The Best New Chicago Restaurants Cover All Hours of the Day
Start with a modern diner, move to an Indian spot with a gin-and-tonic trolley, then see where the night takes you
The sheer number of new restaurants opening in the city is reminiscent of a pre-pandemic era. We’re talking double-digit entrants from chefs who are no stranger to Chicago’s dining scene, including a modern Indian spot in River North that presents exceptional, innovative cuisine — and throws in a gin-and-tonic trolley for good measure. This month also brings two new offshoots from the teams behind Big Star and fine-dining locale Ever, respectively, plus a modern diner offering upscale takes on American fare. Closing out our picks is the newest location of a plant-based mini chain, and an all-day wine cafe from three industry vets.
You’re here because: You’re eager to sample chef Sujan Sarkar’s ambitious reinterpretations of Indian cuisine.
You’re dining on: Pick from a vegetarian or meat-centric tasting menu, featuring courses like a passion fruit tart with buckwheat and avocado, and lamb with peas, coconut and potato pave, plus optional wine pairings. Not ready to commit to a tasting menu? An à la carte menu is also available, with standouts like pork belly with pickled peach and apricot. Indienne’s cocktail list explores chef Sarkar’s travels, with nods to global destinations like Kolkata with Indian whiskey, fresh ginger and roasted mango elixir, plus there’s a traveling gin-and-tonic cart for aficionados to customize their cocktail.
217 W. Huron St. (map)
You’re here because: You’re a long-time Big Star supporter looking to shake things up.
You’re dining on: Big Star classics like tacos and strong margaritas, plus seafood newcomers like aguachiles, ceviches and tuna tostadas. Large-format entrees include a giant sea bass with guajillo adobo and caramelized onions, and cochinita pibil with achiote salsa and poblano rajas. Kick back and enjoy some vinyl and cassette tunes in the 6,000-square-foot space while you sip on newly crafted drinks like the hibiscus and mezcal agua fresca or the Ladies of the Canyon cocktail, featuring tequila, pear brandy, white wine, elderflower, lime and cucumber.
551 N. Ogden Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re looking for a casual cafe to impress a wine-obsessed friend.
You’re dining on: Wine-friendly food and natural wines from Chicago restaurant industry vets. Pompette’s all-day operation means you’ll have a unique experience depending on when you stop by. By day you’ll find an array of freshly baked pastries from Aya Pastry, as well as salads, sandwiches and quiche; by night you’ll find a selection of small plates and charcoal-grilled entrees like black sea bass with white beans, leeks, Swiss chard and artichoke. Pair it all with a low ABV cocktail or a glass of old-world natural wine.
1960 N. Damen Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re dining with herbivores who want something other than a stuffed portobello mushroom.
You’re dining on: Asian-inspired plant-based fare including noodles, sushi and dumplings. PLANTA Queen is the latest of the vegan mini-chain’s locations to open and brings the same vibrant ambiance it’s known for. Signature menu items include the ahi watermelon nigiri and broccoli with sweet chili and peanut sauce. Cleverly named cocktails like the Herb Your Enthusiasm with Thai chili-infused tequila, orange liqueur, lime and pineapple, a lineup of beer and wine and plenty of spirit-free concoctions round out the drink offerings. It’s worth noting a rotating lineup of weekly specials include half-priced bottles of wine, $20 dumpling platters and $27 all-you-can-eat maki on select days.
413 N. Clark St. (map)
You’re here because: You want classic diner food kicked up a notch.
You’re dining on: Elevated American classics from the team behind West Loop’s Press Room. Old school meets new school with inventive dishes like carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese frosting, short rib grilled cheese with raclette, cornichons and honey, and a crab cake benedict. The diner’s aesthetic matches its menu, with a modern yet comfy design. Drink options are solid as well, including coffee from Passion House Coffee Roasters and fresh-pressed juices and immunity shots.
2012 W. Irving Park Rd. (map)
You’re here because: You’ve just had dinner at Ever and want to extend the fun and whimsy next door.
You’re dining on: Upscale spirits and cocktails in a sleek and futuristic space. Pull up to the curved bar for cocktail-making theatrics or grab a plush booth for a more intimate experience. Alongside rare spirits, you’ll find beers and an extensive list of wines by the glass plus unique takes on classic cocktails. After offers drinks across all price points, alongside a menu of caviar, grilled bites and small plates.
1338 W. Fulton St. (map)
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