Unless you’ve been off the grid for the past month, chances are, you’ve heard about the ultra-nostalgic Saved by the Bell-inspired pop-up diner that’s taken Chicago by storm. Originally only set to run through the end of summer, the concept will now stay open until December 31st. Get all the details here.
The same crew that brought you acclaimed Osteria Langhe are back at it with an artsy fast-casual concept that’ll challenge everything you know about fast-casual fare. The menu spans from house-made pastas and deep-fried saffron gorgonzola arancini with pink peppercorn basil crema to a carbonara panini stacked with house pancetta, creamed caramelized onions, Parmigiano, and a sunny-side egg, and for the adventurous eaters, bacon-wrapped sweet breads and herb-encrusted rabbit livers.
Chicago’s new love affair with poke holds strong at this beach-y Hawaiian oasis in the heart of Wicker Park. Grab your favorite pair of sunnies and some sunblock -- between its surf-shack aesthetic, rooftop patio, Polynesian-Asian fare, and colorful cocktails, it’s the closest you’ll get to a tropical vacation without having to leave the city limits.
Though the Loop is still best known for its exhaustive supply of fast-casual eateries, it’s slowly expanding its roster of serious dining establishments, and this 8,000sqft American tavern backed by the Lawless sisters is no exception. The ground-level concept pulls design inspiration from Chicago’s history, and promises upmarket pub fare like a Wagyu grind burger and a pork-based twist on a Chicago-style hotdog with giardiniera, celery salt, pickle, mustard, and an optional can of PBR, as well as balances dishes like spring pea agnolotti studded with morels, fava beans, and fiddlehead ferns, and a knockout pastry program.
Culinary dream team Four Corners Tavern Group and Hogsalt Hospitality partner once more to bring the West Loop a new destination for barbacoa-style tacos, ceviches, and margaritas aplenty. The space is also outfitted with a 154-seat patio and retractable roof prime for alfresco dining and drinking all summer long. Pro tip: the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations and is already drawing crowds, so be prepared to wait, or make plans to dine at off-peak hours.
The brainchild of local craft brewery Finch Beer Co. and local restaurant mogul Matthias Merges, this elevated brewpub sports a menu that goes far beyond the usual suspects. Curried popcorn dusted with lime zest will jumpstart your appetite, while a selection of both plated and bunned sausages will ensure you leave full; everything is designed to pair perfectly with a frothy glass of suds.
With its 16 ping-pong tables, well-stocked bar, and separate restaurant, this London import is a veritable ping-pong lover’s paradise. Engage in some friendly table-tennis competition, then head to 1901 (the restaurant within the casual-cool space) for bacon and sage-wrapped veal medallions, crispy chicken skin pizza, an assortment of locally made Black Dog gelatos and sorbets, and plenty of creative riffs on traditional cocktails
After a wildly successful stint as the inaugural chef-in-residence at Intro, California-based Chef CJ Jacobson is back in Chicago with his first restaurant with Lettuce Entertain You: a small plates-focused Mediterranean resto that spotlights his light, California approach to cooking. Look for spicy hummus, house-made stracciatella with vine-ripened tomatoes, and lamb kefta kebabs.
Helmed by Chef Riley Huddleston, the food and beverage programs at this hotly anticipated luxury hotel are nothing short of impressive. Head to the unique, tri-level rooftop for chef-y cocktails, grilled lamb belly, 'Nduja cheese bread, and unparalleled views of Chicago's skyline. Reservations recommended.
An understated facade and a sophisticated -- but far from fussy -- aesthetic let Executive Chef and Partner Charles Welch's seasonally driven cuisine take center stage. The menu is expected to change at Mother Nature's whim, but opening standouts include hamachi with confit grapefruit, hazelnut, radicchio, finger lime, and shiso, house-made buckwheat pasta tossed with thyme butter, pecorino sardo, parsley, and bread crumb, and five chef-crafted cocktails.
