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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
26 Spots
Launch Map
26 Spots
Launch Map
Updated April 5th, 2021

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

Three House

$$$$ 1450 W. Chicago

Open for takeout and indoor dining

I received three DMs telling me to try the smashburger at Three House, an all-day restaurant in West Town. And once I tried it, I wanted to write a thank you note to the tipsters - the burger is delicious, with two juicy patties topped with the perfect amount of cheddar and garlic aioli on a fluffy sesame bun. But the burger isn’t the only reason I’m putting Three House on the Hit List. The rest of the dishes I tried were also great - like the curried chicken empanada that had a light and crispy shell. Or the fried brussels sprouts topped with shallots, feta cheese, and tender slices of skirt steak. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this is exactly the kind of food I want to eat when I’m hungover, drunk, or about to get drunk.

Boonie Foods

$$$$ 125 S. Clark Street

Open for takeout

I’m not sure what’s up with Revival Food Hall, but whatever it is, I like it. This downtown food hall is having some sort of renaissance - three of the restaurants on our Hit List are here, including Boonie Foods. This Filipino spot started out as a pop-up in Logan Square last summer, and recently found a permanent home at Revival. The menu is full of hits, from entrees like bagnet and liempo (which comes with delicious garlic rice and a fried egg) to their “Boonie Bomb” tacos, which are their tastiest dishes wrapped in a flour tortilla. I enjoyed everything I ate from Boonie Foods, but I want to take a little extra time to call out the sisig. The menu description is “the best thing you’ll ever eat” and I’m not arguing with that. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve eaten this year, and I eat a lot.

Bianca's Burgers

$$$$ 125 S Clark St

Open for takeout

Bianca’s is another excellent spot in Revival Food Hall. I came across it while researching our Best New Burgers guide, and it turns out they’re making one of the best burgers in Chicago, new or otherwise. Specifically, the Bianca burger, which comes with white American cheese, sweet grilled onions, a juicy griddled patty, pickles, Bianca’s burger sauce (ingredients seem to be “deliciousness”), and a toasted brioche bun. It’s everything we want in a burger - cheesy, beefy, and messy. And almost as important: their crispy shoestring fries.

Andros Taverna

$$$$ 2542 N Milwaukee Ave

_Open for takeout and indoor dining _

Even though this Greek spot in Logan Square has been open for dine-in since they opened in March, I opted for takeout. And I’m happy to report that it was wonderful. The pita was fluffy, the mezze spreads (like charred eggplant) were creamy, and entrees like the prawn saganaki had a rich tomato sauce and perfectly cooked prawns. But our favorite thing was the kataifi cheese pie - shredded filo layered with feta and cow’s milk cheese, baked in butter until brown and crispy, then topped with honey and pistachios. I enjoyed everything, and can only imagine how much better it would taste if it hadn’t been forced to travel 15 minutes in my car. In other words, Andros Taverna’s dining room will be one of the first spots I hit during the upcoming Hot Vax Summer.

Brite

$$$$ 2021 W Fulton St

Open for takeout

I ordered from here while hunting down the best new donuts in Chicago. And Brite earned its spot on this list not just for their fun donuts (with flavors like tangerine pop rock, banana chai cold brew, and grapefruit brulee) but also for their pastries. They make one of the best pecan sticky buns I’ve ever had. But before you run over there immediately after reading this, be aware that you need to order 24 hours in advance. But don’t be like me and let the thought of planning that far into the future intimidate you - I’m disappointed I didn’t order from here sooner.

Kim Kovacik

Cocoa Chili

$$$$
$$$$ 3101 W Lake St

Open for takeout

I was already excited to try this Afro-Caribbean spot, but became even more so after hearing about its origin story. The owner, Niquenya Collins, is a business development coach who decided to take her own advice and turn her love of cooking into her own restaurant. Clearly, it was a great decision, because everything I ordered was delicious. The smoky jerk chicken was some of the best I’ve had, the Sengalese poulet yassa was tender and full of lemongrass and the chili con carne makes me mad at all the versions I’ve ever tried to make. I also discovered that fried plantains dusted in cinnamon sugar are my new favorite palate cleanser.

Minahasa

$$$$
Indonesian  in  Loop
$$$$ 125 S. Clark Street

Open for takeout and indoor dining

Minahasa started out as a pop-up focusing on Indonesian food. It’s owned by the chef and his mother (Mama Betty), and after months of operating out of their house, they opened a stall at Revival Food Hall in the Loop. I recently stopped by to pick up an order of their signature beef rendang (and to see if I could meet Mama Betty). Sadly, Mama Betty wasn’t there, but I’m happy to report that the beef rendang was tender and full of coconut curry flavor. I also picked up some pork sate (and the meat was wonderfully caramelized) and some fluffy balapis for dessert. And as a bonus, they’re also open for lunch.

