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.
Image via Sammy Faze
You’re here because: You’re up for an intimate and personalized food-and-drink experience from some of Chicago’s top restaurant pros: the team behind Oriole.
You’re dining on: A five-course omakase-style tasting menu pairing Chef Noah Sandoval’s plates with Julia Momose’s mix of cocktails, spirit-free beverages and more. Each course is tailored to the diners’ preferences and mood, ensuring a truly unique and memorable evening. Not up for a full dinner? Grab a table for a la carte plates and drinks in the tranquil dining room. Ancient Japanese woodworking art, aka kumiko, adorns the warm space.
630 W. Lake Street (map)
Grand Image via Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road
You’re here because: You want a taste of Modern Indian cuisine from a former Topolobampo chef.
You’re dining on: Chef Behzad Khan’s personal culinary influences dictate much of what is on the menu here. While you’ll find some familiar Indian dishes such as biryani and pakora, you’ll also see non-traditional items like livers cooked in the on-site tandoor oven, as well as a touch of unique ingredients: think king crab masala or mushroom and cheese naan. Wash it down with a boozy lassi spiked with two types of rum.
1417 W Fullerton Ave. (map)
Image via Garrett Sweet
The Swill Inn
You’re here for: The toothsome twosome of Southern-inflected bar grub from Chef Lamar Moore and drinks from Dustin Drankiewicz.
You’re dining on: Creative comfort food in the former Paramount Room space, which maintains its tavern-style charm. Try the Swill Burger smothered with homemade pimento cheese, or snacks like poutine, a walking taco (taco fixings mixed into a bag of chips), or everything bagel biscuits. Stick around for a late-night cocktail like the Mezcal Negroni at the Chit Chat Lounge, located directly downstairs.
415 N Milwaukee Ave. (map)
Image via Carolina Mariana Rodríguez
Brothers and Sisters
You’re here because: You’re in need of a cold-weather hideout at this bottle shop/cafe/market.
You’re dining on: The beautiful 70s-influenced space is multi-functional, meaning you can stop in at any time to pick up booze and snacks to go (think small producer cheese, charcuterie) or plop down for a full meal. Dinner options included lamb meatballs with almond gremolata and larger plates like the roasted chicken with black garlic bread pudding. Breakfast and midday sandwiches and sweets, including doughnuts and Aya Bakery pastries, round out the all-day cafe menu.
2119 W. Chicago Ave. (map)
Image via Victoria Sprung
No Bones Beach Club
You’re here because: You want a meat-free meal that won’t make you miss the meat; this is the third location of the casual vegan outpost, which also boasts locations in Portland and Seattle.
You’re dining on: Bites like Buffalo Cauliflower Wings and Eggplant Spears with poblano-paprika aioli, sandwiches like the scallion-seared tofu banh mi, or larger entrees like the jackfruit flautas with cashew crema. The restaurant’s Hawaiian/beach vibe might make you forget you’re in the thick of Chicago winter, especially once you’ve got a tropical cocktail in hand.
1943 W North Ave. (map)
Image via Twisted Hippo
You’re here because: You’re a fan of local beer and want to hang out at the latest (and most colorful) taproom to hit the Chicago craft beer scene.
You’re dining on: Bar snacks like the house beer-battered cheese curds with balsamic wort syrup glaze, pickled peppers and spicy sriracha mayo, or sandwiches like the piled-high fried chicken sandwich. Twisted Hippo also offers 16 taps that house four core beers (including a honey ale and oatmeal rye stout), along with a dozen guest pours. They offer 32-ounce crowlers and 4-packs to go, as well.
2925 W Montrose Ave. (map)
Main image via Carolina Mariana Rodríguez