Roister

West Loop

The long-awaited casual concept from The Alinea Group has finally arrived on Fulton Market. It boasts a 64-seat space washed in shades of grey and black that centers around a bustling open kitchen equipped with a blazing hearth. Cocktails are strong yet balanced, with layers of flavor intended to unfold as you sip. A la carte edibles range from a vibrant scallop crudo finished with mustard, passionfruit, and charred daikon, to a massive whole chicken platter laden with poached breasts, deep-fried thighs, and accompanied by a ragout made out of confited wings and legs, sunchokes, and a house hot sauce. Guests may also opt for the chef's daily tasting menu, which earns them a seat at the kitchen bar.

Barry Brecheisen

SteakBar

Old Town

The first partnership between restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt Hospitality (Au Cheval, Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf) and the prolific Four Corners Tavern Group (Ranalli’s, Gaslight Bar), this trendy concept appeals to the nightlife set, gastronomes, and just about everyone in between. Visit the 9,000sqft space for the cool atmosphere and charred New York strip steak, and stay till late-night for inventive draft cocktails available by both the glass and the pitcher.

Courtesy of Smack Shack

Smack Shack

West Loop

In addition to SteakBar, Four Corners have also teamed with Minneapolis-based Smack Shack to bring the lobster-centric eatery to Chicago. Its raw bar and signature lobster roll served on milk bread are no-fail menu standouts, but it has its lobster boil game on lock, so prepare to get messy. The many-napkins-required menu option comes with red potatoes, Leon's of Chicago Polish sausage, corn on the cob, coastal slaw, griddled milk break, and drawn butter, and is guaranteed to keep people coming back for more.

Christie’s Dairy Delights

University Village/Little Italy

Taylor St welcomes the first urban outpost of this charming Palatine-based scoop shop and coffee house just in time for ice cream weather. Here, the ice cream flavors run 16 varieties deep and include Salty "Cow-amel" and Carrot Cake, the topping options are virtually limitless, the cones range from waffle to cookie to pretzel, and the caffeinated sips are sourced from Chicago’s own Metropolis Coffee Company.

Joy District

Joy District

River North

It didn’t take long for the former EPIC space (which closed in January) to receive a face-lift and transform into this buzzy tri-level clubstaurant, which comes complete with a soon-to-open rooftop bar, the first kinetic lighting installation to exist outside of Las Vegas, and private event spaces. The kitchen promises plenty of shareable eats like a selection of savory “lollipops” (think: chicken fried steak and smoked spare rib), tuna poke cones, and sushi, as well as large-portioned seafood and steaks.

The Fat Pickle
Jim Vondruska/Thrillist

EZ Inn

Ukrainian Village

With its unassuming facade, you may end up walking right past dimly lit Old Style sign hanging atop the doorway of EZ Inn -- and you'd be missing out on a decades-old dive bar that's been given a new lease on life (and a coating of lacquer). No kitschy concepts or themes in the re-designed space, just an ode to the comfortable and homey Chicago neighborhood tavern it's always been.The overhauled drink menu has more than a dozen craft drafts, boozy sodas and a a $6 special a can of Old Style, a shot of Scotch and a bag of Jay's potato chips. The jukebox is free and expect DJ's on weekends to provide some chill underscoring to your evening. 

Urbanbelly

Urbanbelly

Wicker Park

Bill Kim’s lauded Asian fusion concept heads north to Wicker Park with its second outpost. Expect the same winning recipes as the West Loop location: crispy beef and cheddar wontons, wok-fried jasmine fried rice with pea shoot and madras curry, its signature ramen brimming with braised pork belly, mushrooms, and a velvety soft boiled egg, and vanilla soft serve topped with berry compote and peanut butter crunch.

Millie’s Supper Club

Lincoln Park

Experience the North Woods by way of Lincoln Ave at this Wisconsin-inspired supper club. The aesthetic is spot-on, with red vinyl seating, wood paneled walls, and taxidermy and kitschy beer paraphernalia punctuating the space, while the menu burgeons with classics like deviled eggs, beer battered white cheddar curds, fish fry, and a bevy of old-school cocktails.

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1. Roister 951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

From the team responsible for three-Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning Alinea, this West Loop restaurant delivers the same world-class eats in a decidedly more casual space. The New American menu is served in three formats: à la carte in the dining room, family-style chef's tasting at the kitchen counter; or the fully-immersive chef's tasting in the basement prep kitchen. The large dining room, bustling open kitchen, and slightly-louder-than-normal music makes Roister feel extra lively and energetic.

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2. SteakBar 1500 N Wells, Chicago, IL (Old Town)

Restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt Hospitality and the prolific Four Corners Tavern Group are behind this trendy concept that appeals to the nightlife set, gastronomes, and just about everyone in between. The 9,000sqft space boasts a cool atmosphere and an amazing charred New York strip steak. Grab a seat at the bar and browse the inventive draft cocktails, available by both the glass and the pitcher.

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3. Smack Shack 326 North Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Originating in Minneapolis, Smack Shack is a casual lobster-centric eatery in the West Loop. The raw bar and signature lobster rolls served on milk bread are menu standouts, but if you're willing to get a little messy, the lobster boil is another full proof dish. The many-napkins-required menu option comes with red potatoes, Leon's of Chicago Polish sausage, corn on the cob, cole slaw, griddled milk break, and drawn butter.

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4. Christies Dairy Delights 1151 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Little Tuscany)

An outpost of the charming Palatine-based scoop shop and coffee house, Christie’s Dairy Delights has over a dozen ice cream flavors, fresh pastries, baked goods that come straight from Deerfield's bakery, smoothies, and gourmet chocolate. The ice cream topping options are virtually limitless, the cones range from waffle to cookie to pretzel, and the coffee is sourced from Chicago’s own Metropolis Coffee Company.

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5. Joy District 112 W. Hubbard, Chicago, IL (River North)

Joy District is a buzzing tri-level club and restaurant, which comes complete with a rooftop bar, a kinetic lighting installation, and private event spaces. The kitchen promises plenty of shareable plates like a selection of savory “lollipops” (think: chicken fried steak and smoked spare rib), tuna poke cones, sushi, and large-portioned seafood and steak dishes.

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6. EZ Inn 921 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Ukrainian Village)

EZ Inn has been a staple Ukrainian Village tavern for decades, and with nearly 70 seats, there’s no shortage of eccentric folks who mosey in and out of the dim space. The bar’s 14 draft taps focus on beer from Chicago-based breweries, and boozy sodas are served as well as cocktails. Indie tunes fly out of the no-charge jukebox; it is a welcome addition to the throwback-themed space, which is complete with vintage license plates and retro beer advertisements.

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7. Urbanbelly 1542 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL (Wicker Park)

Urbanbelly's second outpost in Wicker Park delivers on the satisfying Korean fusion dishes you know from chef Bill Kim ("Phat rice" with crispy pork belly, braised beef and scrambled egg) and some you don't (black bean Udon noodle "Asian bolognese"). This buzzy eatery is open late and hits the spot with its inventive, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink culinary aesthetic.

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8. Millie's Supper Club 2438 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Wisconsin comes to Chicago in the form of Millie's Supper Club in Lincoln Park, an authentically kitsch, Midwestern tavern furnished in the style of North Woods supper clubs of yore. That means red vinyl booths, Friday night fish frys, punchbowl cocktails and big portions on 70s' throwback dishes like deviled eggs and meatloaf.