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.
Spring is unofficially underway — and the restaurant scene is suitably energized. The latest openings include two pandemic pop-ups that have new, permanent locations, plus a New York import of a popular “upscale dive bar.” There’s also a pair of new restaurant/retail hybrid concepts, ensuring you’ll be well-fed at home and on the go. These are Chicago’s best new restaurant openings from the past month.
You’re here because: You’ve followed chef Robert Maleski from his ghost kitchen days early in the pandemic and want another taste of his pies in Milly’s new location.
You’re dining on: A short list of pan-style pizzas piled high with fresh toppings like the Untitled #1 (with pepperoni, jalapeño, whole milk mozzarella, oregano and tomatoes) or the Clickbait (with olives, red onion, mushrooms, mini peppers, tomatoes, jalapeno, Calabrian chilis and fresh ricotta). Pizza orders are limited each day, so be sure to preorder on Tock.
1005 Argyle St. (map)
You’re here because: You need a change of scenery from your typical WFH digs, and the local chain’s fifth — and largest — location offers a welcome change of pace and a spacious outdoor patio..
You’re dining on: A full menu of classic Goddess fare, plus a wide selection of retail goods with an emphasis on local and woman-owned brands. Start your morning with a made-to-order maple chili bacon sandwich with fried egg, tomato jam, and gruyère, paired with a drink from the artisan coffee bar. You can also grab a locally made pastry from Evanston’s Hewn or take a trip to the 24-foot salad bar.
911 W. Randolph St. (map)
You’re here because: You fell in love with the cocktails, burgers and overall mood of the Mother’s Ruin locations in New York or Nashville.
You’re dining on: Bar food kicked up a notch like Old Bay waffle fries with caramelized onion dip, Cholula honey wings, and green chile beer cheese nachos with carnitas. Even heartier appetites will enjoy a fancier take on a McFish with Red Hot tartar sauce or the namesake double cheeseburger. Mother’s Ruin prides itself on offering high quality cocktails without the pretentious vibe and features a rotating selection of slushies on draft.
2943 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You need to grab some essentials before heading out for a picnic in Lincoln Park or at the surrounding beaches.
You’re dining on: Deli-style artisan sandwiches, soups, and salads with a modern twist from the owners of Evette’s. Think shredded lamb on ciabatta with whipped feta and chimichurri, served panini style, or a smoked whitefish sandwich with dill gremolata and bacon. Plenty of grab-and-go options are available, including meats and cheeses to make your own charcuterie board, plus snacks and other pantry staples.
352 W. Armitage Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re a fan of chef Tony Quartaro’s pastas from his pandemic pop-up days, and his years at some of Chicago’s top Italian restaurants, including Balena and Formento’s.
You’re dining on: A rotating selection of fresh, handmade pastas and sauces available for pickup (a delivery option is in the works). Choose from a rotating menu of restaurant-quality pasta dishes that can be prepared at home, like kale mafaldine cacio e pepe, canestri alla vodka, or a potato and black truffle raviolo.
1117 W. Grand Ave. (map)
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