The 7 Best Restaurants That Opened in Chicago This August
Soul food, a new tailgating haven and a brewery that works more like an incubator
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). Bon appétit.
Pilot Project Brewing
You’re here because: You’re up for local beers, coffee and pastries at this community brewery-meets-incubator.
You’re dining on: Locally crafted beers on draft from brewery startups, home brewers and local brands. Offerings include a Spanish tea IPA from Brewer’s Kitchen with Spanish melon, orange and hibiscus, barrel-aged coffee cider from Overgrown Orchard and Dark Matter, and kombucha from Luna Bay Booch. More of a coffee person? Java and pastries from Chef Mindy Segal and Aya Pastry are available during the day, in addition to cheese and charcuterie plates.
2140 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re a fan of chef Darius Williams, an internet-famous chef known for soul cooking inspired by his grandmother.
You’re dining on: The second outpost of Soul Crab (the first is in Atlanta) features fun takes on traditional southern staples. Stop by the casual dining room for dishes like buttermilk fried lobster with lemon aioli, lemon pepper wings, and crab-and-collard-stuffed egg rolls.
1904 N. Western Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’ve long awaited dinner at this intimate West Side dining room from chef/partner Charles Welch. Sink into a plush velvet booth in the sexy dining room for a fun dinner with friends or a post-work cocktail.
You’re dining on: The casual, artfully designed supper club features a menu of American-Mediterranean dishes. Think small plates like Caramelized Halloumi with za’atar, stone fruit, sunflower seeds and za’atar yogurt, or housemade pasta like bucatini with Spanish mackerel, heirloom tomato and sourdough. Mains include Head On Prawns and Pork Collar cooked in the restaurant’s central wood-fired oven. To drink: the wine menu comprises 75 bottles plus a nightly magnum program with wines by the glass or carafe, and there are seven classic cocktails include seven options from martinis to negronis, plus a large-format Americano.
2528 N. California Ave. (map)
Paulette’s Public Market
You’re here because: You need a pick-me-up meal or snack at this neighborhood grocery-meets-deli.
You’re dining on: This one-stop-shop has a little something for everyone: on-the-go meals and sandwiches like the Muffuletta or Jerk Vegetable on salted focaccia, salads, dips and sides, and soups like a Corn Chowder or Carrot Ginger Curry. Stock up on meat and cheese plates, flowers, and groceries from local Pilsen purveyors like El Milagro and Chocolat Uzma while you’re there.
1221 W. 18th St.(map)
You’re here because: You came to celebrate the art of the tailgate across 10,000 square feet of rooftop above Second City. The colorful indoor and outdoor space brings together countless seating options and great views of the Chicago skyline.
You’re dining on: The team behind The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group pairs tailgating games with elevated bar food and unique cocktails and beers. Try your hand at mini golf, bocce, bags or giant Jenga, plus bouncy houses and mechanical bull rides. Fuel up with steak kebabs and housemade nacho cheese Doritos, and wash it down with regular and large-format cocktails like the Gin & Chronic with gin, Green Chartreuse, CBD oil, lime and triple sec, plus tableside keg or cooler service, and a La Michoacana paleta cart with boozy and non-alcoholic ice pops.
1608 N. Wells St. (map)
Penny’s Noodle Shop
You’re here because: You’re nostalgic for Penny’s Noodle Shop’s Sheffield location, which makes its return after six long years.
You’re dining on: Affordable Thai classics in a cozy neighborhood spot from Chicago’s original pan-Asian restaurant. You’ll find your favorites like tom yum or tom kha gai soup, plus noodle bowls including the Spicy Basil Bowl with stir fried chicken or tofu in Penny’s spicy basil sauce, classic pad se eu, red curry rice and more.
3400 N. Sheffield Ave.
You’re here because: You’re working remotely and need some sustenance.
You’re dining on: The first cafe from Foxtrot, aka your favorite local corner store, offers a selection of dishes including all-day breakfast options like the Fox Trap (baked eggs, Hook’s cheddar, avocado, kale and zhoug on an everything bagel) or a Smoked Chicken Biscuit with spicy panko chicken, bread-and-butter pickles and honey on a cheddar biscuit. Lighter options include superfood smoothies and whole grain bowls, plus a full coffee and tea menu. Sticking around for dinner? Pair your plates with a cocktail, slushie, beer or wine with discounts offered during the 4-6 PM daily happy hour.
1562 N. Wells St.