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Guide

The Chicago Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Chicago

Whether you’re looking for outdoor dining or takeout and delivery, The Hit List is here to help you find a great new spot to support.

Written by
16 Spots
Launch Map
16 Spots
Launch Map
Updated November 12th, 2020

It’s been a tough year for restaurants and bars, but that hasn’t stopped the spots on this guide from opening, pivoting, popping up, collaborating, and finding more ways to support their communities. In one way or another, they’re all doing something new - and we’re excited for you to discover them.

And that’s what our Hit List is: a guide to our favorite new food and drink experiences in Chicago. We track new openings across the city, and then try as many as we can. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out, either in-person or for takeout.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself - inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at chicago@theinfatuation.com.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor dining or takeout and delivery, or basically anything else a restaurant can conceivably do, The Hit List is here to help. Read on to find your new favorite spots.


The Spots

Kim Kovacik

Kasama

$$$$ 1001 N Winchester Ave

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

This year is just too strange to casually toss around phrases like “best new restaurant,” but Filipino restaurant Kasama in West Town is definitely my favorite. I’ve ordered from here more than any other brand new spot and I like it more each time. From their pastries (like the ham and cheese danish or cardamom kouign amann) to their Filipino plates like the BBQ platter or chicken adobo, I’ve never eaten anything that wasn’t absolutely delicious. This place just puts me in a good mood, and I firmly believe it should go into your self-care rotation.

Flour Power

$$$$ 1642 W Chicago Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

Last year I fell in love with Italianette, which sadly closed when the Fulton Galley food hall shuttered after only seven months. It left a pasta-shaped hole in my heart - one I didn’t realize I’d been trying to fill until I ordered from Flour Power. And while this carryout-only West Town spot isn’t quite the same, the short menu of handmade pastas is all I could ever want when I need a pasta pick-me-up. Just plan ahead: they’re only open Thursdays through Saturdays and release that day’s menu at 8am.

3 Little Pigs

$$$$
$$$$

Open for takeout

I picked up my order from the chef of 3 Little Pigs after DM’ing their IG account (that’s how you order) on a side street in Chinatown behind an auto body shop. You see, he was planning on opening a restaurant right before the pandemic hit, but figured starting this Instagram operation would be a way for him to still get his food out there. And I’m incredibly glad he did - the sticky BBQ pork ribs, fried rice (made with Chinese sausage, BBQ pork, and ham), and pork-filled egg rolls were absolutely fantastic. So if you want some delicious Chinese food in your future, I highly encourage you to go ahead and DM him right now.

Gretel

$$$$ 2833 W Armitage Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

I’m a fan of Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville. I put their fantastic burger on just about every single burger-adjacent list I write, and it was a frequent go-to for an “off-the-clock” meal when I lived in Rogers Park. So when I heard last winter that they were opening a new restaurant in Logan Square, I was very excited to check it out. Then, well, Covid. But a few months ago, they finally opened their takeout window for carryout. And not only is this new burger delicious (it comes on an everything bun, which is a nice change), but the nachos stayed magically crispy even after a 25-minute drive and 15-minute IG picture session.

TenGoku Aburiya

$$$$ 651 W. Washington Boulevard

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

Yume is a very good eight-seat omakase spot in the West Loop that has excellent sushi, and one of my favorite restaurants to visit for a special occasion. This year, the same team opened an all-day izakaya next door, with a longer menu full of kushiyaki, small plates like noodles, and sushi. So if I want a six-piece assortment of delicious sashimi and rolls or udon for under $20, I order from TenGoku Aburiya.

The Han Burger

$$$$ 850 West Superior Street

Open for takeout and delivery

In the deep, dark, long hallway of the shutdown - when restaurants were only able to do carryout and delivery - Han Burger opened, specializing in roujiamo. It came at the perfect time, when I was desperate for a hopeful sign, even during the desolate wasteland that was April and May of 2020. I’ve had two versions of their Chinese sandwich so far - pork belly and brisket - both with spicy slow-cooked meat, peppers, and lots of juice that soaks into the chewy housemade bun and creates a very satisfying, dumpling-like texture.

Pizza Friendly Pizza

$$$$
$$$$ 1039 N Western Ave

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

Pizza is good pandemic food. Clearly I’m not the only person who figured this out, because we’ve had a ton of new pizza spots appear this year. One of those is Pizza Friendly Pizza, a carryout-window in an alley in Ukrainian Village, where you can either get the food to-go or eat it on their small patio. If they didn’t sell out so frequently, I’d be getting the Sicilian pan-style pizza here (which you can get by the slice, or pre-order for a full pie) all the time. The thick crust is incredibly light and airy with a slight sourdough-y flavor, and the tomato sauce is rich and spicy.

Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream

$$$$
$$$$ 960 W 31st St

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

This is another carryout window spot, and yes, they serve pizza, fried chicken, and ice cream. It’s right next to Kimski in Bridgeport (they do the fried chicken, and the ice cream comes from Pretty Cool Ice Cream). But what I really like here is the pizza. It’s another one that’s Sicilian pan-style, with a thick and airy crust that has a golden brown undercarriage - almost like it’s been fried, but not too greasy.

Bokuchan

$$$$
$$$$ 3517 N Spaulding Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

This takeout-only spot specializes in Japanese curry - there’s tonkatsu kare, shaved beef udon curry, and waffle fries (also topped with curry) - and theirs is everything I want when it’s gross outside. Bokuchan also understands the importance of careful packaging - I was delighted to see every component of my Tonkatsu kare order packaged separately, keeping my pork crispy and my rice fluffy.

Open for takeout and delivery

There’ve been a lot of collaborations between restaurants this year, especially when spots that planned on opening in 2020 had their plans fall through. Brochu is one of these spots that, instead of opening a brick and mortar in West Town, is operating out of Devil Dawgs in Wicker Park under the name, “Friend Of The Devil.” And that’s where I found their fried chicken sandwich. Even in a sea of very good fried chicken sandwiches, this one manages to stand out: the juicy thigh has a thick, wonderfully crunchy batter that’s especially good on top of their chamomile mayo.

Gotham Bagels

$$$$
Bagels  in  Old Town
$$$$ 1212 N Dearborn St

Open for takeout and delivery

Chicago has shitty bagels,” says everyone, all the time. I’m not disputing that we aren’t exactly brimming with bagels that rival New York’s. But I can tell you that Gotham Bagels (a spot operating out of an Italian restaurant in Old Town) makes the best ones if you’re into big, soft, slightly chewy, bagels like I am. You have to order online, so anytime I get a DM bewailing our sh*tty bagel scene, I send people to their site and always get a thank you (and often an apology) back.

Kim Kovacik

Butterdough

$$$$ 3452 S Western Ave

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

Two of my good friends recently moved to McKinley Park, and shortly afterwards kept telling me about Butterdough’s outstanding croissants and pastries. Sure enough, I checked it out and these pastries are indeed spectacular. Same with their horchata donut (which ended up on our best donuts guide). And when our contributor Courtney Sprewer recommended their breakfast sandwich as one of the best things she’d eaten recently, it became official: this place is awesome.

Dr. Murphy's Food Hall

$$$$ 1811 W Harrison St.

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

I first went to Dr. Murphy’s food hall doing BBQ research at Lexington Betty’s. While I was there, we had some drinks, ate at the Lil’ Delta, got momos and a cookie, and admired their social distancing protocols. Basically, this place shows that food halls don’t need to disappear until there’s a vaccine - and it’s a great option for all the people working in the Medical District.

Wade McElroy

Big Kids

$$$$ 2545 North Kedzie Boulevard

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

This Logan Square sandwich shop is a collaboration between the former Blackbird Chef and a chef from the sandwich spot Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans. I’m a fan of both of those places, which is why I practically ran to Big Kids as soon as they opened. Unsurprisingly, the sandwiches and small bites (like the ’sketti pocket) are good. But the specific reason for its appearance here is the collard melt - with braised collard greens, cherry-pepper Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese on rye bread. It’s rich, spicy, and delicious.

Food On The Run

$$$$ 8040 S Ashland Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

This soul food spot in Auburn Gresham opened in February, and I decided to check it out immediately after I saw a delicious-looking IG story about it on @blackpeopleeats. Food On The Run started out as a catering company, so their ability to expertly package to-go versions of chicken and red velvet waffles, candied yams, mac and cheese, salmon, and collard greens for carryout isn’t a surprise. And yes, I ate that exact meal while sitting in my car and it was fantastic.

The Tamale Guy

$$$$ 2018 W. Chicago Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

Anyone who spent time in their 20s at a bar in Chicago has probably gotten a tamale from The Tamale Guy (even if they don’t remember it), myself included. And when Claudio Velez, the actual Tamale Guy, finally opened up his own physical restaurant, a whole lot of people (myself included) ordered his tamales - so many of us that he kept selling out. And it turns out that his perfectly fluffy tamales are even better than I remember (or don’t remember).

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