Chicago | April 26, 2018 9:00 am

Table Stakes: April

A look at 7 new bars and restaurants for your must-do list

By The Editors

To keep tabs on every Chicago restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past thirty (or so). Let’s ride.

Photo: Francis Son 


Sweeping changes have come to Wrigleyville thanks to Hotel Zachary, the multimillion-dollar hospitality project that sits adjacent Wrigley Field’s iconic marquee. In addition to a smattering of new food options on premise — including Smoke Daddy, West Town Bakery and a notably anticipated second location Big Star — you’ll also find Mordecai, the two-level whiskey-centric cocktail bar that brings the talents of Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, A10) and chef Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle, Regards to Edith) together for the first time. With menu highlights like the chicken liver parfait and roast half chicken, the food is a different look for the neighborhood, but we’d wager Wrigleyville is ready for it. As for drinks, you can’t go wrong with the Improved Shandy, a summer crusher of ginger beer, bourbon, a baltic porter and lemon.
3632 N. Clark St. (map)

Fisk & Co.
The Loop

When it comes to Belgian bistros in Chicago, newcomer Fisk & Co. is about as delicious as it gets. You’re here for the mussels and frites, and enjoying those mussels and frites in a charming, brasserie-style setting, even though you’ll be in a space inside the Kimpton Hotel Monaco. Chef Austin Fausett, who comes by way of the respected Washington, D.C., restaurant Proof, is serving up both classic and progressive takes on the iconic culinary pairing, including Coconut Curry, fearlessly flavored with lemongrass, coriander and kaffir lime leaf. Meanwhile, the frites come with a collection of dipping sauces, from garlic aioli to chorizo aioli. And seeing that Belgians love their beer as much as their bivalves, there’s also an impressive rotating draft selection with some local favorites to wash it all down.
225 N. Wabash Ave. (map)

Photo: John Stoffer

Ludlow Liquors

From the crew that brought you Sportsman’s Club and Estereo comes Ludlow Liquors, a welcomed revamp and reimagining of the old Orbit Room space in Avondale. The bar, often crowded with neighborhood denizens out for an evening of good music and beer-and-a-shots (ordering a Ludlow Life is necessary), is also a breeding ground for surprisingly inventive cocktails, which should come as no surprise if you’re familiar with the group’s other projects. The bar program is only bested by Old Habits, the cocktail bar’s “permanent food installation,” which is slinging churched up Filipino-leaning bar bites, from dry-rubbed rib tips to lumpia egg rolls. All in, the pairing works, and if you can’t stand the the thought of the weekend madding crowds, a visit during the week is your best bet.
2959 N. California Ave. (map)

Photo: Galdones Photography

Bar Biscay
West Town

Admirers of the Lincoln Park seafood boite mfk. will find a kindred spirit in Bar Biscay, the new eatery focused on the coastal delights of the Basque country. In all likelihood, it’s because the restaurants share the same owners. But generally speaking, it’s an underserved culinary tradition Chicago ought to embrace: simple, unfussy cooking with a focus on ingredients, which, in the seaside town of San Sebastián has resulted in the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter in the world. Back in Chicago, you’ll wanna stick to the pintxos, or small plates, starting with the Cantabrian nduja topped with pickled egg before moving on to the oysters on the half shell and any selection of veggie dishes.
1405 W. Chicago Ave. (map)

Radio Anago
River North

Radio Anago, the new sushi spot from prolific Chicago restaurant group Hogsalt Hospitality (Au Cheval, Maude’s, Green Street Smoked Meats) has all the hallmarks of a Hogsalt restaurant: homey and intimate, with cohesive design quirks and never enough light during dinner service to snap the perfect food pic. The menu — cheekily illustrated — runs the gamut of sushi standbys, the strongest being under the nigiri “bites” section. Don’t miss the sea urchin and fatty tuna selections, and whatever you decide, do order the tempting Houji Fried Chicken, dusted with roasted matcha and edible gold.
226 W. Kinzie St. (map)

Photo: John Stoffer

Tied House

Built from the ground up next to Schuba’s Tavern, Tied House represents everything that is exciting right now in Chicago’s food scene: gorgeous design, world-class cocktails and showstopping American grub, all packaged in a neighborhood-friendly restaurant. The kitchen, helmed by Debbie Gold, who came up the ranks at Charlie Trotter’s before spending the last two decades racking up awards in Kansas City, has made it a habit to send out incredibly flavorful dish after another, from the beeswax-aged mackerel to the black garlic-flecked short ribs.
3157 N. Southport Ave. (map)

Sleeping Village

When it comes to music venues, Sleeping Village is something of a rare newcomer for Avondale. But the neighborhood is surely better for it. The all-day beer bar and music venue from the folks behind the Whistler in Logan Square houses an incredible 56 draft lines, with one of the largest selections of cider in the city. Expect to drink all of that, while enjoying some of the most curious and exciting live music programming the city has seen in a very long time.
3734 W. Belmont Ave. (map)

Main photo: Old Habits/Nick Murway