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.
It’s official: That 90-degree day last Friday was likely summer’s swan song. Fall is here — and with it, a promising slate of new openings, from a super-anticipated new restaurant from Boka Restaurant Group to a 12,000-square-foot food hall. If that doesn’t suit the bill, see below for a New Orleans-inspired hangout and a reimagined supper club designed to transport you away from chillier months ahead. These are Chicago’s most buzzworthy openings in the past month.
You’re here because: Summer’s over: It’s time to see and be seen at Chicago’s newest West Loop opening.
You’re dining on: Italian fare from Boka chef Lee Wolen in a stunning dining room meant to evoke the outdoors. Menu standouts include arancini with ‘nduja aioli, wood fired meatballs, cacio e pepe ricotta dumplings and the house take on chicken parm. Drink it down with your choice from a wide selection of Italian-focused wines by the glass, 80+ bottles and a cocktail program featuring amaro and vermouth, plus modern classics like a salted rosemary paloma.
564 W. Randolph St. (map)
You’re here because: Food hall dining is back, at the first of two locations of this NYC import.
You’re dining on: Grub from 20 vendors across a 12,000-square-foot Loop space. Urbanspace features vendors old and new to the Chicago market and marks the return of Isla Pilipina, plus a second outpost of Evanston’s famed Edzo’s. From donuts and sushi to BBQ and modern Indian, there’s something for even the choosiest among us. A bar from the folks behind Sparrow and Bangers & Lace makes this a suitable spot for meeting up with friends or co-workers. A second Urbanspace location will open inside the Willis Tower in 2022.
15 W. Washington St. (map)
You’re here because: You love Cajun cuisine and NOLA vibes.
You’re dining on: A taste of the French Quarter from chef Louie Yu. Think small plates like catfish nuggets, oyster bites and boudin balls, plus larger options like jambalaya and po’ boys with a Chicago option featuring Italian beef and étouffée gravy. Cocktails are a focus here: Take your pick from an array of classic drinks like the Storyville Hurricane, French Quarter Collins or the Va Va Vieux Carre. Save room for beignets and bananas foster for dessert.
712 N. Clark St. (map)
Fame Supper Club
You’re here because: You’re up for a night on the town complete with over-the-top eats and live musical performances.
You’re dining on: Modern American fare from Prosecco’s chef, Mark Sparacino. The musicians aren’t the only ones putting on a show: Menu standouts include chorizo and manchego-stuffed dates presented under smoked glass and cacio e pepe finished tableside in a Pecorino-Romano cheese wheel. Try one of 10 specialty cocktails like the No Flash Photography, with tequila, ancho chile liqueur, passion fruit, agave and lime.
157 W. Ontario St. (map)
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