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.
You’re here for: The famous Mott Burger, when you don’t want to wait for one at Mott Street.
You’re dining on: A Mott Burger with American cheese, hoisin aioli, sweet potato frizzles, pickled jalapeños, pickles, miso butter and onions. Pair it with handcut fries or an order of everything chicken wings. Save room for housemade soft serve in a Taiyaki (fish-shaped) cone.
You’re here for: A taste of Detroit-style pan pizza or weekend brunch.
You’re dining on: Drool-worthy Motor City pizza like the Red Devil, topped with generous dollops of chevre, pepperoni and chili roasted garlic. Then head back for brunch, where you’ll find heaping portions of Mexican favorites like chilaquiles and breakfast quesadillas, or the sinfully rich Whiskey Caramel French toast.
San Soo Korean BBQ (2 images)
San Soo Korean BBQ
You’re here for: A taste of Korean BBQ with a group of friends, excellent cocktails included.
You’re dining on: The newest location from the Korean BBQ institution features indoor (electric) and outdoor (charcoal) grilling options for enjoying kalbi, brisket, pork belly and hot stone rice bowls. Plus: Korean twists on classic cocktails.
Merchant (2 images)
You’re here for: Globally influenced grub and drinks with a relaxed neighborhood vibe.
You’re dining on: More than just bar food. Think a mix of Japanese, Mexican and Italian foods, like a fried rice arancini with kimchi. It’s also located in the old Dunlay’s on the Square space.
Omakase Yume (2 images)
You’re here for: A special occasion, or dinner with a sushi lover who’s tough to impress: there are only eight seats, as is tradition at many of Tokyo’s best omakase spots.
You’re dining on: The set menu features course after course of simply prepared nigiri by SangTae Park. And he knows a thing or two about the proper care and feeding of raw fish, having helped open Mirai, Japonaise and Badaya prior to Yume.
etta (2 images)
You’re here for: Seasonally focused dishes cooked over a wood-fired hearth from Chef Danny Grant of Maple & Ash.
You’re dining on: Fire-baked focaccia with ricotta-honey and truffle, followed by grilled vegetables, wood-fired pizzas and housemade pastas like the Ramp Cavatelli with slow-roasted spring lamb, mint, house ricotta and wild onion ash.
Free Rein (2 images)
You’re here for: After-work dinner or a weekday lunch from Michelin star chef Aaron Lirette.
You’re dining on: Raw bar selections, seasonal starters like Sweet Corn Soup, and hearty meat and seafood entrees like the Strip Loin with charred lettuce and miso. Find it all inside the newly opened St. Jane Hotel on Michigan Ave.
Image 1: Neil Burger
Image 2: Barry Brecheisen
Main image: Barry Brecheisen