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.
Photos via Robin Subar
Tinker to Evers
You’re here because: You feel like trading in beer buckets and sticky Wrigleyville floors for an upscale drinking experience inside a baseball-themed cocktail lounge.
You’re dining on: Snacks like bacon and sea salt “Cracker Jack” popcorn, charcuterie or burrata served with charred corn, knob onion and calabrian peppers. Pair those snacks with cocktails including the Mr. Sunshine, an ode to Ernie Banks, which mixes together Bols Genever gin, Bigallet Thyme Liqueur, lemon and Angostura bitters.
3475 N. Clark St. (map)
Photo via About Last Knife
About Last Knife
You’re here for: A swanky but unpretentious steak dinner inside the lobby of the brand-new Hotel Julian.
You’re dining on: Steak, of course. Options include beef Wellington by the slice and a 16-oz. T-bone served with your choice of accompaniments, including house garlic herb butter and red wine sauce from Executive Chef Dan Weiland.
168 N. Michigan Ave. (map)
Photo via Crab Cellar
You’re here for: An all-out crab and burger feast paired with bottomless seasonal slushies and schooners of craft beer.
You’re dining on: Unlimited Alaskan king crab and Slagel Farms Beef burgers topped with roquefort, crispy onions and dijonnaise until you say, “when.” Feeling extra gluttonous? There’s an option to add on unlimited lobster and bottomless sides, including mac and cheese, fries and jalapeño hush puppies.
1962 N. Halsted St. (map)
Photo via Le Sud Chicago
You’re here for: A casual weeknight meal in the heart of Roscoe Village.
You’re dining on: French Mediterranean cuisine inside a beautiful bi-level dining room. Favorites include the decadent foie gras tart, steak frites and pan-roasted duck breast. Be sure to save room for the Basque cake with date, honey, almond, orange and Chantilly crème.
2301 W. Roscoe St. (map)
Photo via Heidi Geldhauser
You’re here for: A night out with friends and sweeping views of the city from a South Loop rooftop.
You’re dining on: Shareable plates including beet cured salmon, panko fried oysters and peking duck tacos. Sip on cocktails made with locally sourced spirits across 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, with a karaoke room, boardroom, club bar and solarium bar.
133 E. Cermak Rd. (map)
Photos via Real Good Stuff Co.
Real Good Stuff Co.
You’re here for: A quick bite or snack at the corner store food hall concept from the team behind Real Good Juice Co.
You’re dining on: Hot bar and grab-and-go items like toasts and build-your-own breakfast sandwiches, a matcha bar, frozen yogurt and juice-filled popsicles.
701 N. Wells St. (map)
Photo via Simeon Frierson
You’re here for: Booze, books and baked goods from the owners of Hyde Park’s Fabiana’s Bakery.
You’re dining on: The bar and restaurant features a full comfort food menu as well as desserts from Fabiana Carter, along with craft beer and the piece de resistance: cocktails named after classic books. Not into booze? Grab a coffee or tea and immerse yourself in a book or two inside a dining room that gives off a dignified library/wine bar vibe.
1658 E. 53rd Street (map)
Main image via Crab Cellar