After tasting food and sipping beverages all day at the National Restaurant Association Show, which runs Saturday through Tuesday at McCormick Place, it’s time to head out and explore. Fortunately, Chicago is full of concepts to scout for menu and operational ideas. Here are some of the newest additions to a lively dining scene.
Helmed by Chef Dan Weiland, ALK, the recently opened steak bar on the ground floor of the Hotel Julian offers carefully crafted cocktails and expertly curated dishes in an ambient space. Guests can indulge in innovative signature dishes such as Beef Wellington by the slice with wild mushroom duxelles, prosciutto, red wine bordelaise and whipped potatoes; a 16-ounce ribeye with house bearnaise and Brussels sprouts; and even vegetarian- and vegan-friendly items such as the roasted mushroom soup with house-made focaccia croutons and olive oil.
168 N. Michigan Ave.
Located on the fifth and sixth floors of 900 N. Michigan Shops, this new food hall offers a chic retreat from the bustle of Michigan Avenue. Guests can choose from a diverse range of food and beverages across 16 unique vendors. The second floor features the spacious Bar & Study, where guests can browse the expansive menu and order from a collection of curated beverages while enjoying views of Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue.
900 N. Michigan Ave.
Named for the Atlantic coastline along the Bay of Biscay, this newcomer focuses on the seafood and pastoral richness along the north coast of Spain and the west coast of France. Rustic Basque-style dishes include a range of tapas and large plates; the decor is modern and clean, and the ambience resembles a house party. A Basque-inspired cocktail menu and affordable wines contribute to the atmosphere, which Chicago magazine dubbed a “trippy charmer.” Bar Biscay is the latest product from husband-and-wife team Scott Worsham and Sari Zernich Worsham, who own the Iberian-focused restaurant MFK with partner Joe Campagna.
1450 W. Chicago Ave.
Photograph courtesy of The Hoxton Chicago
Situated on the rooftop of the new Hoxton Chicago hotel, the latest concept from chef Stephanie Izard and Boka Restaurant Group celebrates Peru. The menu’s two sections include cold plates, such as a quinoa avocado salad and tempura-battered potatoes with fresh crab; and a hot section, with options such as chicharron with lupini beans, tomato and queso fresco or steamed mussels with huacatay, a black mint paste. Cocktails incorporate classic Peruvian flavors and ingredients. Open for dinner only, the majority of seating is set aside for walk-in customers and hotel guests.
200 N. Green St.
This Hoxton Chicago hotel eatery from chef Chris Pandel and Boka Restaurant Group offers modern Mediterranean fare in an all-day format. The menu favors small, shareable plates inspired by the entire region, with many of the ingredients created in house, including a fermented carrot kefir, cultured butter, Spanish-style chorizo, breads and crackers. Mediterranean-inspired cocktails and a 100-bottle wine list featuring selections from the region are available, with 15-20 wines sold by the glass.
200 N. Green St.
Venture into the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood for Etta, a relaxed restaurant with a large rooftop deck and inspired, rustic cooking. Chef Danny Grant prepares many menu items in the restaurant’s wood-fired hearth, including thin-crust pizzas, vegetables, seafood and meats. Large-format dishes are for sharing, one of which is the signature Pig Picnic featuring fire-roasted shoulder and crisp belly with marinated cucumbers, pickled carrots and hearth bread. The wine program encourages interaction, with service from a porron—a glass pitcher shaped like a watering can from which the wine is poured directly into guests’ mouths. Traditional wine service is also available, and there’s a full cocktail and beer list as well.
1840 W North Ave.
Chicago boasts several Fairgrounds cafes, which feature dozens of coffee choices from craft roasters and specialty teas. But the new location that opened in the Fulton Market district includes a full bar. On offer are tea- and coffee-infused cocktails that are Fairgrounds’ riffs on classics such as the old fashioned and hot buttered rum. A roster of cold brews, espresso drinks and matchas completes the beverage lineup. On the food side, breakfast is served all day, with options ranging from breakfast tacos to acai bowls. Lunch and bar bites are also available.
1330 W Fulton Market
A former donut shop was converted to a cozy 65-seat wine bar by Joe Fiely, operating partner and wine director for Francesca’s Restaurant Group. Joe’s Imports takes the place of Glazed and Infused, providing the Fulton Market area of the West Loop its first boutique wine bar. In addition to over 200 wines from around the world, the menu offers what it calls “gastropub plates” of Mediterranean-style food.
813 W Fulton Market
Photograph by Sammy Faze Photography
Led by partners Julia Momose and husband-and-wife team Noah and Cara Sandoval (of Oriole), this formal bar showcases the craft of food and beverage with a focus on Japan, Momose’s home country. In addition to a la carte options, Kumiko also offers a five-course omakase-style tasting menu ($130 per person), which pairs five dishes with five beverages. At the core of the ethos of Kumiko is a respect for the process and the moments that make up a truly memorable dining experience, not simply the final result.
630 W. Lake Street, Chicago
LH Rooftop is the tri-level restaurant and rooftop at the apex of LondonHouse Chicago, centrally located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. Spanning floors 21, 22, and 23, LH serves reimagined American fare crafted by executive chef Jacob Verstegen in both indoor and outdoor dining venues. LH’s crown jewel is the Cupola, a Beaux Arts-style domed space with 360-degree views of the Chicago River, iconic architecture and the lake.
85 E. Upper Wacker Drive
A passion project for acclaimed sushi chef B.K. Park, Mako focuses exclusively on an omakase experience, a creative exploration of unique cuts of fish and luxury ingredients. At $175 a head, the set menu of up to 25 bites is prepared and placed before the guest by Park and his team. Sophisticated $85 beverage pairings complement the dishes, which include sushi, warm and hot items and desserts. A gluten-free omakase is also available.
731 Lake Street
Pacific Standard Time
The first project from newly formed Underscore Hospitality partners Erling Wu-Bower and Joshua Tilden, PST is a market-obsessed, hearth-driven restaurant inspired by the ingredients and diverse flavors of coastal California. The restaurant was honored earlier this month for Best Design at the 2019 James Beard Foundation Awards. The design and culinary focus centers around two wood-burning hearth ovens that turn out pizzas and flatbreads, roasted fish and vegetable dishes and ingredient-driven desserts. The cocktail list reflects light and seasonal flavors. PST was created in partnership with One Off Hospitality’s Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco and Terry Alexander.
141 W. Erie Street
The first location of this New York City-based American brasserie opened in April in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The menu offers signatures such as Smitty’s Spicy Fried Chicken and housemade Ricotta Gnocchi, as well as shareables with unique twists, including Hot Potato Chips with blue cheese fondue and skillet-roasted Mac + Cheese. From the bar, there are house-crafted cocktails made with small batch spirits and seasonal produce, as well as 20 wines by the glass and local beers and ciders.
400 N. Clark St.
Photograph courtesy of SX Sky Bar
SX Sky Bar
The newly opened SX Sky Bar is a bi-level food, beverage and nightlife destination in the South Loop. Serving craft cocktails and chef Christopher Suzuki’s shareable small plates with Californian and Asian flavors, SX Sky Bar combines spaces for dining, sipping a cocktail in an intimate lounge area, or dancing the night away, with dramatic Grant Park and Lake Michigan views.
808 S. Michigan Avenue