1. Saved by the Max1941 W North Ave, Chicago
2. Animale1904 N Western Ave, Chicago
3. Mahalo1501 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
4. The Dearborn108 N State St, Chicago
5. Federales180 N Morgan St, Chicago
6. The Finch Kitchen2925 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
7. AceBounce230 N Clark Street, Chicago
8. Ema74 W Illinois St, Chicago
9. LondonHouse Rooftop360 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
10. Honey's1111 W Lake, Chicago
It's not every day that your neighborhood opens up a nostalgic "Saved by the Bell"-inspired pop-up diner. Neon-lit and ultra-colorful, the '90s throwback spot serves up sliders, milkshakes, macaroni 'n cheese, and other all-American diner bites. Originally set to run from the beginning of June to the end of the summer, the concept will now stay open until December 31, 2016.
From the crew behind Osteria Langhe, Animale is a unique fast-casual restaurant that's changing the way we think about service. The staff rotates its duties, so the same people who cook your food will be serving it behind the counter another day. Revolving around Italian street food, the menu includes panini with house-made pancetta, meat dishes like bacon-wrapped sweet breads and rabbit liver, and arancini rice balls.
Poke gets the special treatment at Mahalo, a Hawaiian-Polynesian fusion restaurant in Wicker Park. The menu includes tuna, octopus, and shrimp varieties of poke, all served with fried wontons. There's also a stocked selection of non-poke dishes, like spam meatballs and a burger topped with American cheese, grilled pineapple, and of course, spam. The bi-level spot has a surf shack aesthetic with palm tree decor, tropical drinks, and a rooftop patio.
The Dearborn is a behemoth project: run by hospitality all-stars the Lawless sisters and helmed by chef Aaron Cushieri (Alinea, Takashi), the 8,000sqft restaurant defines itself as an urban American tavern. The upmarket menu is truly a product of the Midwest with hearty, farmers market-driven items like a local burrata appetizer, butcher block cuts, a house burger, and a giardiniera-topped hot dog. The Block37 space caters to the after-work crowd, and the bar is open late every night.
Federales is bringing all the Mexican restaurant requisites (tacos, ceviche, margaritas) to the West Loop dining scene. The space is prime real estate for outdoor eating and drinking given its 145-seat patio (with a retractable roof!) but beware: it doesn't take reservations.
Taking over the former BreakRoom Brewery, this elevated brewpub from Finch Beer Co. serves an exclusive selection of in-house beers and upmarket bar food like curried popcorn with lime zest and hand-crafted sausage. The beer options range from IPAs to Belgian whites, and if you're more of a hard alcohol person, there's a full bar with draft and mixed cocktails. The industrial space features an open seating area.
AceBounce has more than a dozen ping-pong tables, an extremely well-stocked bar, and a full-service restaurant with elevated bar food like fried oysters and lamb kebobs, plus a full pizza menu. Expect craft beers -- most of which are from local Chicago brewers -- bottled, canned, and on draft.
California-based chef CJ Jacobsen is helming the kitchen at Ema, a Mediterranean small plates restaurant in River North whose name comes from the Hebrew word for mother. Ema combines the hallmarks of Mediterranean food -- spreads like hummus and charred eggplant, hot & cold mezze, kebabs -- with his West Coast sensibility to seasonal ingredients. Many of the signatures are house-made, like the bread that falls somewhere between naan and pita, the Greek yogurt used in the tzatziki, and the stracciatella served with tomatoes and herb salad.
The rooftop at this super-luxe Loop hotel has not one, but THREE levels, each with views of the Chicago skyline that give all other rooftops a run for their money. Each floor is different: the 21st floor features an indoor cocktail bar, while the 22nd is all about the outdoor terrace. The 23rd floor is the most formal of the three with exclusive dining under the building's signature dome. Reservations are recommend for all levels.
Honey's is the restaurant equivalent of your cool and effortless friend who has an understated chicness that you can't quite point your finger on. From a power team of industry friends, the West Loop restaurant focuses its menu around house-made pasta, fresh fish, and seasonal produce. The menu is often in flux given the seasons and whatnot, but you can always expect fine food paired with unique cocktails. Large skylights light up the 100-seat space.