait, especially when digging in on the expansive back patio.

Hideout Inn

The Hideout Riverwalk

River North
Revel in live music, cheap canned beer, cocktails, and bar fare at the riverside outpost of this beloved bar and concert venue. The new location hopes to attract the after-work crowd, and will close for the season in November.

Johnny's Grill

Johnny’s Grill

Logan Square
After closing more than a year ago, this Logan Square diner has been resurrected under new chef/owner Sarah Jordan. Many aspects of the space remain the same, like the red stools, countertops, and greasy-spoon charm, but there’s plenty new, too, including an expansion that takes over a former flower shop, a soon-to-come patio, and a menu packed with upmarket takes on classic diner fare, like cornmeal buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote, a small selection of toasts, a house-made Pop-Tart, and a double cheeseburger stacked with sharp cheddar, Dijonnaise, pickles, and onion.

Steve Scap/Courtesy of Tack Room

Tack Room

Tack (no pun intended) “piano bar” onto the list of concepts housed within the historic Thalia Hall property (Dusek’s, Punch House); this cozy bar hosts live piano performances Thursdays through Saturdays, offers a solid lineup of potent yet balanced cocktails, and wields more than a few equestrian-themed accents, like old carriage wheels, horseshoes, and a tall shelf lined with dusty cowboy boots.

Jorge Gera Photography/Courtesy of Bar Siena

Bar Siena

West Loop
Decidedly more casual than sister restaurant Siena Tavern, this trendy, bi-level concept from Chef Fabio Viviani and DineAmic Group explodes onto the Randolph scene with crispy mortadella pizza topped with Gorgonzola dolce and pickled radicchio, burrata-stuffed agnolotti, and a knockout “BomboBar” that slings flavored bomboloni, house-made gelato, Italian ice, and more dessert-y favorites.

The Hampton Social

The Hampton Social

River North
Slip into your favorite Top-Siders and head to The Hampton Social, River North’s newest destination for lobster rolls, lobster mac, lobster pizza, and well, lobster just about any way you can imagine it. If you’re not feeling the lobster fest, there’s plenty of other coastal fare to dig your claws into, like crab cakes, linguini and clams, and Old Bay-seasoned fries.

Courtesy of Bernie’s


River North
Boasting 7,500sqft and an inviting, neighborhood-y vibe, Michigan-based Peas & Carrots Hospitality’s first Windy City venture is off to a promising start. Fancy yourself as a burger aficionado? Try the Bernie’s rendition, which includes a short-rib patty cooked in clarified butter and smothered in melty cheddar and pickles; Mediterranean-leaning dishes like lamb hashwi and saffron mussels are can’t-miss, too.

Courtesy of Rec Room

Rec Room

River North
Where else in Chicago can you raid a fridge full of beer and free midnight snacks, do your best whip/nae nae beneath a disco ball, engage in a Ms. Pac-Man battle, AND score “bottle service” in the form of house-bottled cocktails? While you’re thinking about it, we’ll be partying in the basement at Henry’s.

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys

Gold Coast
This New York-born Middle Eastern street food franchise has finally arrived at its first tiny Chicago storefront, and has plans for four more local outposts before all is said and done. You’ll likely have to fight a long line of ex-New Yorkers and other superfans, but one bite into a gyro or falafel over rice and that wait time will be water under the bridge.

Pomp & Circumstance

Pomp & Circumstance

Old Town
New from the team behind the Hubbard Inn and Barn & Company, the menu at this retro farm-to-table resto spans from bison tartare and roasted pork belly to pistachio-crusted oyster with bacon jam and roasted bone marrow. As for the cocktails? There’s a healthy mix of classics and new-school sips, as well as a couple 24-ouncers, which, while delicious, aren’t for the faint of heart.

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1. Coalfire Southport 3707 N Southport, Chicago, IL 60613 (Lakeview)

Larger and featuring an expanded menu than the West Town original, Coalfire Southport serves the same thin-crust, coal-fired pies with a myriad of toppings. Every pie comes out of the oven with a charred crust, and the toppings vary from vegan-friendly combos to tried-and-true favorites like pepperoni and whipped ricotta.

