The 5 Best Restaurants That Opened in Chicago in May
Take a global culinary tour without leaving the city
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 30 (or so). Bon appétit.
From casual matcha lattes and veggie-forward bowls to modern French fare, the latest entrants to Chicago’s dining scene offer something for every occasion. Some of this month’s more casual openings include a highly Instagrammable West Loop matcha cafe and a local mini-chain serving plant-forward bowls and burgers in Lincoln Park. Here, the five best new openings from the past month.
You’re here because: It’s officially patio season, and this West Loop hot spot serves as the backdrop for a chill night out with friends or pre-/post- drinks for nearby United Center events.
You’re dining on: Dips and burritos from chef Rick Ortiz of Antique Taco fame. These aren’t your average burritos either: Think green chile pork variety with smoky pinto beans, grilled onions, chicharrones and escabeche. Don’t forget an order of the baked queso with chorizo to pair with one of Bunker’s unique house cocktails, like the Water or Dinosaurs combining popcorn-infused tequila, chile amaro, chamoy, green pepper and lemon. Plus there’s a lineup of local craft beers and a short list of wines by the glass or bottle.
1515 W. Monroe St. (map)
You’re here because: You’re out with a social media-obsessed date who needs the perfect shot of this pastel-hued, matcha-focused cafe, the first of its kind in Chicago.
You’re dining on: All things matcha. Think layered matcha drinks like Purple Haze with matcha, lavender, CBD and oat milk, plus hot and iced matcha drinks like matcha horchata and matcha chai. If you’re looking for a bite, you’ll also find a curated menu of toasts, smoothie bowls and bubble waffles, including a funfetti variety topped with strawberries, banana and Nutella syrup.
1017 W. Lake Street (map)
You’re here because: You’re looking for a quick lunch on a meatless Monday from this local mini chain with West Coast vibes.
You’re dining on: Plant-forward sandwiches, bowls, burgers and more including Elephant + Vine’s famous cauli-wings available in Buffalo, BBQ or sweet chili varieties. Burgers and fried chick’n sandwiches are piled high with flavor-forward toppings like the Baja Burger with pico de gallo, avocado and sriracha aioli. Pair your meal with a dairy-free milkshake or fresh fruit smoothie like the Strawberry Bliss, with strawberry, banana, apple and pineapple juice.
2315 Lincoln Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re a long-time supporter of Le Bouchon and La Sardine — and can’t wait to dine at their latest outpost.
You’re dining on: Impressive French fare with a twist. Interesting finds include steak tartare with banh mi pickles and shio kombu, foie gras tacos with salsa macha and grape jam, and seared black cod with sweet potato, green curry, bok choy and black oyster mushrooms. Looking for something more classic? Don’t fret — you’ll also find seafood towers, French onion soup and traditional steak frites. Wash it all down with a glass or bottle from the French and American producer-led wine list, or a Champagne cocktail.
700 N. Sedgwick St. (map)
You’re here because: You’re always up for checking out the latest West Loop hotspot.
You’re dining on: Playful pan-Latin cuisine featuring vibrant presentations and influences from Mexico, Colombia and Spain. Start with lobster flautas with lime serrano crema or grilled octopus with crispy black rice. Smaller bites include an array of fusion tacos like the “que-FC” with fried chicken, tamarind gravy and aji amarillo aioli, atop handmade tortillas. Continuing on the playful theme, try the Churroulette, an order of homemade churros with one laced with habanero pepper. Cocktails are a strong focus at Tabu, which claims to house the largest collection of tequila and mezcal in Chicago. Opt for an agave flight or a cocktail with a touch of whimsy like the deconstructed Tequila sunrise or the Tijuana Unicorn Show, with mezcal, prickly pear and lemon. There’s also a Latin-influenced wine list, plus draft and bottled beers.
401 N. Morgan St. (map)
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