Keeping tabs on every restaurant and bar opening in Chicago is crazy. But keep an eye out for the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus, we present Table Stakes, a monthly recap of the five (approximately) must-see spots that have opened their doors wide during the thirty (approximately). Enjoy your meal.
If you feel like we’ve had an influx of Italian and Indian restaurant openings this season, you wouldn’t be wrong, but there are plenty of more interesting things happening in Chicago’s food scene as well. Think of a neighborhood gourmet pub serving matzo dumpling soup and meat pies, two gourmet restaurants with top-notch tasting menus, and a sweatshop that celebrates all things pork. Below are Chicago’s best fall openings.
You are here because: You’re ready for a culinary tour of Goa, the southwest coast of India, from the team behind ROOH in the West Loop.
You dine on: Indian and Portuguese influenced sea bass snacks like green pea and chorizo hummus with poi bread, hot and spicy grilled chicken wings with lemon and black pepper aioli, and Wider options, including a fried kingfish sprinkled with semolina and a pork vindaloo poi-wich. Enjoy a cocktail or two like Toes in the Sand (rum, pineapple liqueur, jasmine green tea, coconut cream, curry bitters and cold brew mist) or throw in an Indian beer or glass of Portuguese wine , all to the sound of live DJs on weekends.
116 Hubbard Street West (menu)
You are here because: You’re waiting for a table upstairs at Chef José Andrés’ Jaleo – and you’re a big pig.
You dine on: An experience at Pigtail is all about jamón and cocktails. For the latter: The Plantain Scotch Highball is prepared vacuum-packed with coconut, plantains, cinnamon and anise. There are even a few jamón cocktails like the Cocktail Consomé with consumed pork, sherry and egg mousse. Can’t wait for dinner? A menu of bites – all with jamon, unsurprisingly – should be enough to help you out. Try the ham croquettes, the foie gras tea towel or the classic Jamón Ibérico, served by the ounce.
500 N. Clark Street (menu)
You are here because: You love everything Brendan Sodikoff touches (hello, Au Cheval and Bavette’s) and you expect nothing less than a stellar dining experience in this neighborhood gourmet pub with a 1920s London vibe.
You dine on: Conventional and unconventional pub fare, including lamb samosas and matzoh ball soup, plus steaks, burgers, curries, and six varieties of pies, like the oxtail option and red wine with bone marrow and root vegetables. The menu is also peppered with favorites from other Sodikoff places, like the Smoked Salmon Caesar and the Black Truffle Bucatini. For drinks, consider British beers, one of 16 wines offered by the glass, or an avant-garde cocktail like Airmail with rum, honey, lime and bubbles.
1000 W. avenue Armitage (menu)
You are here because: You can’t do without classic Italian comfort foods.
You dine on: This cozy neighborhood spot offers tried and true Italian-American fare like baked clams, killer parma chicken, and rigatoni alla vodka. Are you even hungrier? Dover sole piccata and a sirloin for two make excellent dishes to share. Please note: Elina’s is currently BYOB until her liquor license is obtained.
1202 W. Grand Ave. (menu)
You are here because: You’ve followed Chef Zubair Mohajir around town and can’t wait to try out his latest concept.
You dine on: Aman is in the shed behind Wazwan, the popular restaurant of Chef Mohajir, known for his South Asian street food. The 25-seat space will host rotating tasting menus with modern Indian cuisine. octopus with lamb merguez.
1742 Division Street West (menu)
You are here because: You are a fan of Chef Macku Chan’s sushi creations and intrigued by his playful mix of Japanese influences.
You dine on: Komo specializes in blending Japanese culinary styles kaiseki and omakase through a varied experience that will change with each season. The current 7-course menu offers luxurious touches like a truffle and uni chawanmushi, as well as an A5 wagyu makimono with a quail egg.
738 W. Randolph St. (menu)
You are here because: Want a nightcap to end an evening in the West Loop.
You sip: The latest folks bar at Heisler Hospitality promises ‘chic classics’ and ‘funky highballs’ like Gin & Cel-Ray Soda with Brokers London Dry and house celery soda. You’ll also find Topo Chicos topped with Campari, Green Chartreuse or Amaro, as well as plenty of canned and draft beer options. Pro tip: arrive early for $ 2 Old Styles and cocktails, free during the first 15 minutes of operation; Stop by on weekends for live DJ entertainment that amplifies the colorful space.
1009 W. Lake St. (menu)
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