Chicago’s best restaurant openings this month range from super casual to super swanky: we’re talking a takeout-focused South Side barbecue joint where turkey legs come topped with mac and cheese, plus a vegan taqueria in Logan Square from the owner’s of Bloom Plant Based Kitchen. Looking for more of an upscale experience? A River West 10-seat sushi bar might be the hottest ticket in town, while new tenants inside the former Elizabeth space are hoping their seasonal tasting menu is also Michelin-worthy. Finally, two pandemic-born restaurants reemerge in Lakeview and Lincoln Square, bringing comforting chicken dishes and Filipino fare to diners, respectively.
Read on for the six best restaurants that opened in February.
You’re here because: You fancy a fancy night out.
You’re dining on: A seasonally driven tasting menu in the former Elizabeth location. James Beard-nominated chef Christian Hunter has big shoes to fill in this space. He takes diners on a culinary tour sprinkled with interesting international influences. Recent courses included beets with harissa, feta and duqqa granola and a pierogi with mushroom, crushed potato, cultured cream and cranberry. Sweets include an ice cream sandwich with toasted rice, ginger and furikake, as well as a foie gras crème brûlée. Wine and spirit-free pairings are available to add onto your experience.
4835 N. Western Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re on a mission to try every omakase in Chicago.
You’re dining on: A 17-course sushi omakase menu at one of 10 seats, by reservation only. Head here early for a pre-dinner whiskey cocktail, then grab a seat at the bar where all the action takes place. Each course highlights fish flown in from Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market, including blue fin tuna with homemade soy sauce and fresh wasabi and hamachi with sweet corn pudding and sourdough breadcrumbs. The signature dessert, a matcha bonbon, is served with green tea brewed with plum wine, smoked lavender honey and yuzu. The preset menu means the only decision you’ll be making is whether or not you want a beverage pairing or à la carte drinks.
415 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
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You’re here because: You’re a sucker for good barbecue.
You’re dining on: Barbecue from chef Tyris Bell, who also owns Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square with his brother Darnell Reed. The takeout-focused spot features a menu inspired by his family’s rich barbecue traditions. Try the smoked rib tips and fried chicken wing combo, or the turkey leg smothered with mac and cheese. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy Bell Heir’s brisket: with mac and cheese or atop pizza, a bed of fries or a barbecue cheeseburger.
704 W. 47th St. (map)
You’re here because: You loved their food from their former home inside Revival Food Hall.
You’re dining on: Filipino dishes across three different menu sections: small plates, grilled bites and larger shared plates. Highlights include the lumpiang Shanghai (crispy pork spring rolls) with sweet and sour dipping sauce, longganisa vigan (garlic pork sausage), the bistek (short ribs with calamansi onions) and bagnet (crispy pork belly) served with rice. Boonie’s is currently BYOB, so bring your favorite beer or wine to enjoy inside the dark and modern space.
4337 N. Western Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re still craving chef Lee Wolen’s fried chicken from his pandemic pop-up days.
You’re dining on: Rotisserie chicken, fried chicken sandwiches and comforting sides in a casual environment from the Boka Restaurant Group chef. Try the crispy fried chicken or rotisserie chicken sandwich, or opt for a quarter, half or whole rotisserie chicken. Sides are plentiful and include mac and cheese, dill schmaltz smashed potatoes, sweet corn elote and waffle fries with GG’s spice rub. A chocolate dirt pudding and oatmeal cream pie round out the indulgent menu.
3325 N. Southport Ave. (map)
You’re here because: You’re a fan of the plant-based movement — as well as chef Rodolfo Cuadros of Bloom Plant Based Kitchen and Amaru.
You’re dining on: All vegan everything. We’re not talking processed meat substitutes, though. Instead, think a veggie-forward menu including a root vegetable and legume trompo used for crispy al pastor tacos on hand-pressed tortillas, plus a nopal milanesa torta and meat-free chicharrones with salsa. A short menu of cocktails and beer is coming soon once they’ve secured a liquor license.
2763 N. Milwaukee Ave. (map)
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