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.
Bar Ramone (2 images)
You’re here for: Primo whites, reds and apps from Lettuce Entertain You’s first wine bar.
You’re dining on: Mediterranean-inspired small plates like marinated goat cheese and patatas bravas, all washed down with a porron: Spanish for a shareable wine-drinking vessel. You’ll also go back often, given the ever-changing wine list.
441 N. Clark St. (map)
Images via Jeff Marini
TAO (3 images)
You’re here for: A night out with friends at the nightclub-meets-elevated Pan-Asian restaurant.
You’re dining on: Sea, sky and land options aplenty, including omakase-style sushi, steaks and peking duck, all served inside a 34,000-square-foot dining room housed in the former Chicago Historical Society building.
632 N. Dearborn St. (map)
Walton (3 images)
Walton Street Kitchen + Bar
You’re here for: A full meal in the bustling dining room or drinks in the intimate main-floor lounge of this chic-yet-approachable Gold Coast spot.
You’re dining on: Executive Chef Jon Keeley’s menu ranges from spit-roasted meats and pastas to a 22-ounce chateaubriand carved tableside. Pair your meal with wines from the restaurant’s temperature-controlled wine collection, accessed via a sliding ladder.
912 N. State St. (map)
Princi (2 images)
You’re here for: A morning pick-me-up, weekday lunch or evening aperitivo at the Starbucks-licensed boutique bakery and café from Milanese baker Rocco Princi.
You’re dining on: Artisan breads, fresh pastries, small plates and pizza inside an industrial West Loop cafe.
1000 W. Randolph St. (map)
Kyōten (3 images)
You’re here for: A refined omakase-style sushi experience from Austin chef, Otto Phan.
You’re dining on: Sushi made with ingredients mostly flown in from Japan. And at a $220 price point, they better be. Grab a spot at the eight -seat sushi counter and watch Chef Phan and his apprentice meticulously prepare each course.
2507 W. Armitage Ave. (map)
You’re here for: A casual dinner in the new permanent restaurant from the team behind Saved by the Max, opening this Friday.
You’re dining on: Global cuisine from Michelin star chef Brian Fisher inside thea ‘60s record shop-inspired record shop dining room. Enjoy dishes like Berkshire pork belly larb and creative house cocktails — one’s even made with Froot Loops cereal milk.
1939 W. North Ave. (map)
Motel (3 images)
You’re here for: A weeknight happy hour with friends or co-workers enjoyingto enjoy old-school and new-school cocktails, like the 96 -ounce Big Ass Mule.
You’re dining on: Modern American eats like with a variety of influences, all with a tongue-in-cheek nod to roadside indecorum: think tuna poke power bowls and , street tacos, mixed in with vintage-inspired specials like Salisbury steak and a Friday fish fry.
600 W. Chicago Ave. (map)
Union (2 images)
Union Full Board
You’re here for: A pre-Cubs gameCubs dinner at the casual restaurant inside Wrigleyville’s new Wheelhouse Hotel.
You’re dining on: Italian small plates and Detroit -style pizza, with toppings ranging from lamb sausage to roasted jalapeño crema. If you recognize the name, you’ve probably been to Union Pizzeria and/or Union Squared, which share the same owner.
3475 N. Clark St. (map)