It's been a big month, between all the arguing over pizza and learning to butter our fried chicken. So big, in fact, that you may have been distracted from other exciting happenings in the restaurant scene. Luckily we have our greasy, butter-coated finger on the pulse. Here are six new spots you'll be glad you know about.
Ameripub, in addition to being our favorite word combo since Sharknado, is another super-sized gastropub entering the fray in River North, packing 500+ seats and (more importantly) 100 beers on tap surrounded by wall-to-wall flatscreens at its third outpost (adding to locations in Austin, TX and Merrifield, VA). Eats include steak with customizable toppings like melted bleu cheese and cilantro butter, skillet mac & cheese with pulled pork, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf with mashed sweet potatoes and honey-chipotle ketchup.
Doc B's Fresh Kitchen
This tech-savvy, all-day counter-service joint has patrons ordering from a digital menu, after which servers will track them down and deliver their order via a GPS tracker. What might that order be? Expect everything from egg sandwiches, like the Red White and Bleu (Danish bleu, bacon, and red onion) and Bow Truss coffee, to burgers, pizza, steaks, and wok bowls. Also expect a second location in River North this Spring.
Brand BBQ Market
This BBQ joint has reopened and reloaded (dare we say... re-branded!?) since closing last Winter with a liquor license (they had been BYOB), a food truck license, and even a shiny new sign. The updated menu has smoked chicken bruschetta, pulled pork nachos topped with smoked Gouda mac 'n cheese sauce, and the return of their burnt ends sandwich, now with $1 PBRs to wash everything down.
J. Rocco, The Bar
After opening its doors earlier this year, the Italian table is expanding, opening up a second-floor bar serving Italian wines, craft brews (5 Rabbit, Unibroue, and Founders) and cocktails like the Scarlet Harlot (bourbon, amaro, blood orange, brandied cherries, and disapproving glances from Mrs. Peacock). There’s room for 100 to grab a grilled duck sausage pizza, short rib panini, or some signature meatballs.
Okay, so you already know about The Grid... but it grew! It's taken over its upstairs predecessor Baume & Brix's space and rechristened it with upscale tavern food from Dirk Flanigan (The Gage, Henri). There’s wood-fired flatbread pizza, the Big Kahuna bacon burger (hands off, Sam Jackson) with pineapple-jalapeno chutney, and a build-your-own Boards and Buns menu option for do-it-yourselfers.
Runa is Japanese for "Platinum Moon", which we can only assume is Sailor Moon’s creepy wide-eyed twin. At this sushi bar, you’ll go pie-eyed for 10 varieties of dim sum (with daily fresh fish from Hawaii), bento boxes, pork buns, and Chinese Mandarin small plates. While the weather's still good, enjoy their private outdoor patio with room for 30.
From a group of industry vets looking to combine elite culinary school class with the smoked delish of the masses, BBM's a 40-seat, sit-down house of 'cue featuring a rustic, saloon-style vibe, chalkboard-style paintings highlighting its meats and sauces, cedar benches, and Douglas fir tables, still fired up from their epic debates with Lincoln logs.
Blackfinn's an American bar/grill with tons of flatscreen TVs bedecking its walls, and a huge 10-page menu whose contents will soon be bedecking your stomach.
Doc B's Fresh Kitchen specializes in made-from-scratch, farm-fresh eats in a casual environment... plus they've got some awesome burgers. Oh, and the breakfast comes paired with Bow Truss coffee. Teamwork!
Runa is a BYOB sushi restaurant located in Wicker Park, Chicago that's also serving up dim sum and other Asian-inspired treats (chicken feet, anyone?).
J. Rocco is an Italian restaurant and bar focused on rustic European dishes and featuring a 30-bottle wine list.
This subterranean lounge serves next-level bar snacks (duck fat popcorn, pad Thai-flavored peanuts), and jars full of spreadable goodness like cave-aged cheddar "pimento" spread w/ roasted red peppers, and flageolet beans with truffle Amere bitters. They're also making top-notch cocktails, like Thai-style mojitos.