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2. Buzz Bait Taqueria 1529 N. Wells St. , Chicago, IL 60610 (Old Town)

Fish tacos are having an extended moment at this Old Town spot, courtesy of the people from Lou Malnati's pizza and Kamehachi. With half a dozen different varieties and beachy décor, you might forget you're in the Midwest.

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3. Small Cheval 1732 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647 (Bucktown)

Au Cheval's pared-down little sister in Bucktown slings similar superlative burgers as its West Loop counterpart. Small Cheval's focus is simple: hamburgers and cheeseburgers -- plus or minus bacon -- and golden fries. There's beer, a few cocktails, and the space, which feels like a retro roadside burger joint, is open until midnight on weekends and includes an expansive back patio.

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4. The Hideout Riverwalk 35 E Riverwalk South, Chicago, IL 60601 (River North)

The much loved Hideout quietly opened this Riverwalk location, which hosted the same live music, cheap beer, and bar food as the original.

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5. Johnny's Grill 2545 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

The original Johnny's Grill was a greasy spoon fixture for years before its lease ended in 2014. A year later, chef/owner Sarah Jordan (Boka, Blackbird, Cicchetti) opened a same-but-different Johnny's in the exact location that's both an homage to the original and a total upgrade. The space and menu is still very much a diner with all formica everything, but there's now a bar, patio, and creative comfort dishes like house-made pop tarts, extra crispy fish & chips, and a sharp double cheeseburger that joins the ranks of the best in Chicago.

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6. Tack Room 1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (Pilsen)

Brought to us by the Dusek's team, this equestrian-themed piano lounge offers live performances Thursday through Saturday nights, creative bar fare like beef-fat fries, and fantastic cocktails like the mint julep mixed with George Dickel 9 year rye, house sugar, and mint.

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7. Bar Siena 832 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

This casual but incredibly hip bar and restaurant takes Italian cues from sister restaurant Siena Tavern for its menu, complete with mortadella pizza topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella, meats, and veggies along with American twists like duck mac & cheese and the BomboBurger. While there's a decent selection of draft, bottled, and canned beer, Siena's Italian roots means this bar is always fully stocked with, you guessed it, wine -- there are a handful of sparkling, tens of whites, and dozens (upon dozens) of reds.

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8. The Hampton Social 353 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This seafood spot is a laid back scene with a great brunch and killer happy hour with $89 dollar magnums and half-price glasses of rosé and pizza from 4-7pm on weekdays.

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9. Bernie's Lunch & Supper 660 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

Bernie's brings Mediterranean style flavors together with seasonal vegetables & sustainable meats for their menus. The name may only say lunch & supper, but keep an eye out for their brunch and wine menus.

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10. The Rec Room 18 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

The basement under Henry's is the spot for dancing + bottle service + midnight snacking. It's a private, event-ready space for up to 75 party animals and comes equipped with a dance floor (jukebox and disco ball included), hand bottled classic cocktails like G & T, canned beer and a mini fridge full of junk food that's free after midnight.

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11. The Halal Guys 49 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Gold Coast)

Don't be surprised if your visit to this tiny Gold Coast storefront includes meeting a bunch of New York expats. This Middle Eastern food-haven was born in the Big Apple, and plans to expand into Chicago even further after this first Midwest location. Their chicken, gyros, and falafel are notorious, whether serves over rice or wrapped in pita.

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12. Pomp & Circumstance 1400 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Old Town)

The food at this two level American restaurant is worth all the Pomp and all the Circumstance. The retro, farm-to-table vibe extends to a menu of bison tartare, roast pork belly, oysters with bacon jam, and roasted bone marrow. The bar serves classic cocktails like Manhattans, Sidecars, and Martinis, but also their own creations like the Shakedown and North Park Ave.



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