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.
Chicago is ramping up for what looks to be another year of rebuilding its local dining scene. The city’s newest concepts include a taste of Mexico City from chef Jonathan Zaragoza in Logan Square and a Greek hotspot in the West Loop from DineAmic Hospitality.
And while completely new restaurants are getting their start, others are reinventing themselves. Take Omakase Room, a 10-seat sushi experience housed inside Sushi-San, or Aikana, a “Pan-American” spot that just opened with the same space and owners from Grace and Yugen.
With that, here are five of the best restaurant openings of 2022 — so far.
Con Todo Cantina y Cucina
You’re here because: You’re a fan of chef Jonathan Zaragoza and can’t wait to try what he has in store on his latest menu, which is takeout and delivery only.
You’re dining on: Mexican-American eats like tacos with al pastor, brisket, or fish, plus tangy chicken wings with Valentina butter. Larger appetites can opt for the smash burger torta with all the fixings or a grilled adobo chicken served with handmade corn tortillas.
2852 N. Kedzie Ave. (map)
TriBecca’s Sandwich Shop
You’re here because: You’ve fallen in love with the sandwiches from Sunday Dinner Club sous chef Becca Grothe at her pop-ups around the city.
You’re dining on: Creative sandwiches and potato-based donuts from husband-and-wife team Becca Grothe and Cam Waron have found their permanent home in Avondale. Order TriBecca’s famous cubano (available in its classic state or with tofu), a modern take on the horseshoe sandwich with Slagel beef patties and pepper jack cheese sauce, or the spicy tuna with pickled banana peppers and white cheddar. Cam’s Tuber’s Donuts will also be available in flavors like lemon pepper poppy seed and vanilla ice’d.
2949 W. Belmont Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re in search of a taste of the Greek life in the dead of Chicago’s winter. The team behind Bar Siena and Prime & Provisions brings a massive dining room to the West Loop, perfect for a night out with friends.
You’re dining on: Wood- and charcoal-grilled dishes from a pair of chefs straight out of Greece. Try the saganaki prawns, charcoal grilled meatballs or grilled octopus to start, slow roasted lamb gyros with “60 second” pita, and a modern take on pastitsio served deconstructed with black truffle bechamel. Sip on playful cocktails with a Greek spin like the Santorini spritz with Greek vermouth or a glass of wine from a list emphasizing small Greek producers.
905 W. Fulton Market (map)
Omakase Room at Sushi-San
You’re here because: You’re a sushi aficionado who never turns down an omakase experience.
You’re dining on: An 18-course omakase prepared by master sushi chef Kaze Chan in a relaxed, intimate setting. Daily fish deliveries ensure you’ll have a unique dining experience each time. Recent courses include akami (lean bluefin tuna), sawara (Spanish mackerel), wagyu beef, and uni ice cream. Drink options are extensive, including 100 bottles of whisky, a variety of sakes, and an à la carte cocktail list. Wine and sake pairings can also be added to your experience. Seatings only take place 5:30pm and 8:30pm Thursdays-Saturdays, so be sure to book ahead.
63 W. Grand Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re always first in line for the city’s latest fine-dining restaurants.
You’re dining on: Latin fusion fare served in a jungle-like ambience. Aikana’s menu is unique in that it combines a variety of Latin influences from Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina and more. Menu selections include an octopus tiradito to start, churrascaria with peanut chimichurri or pork shank with beans and cabbage slaw to share, and flan with guava cotton candy for dessert. Well-known beverage director, Benjamin Schiller, is behind the creative cocktail list featuring drinks such as the Aikana with rum, starfruit, citrus and dehydrated watermelon. Late night, Aijana morphs into a cocktail lounge with a menu of snacks including ceviche and arepas.
652 W. Randolph St. (map)
This article was featured in the InsideHook Chicago newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Windy City.