This month, Chicago’s culinary scene is taking diners on a global tour to France, Italy, Japan and more. We’re talking plenty of handmade pasta in a warm West Loop space, plus a River North restaurant serving an impressive lineup of both pizzas and pastries. Le Select, the long-awaited collaboration between Boka Restaurant Group and chef Daniel Rose, has Chicagoans buzzing, while chef Jonathon Sawyer brings the heat to the Willis Tower with his live-fire cooking restaurant, Kindling.
Read on for our picks of the best restaurant openings this month.
You’re here because: Chicago’s blustery weather has you seeking a piping hot bowl of ramen.
You’re dining on: This mini-chain (and the second location in Illinois) specializes in classic ramen broths including tonkotsu and shio. Familiar appetizers like popcorn chicken and pork bao are great starters while another standout is its omurice, a traditional egg omelet opened and served tableside over a bed of rice and topped with curry sauce or demi-glace. Order a refreshing Thai iced tea or cucumber lemonade to counter the spicy dishes.
6 W. Hubbard St. (map)
You’re here because: You’re meeting coworkers for happy hour or dinner in the Loop at the newest restaurant inside the Willis Tower’s Catalog.
You’re dining on: Dishes from the live-fire kitchen helmed by chef Jonathon Sawyer. Grab a seat around the live fire (by reservation only) to see the theatrics at play. Kick things off with wood-fired oysters served four different ways, like the Versaille style with hollandaise, caviar and fine herbs, or the ash-roasted beets and burrata with candied walnuts and herb dressing. Intriguing larger plates like the rotisserie duck rigatoni with pumpkin and sage brown butter or a pastrami-spiced short rib are worth a try, but if you’re into the classic meat-and-potato pairing you’ll also be in luck. Take the beef-fat-glazed hasselback potato and “Mrs. Oleary” 8 oz. filet with red wine demi-glace and fried shallots. The drink menu features a spot for classics from well-known Chicago bars like Billy Sunday and Scofflaw. A 200-seat outdoor terrace is set to open this summer, providing the perfect backdrop for happy hour when appetizers like confit chicken wings and “Expense Account Nachos” with short rib are available for half price.
202 S. Franklin St.. (map)
You’re here because: You don’t want to decide between pizzas and pastries.
You’re dining on: An all-day menu of pizza, pastries, gelato and coffee in a cozy River North storefront. Nine pizza options include a mushroom variety with manchego, alfredo and chili flake, and a sausage and peppers pie with Italian sausage and piquillo peppers. Not in the mood for pizza? You’ll still find plenty of savory options from a goat cheese bread pudding and shrimp angel hair pasta to a short rib parmesan sandwich with giardiniera. Satisfy your sweet tooth with flawlessly executed pastries like a passion fruit rum baba or a banana-citrus cream tart, plus gelato served solo or part of an affogato. Craft beers, wines and inventive cocktails inspired by pastries like a carrot cake Old Fashioned round out the offerings.
546 N. Wells St. (map)
The 8 Best Restaurants That Opened in Chicago in 2022The cuisine spans the globe from Japan and India to France and Greece
You’re here because: You’re a whisky fiend who appreciates fine food as much as fine drink.
You’re dining on: Rare pours of The Macallan (that’s the “M” in M room) paired with a tasting menu inspired by whisky. The 10-course menu riffs on ingredients used in the whisky-making process. Think barley, yeast and oak plus plenty of themed courses. One highlight is the American wagyu beef Wellington topped with a Macallan demi-glace. An optional beverage pairing features craft cocktails and neat pours of Macallan, but a wine pairing is also available. Hesitant to commit to a tasting menu? Bar seating is offered for those who prefer to order dishes and drinks a la carte, like The Six Pillars featuring Macallan 30-year Old Double Cask, demerara, bitters and Valencia oil with an eye-popping $1,000 price tag.
450 N. Clark St. (map)
You’re here because: You’re in search of a casual Valentine’s Day meal out.
You’re dining on: Homemade pasta dishes are the name of the game at this simple West Loop space. Choose from traditional pastas like penne arrabbiata and bucatini carbonara or signature pasta creations like short rib gnocchi and duck confit pappardelle. Cheese lovers will delight in four regional offerings from burrata to stracciatella served with optional pairings like gazpacho or prosciutto di Parma, while other non-pasta small plate standouts include a branzino ceviche and pan-fried chickpea meatballs. A short list of desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta with calamansi gelee will take up what’s left of your stomach space.
1154 W. Fulton Market St.. (map)
You’re here because: You’ve dined at chef Daniel Rose’s Le Coucou and are thrilled he’s made his return to Chicago.
You’re dining on: The Paris-inspired dining room adorned with ruby and brass tones makes for the perfect setting for enjoying the hometown chef’s French brasserie menu which is heavy on traditional French cuisine and techniques. Kick things off with favorites like beef tartare, mussels or escargot, plus bone marrow topped with cherry liqueur. Entree specials include a decadent steak au poivre, seared scallops in a French curry sauce, and duck breast a l’orange. Le Select’s dessert menu can’t be skipped; the profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce or “XL” eclair make for a sweet ending. Le Select’s upstairs cocktail lounge, Bar 504, makes for a sexy pre- or post-dinner drink to extend your night out.
504 N. Wells St. (map)
Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.