Good Ambler

$$$$
$$$$ 216 N. Peoria St

Open for takeout and indoor dining

My relationship with this West Loop bakery started with an impulse macaron purchase after popping in just for a coffee. Well, I spent the following week thinking about the perfect texture of that salted caramel macaron. So I went back for a few more (pistachio and chocolate) and then impulsively bought some tiramisu. Things escalated from there. Next, it was bananas foster petit gateau. Then hazelnut cake layered with orange marmalade, followed by handmade chocolates, some alfajores, and more of those f*cking macaroons. Now I find myself here week after week buying way more desserts than one person needs. I’ve yet to try something that isn’t delicious. And yes, the coffee is great, too.

Dear Margaret

$$$$
French  in  Lakeview
$$$$ 2965 N Lincoln Ave

Open for takeout

It wasn’t until I was halfway through my takeout dinner from Dear Margaret that I realized it’s been a really long time since I’ve eaten duck liver mousse. Even longer since I’ve had some this silky, and perfectly paired with sweet orange marmalade. But that’s not the only thing that impressed me about this French-Canadian restaurant in Lincoln Park. So did the tender braised beef shank (complete with a bone that had perfectly rendered marrow), braised cauliflower with arugula and pearl onions, and Nanaimo bars, which have a base of graham cracker, coconut, and walnut, and are topped with chocolate, icing, and creme fraiche. Right now, Dear Margaret is only open for takeout and delivery. But thanks to careful carryout packaging (and the great food) it’s one of the most special occasion-worthy coffee table spreads I’ve had.

Kirsten Kaiser

Taqueria Chingón

$$$$
TacosMexican  in  Bucktown
$$$$ 2234 N Western Ave

Open for takeout

Ever since placing my first order at Taqueria Chingon, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about their incredible tacos. I’ll even scroll through their online menu like it’s taco Zillow, fantasizing about my theoretical order. I’ve tried almost all the tacos at this Bucktown spot, and each one has impressed me. They’re all made with chewy handmade tortillas, and have a variety of flavorful fillings - like the morcilla (made with blood, bread, onion, and apples before getting topped with brown butter salsa macha), crispy pig head carnitas, and tender al pastor. The cheese quesadilla is also wonderful, it’s filled with cotija and melty oaxaca cheese that’s caramelized on the edges. Whatever your fantasy order is, just place it early - they run out of food quickly.

Kim Kovacik

Kapitan

$$$$
$$$$ 2142 N Clybourn Ave

Open for takeout and delivery

I ordered from this great new Peranakan restaurant in Lincoln Park two weeks after they opened, and I appreciated not just the great food, but also how much they had their sh*t together already. After all, Kapitan is meant to be a sit-down restaurant, but until indoor dining returns, they’re focusing on takeout and delivery. And they’re doing it very well - for example, the pie tee is packaged with the vegetable filling separately, keeping the pastry nice and crispy. And everything else I’ve had here has been great. Kapitan serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day, with dishes like chee cheong fun, a whole roasted Hainanese chicken, and kuih that changes every week. The menu is pretty long, so I’m considering it a personal goal to get through the whole thing as soon as possible. Don’t worry, I’ll report back.

FIYA

$$$$ 5419 North Clark Street

Open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining

Fiya opened in Andersonville last spring (about 20 years ago in Pandemic-time), and I finally got around to checking out this new Isreali restaurant earlier this month. I wish I had gotten here sooner because this place is wonderful. From the pillowy pita to the tahini-rich hummus that’s slick with olive oil to a kachiphuri filled with shakshuka - it’s all delicious. Their winter menu is slightly limited (mainly salatim, pita sandwiches, and some entrees), but they’ll be adding more when restrictions ease. For now, Fiya is open for outdoor dining on their back patio (they have private dining bubbles), as well as for carryout and delivery. However you decide to check this place out, don’t do what I did - get here as soon as possible.

Kim Kovacik

Mr. Kabab

$$$$ 1962 W Peterson Ave.

Open for takeout and delivery

A random DM telling me to, “Check out this place, best Middle Eastern food in the city,” is how I ended up at Mr. Kabab, ordering half the menu for carryout. And it turns out this newish (it opened in September 2020) spot in West Rogers Park does indeed have incredible food. I tried the combination plate (which included chicken shawarma, kefta, rice, salad, and pita), a gyro, the beef shawarma sandwich, and a vegetarian combo with baba ganoush, hummus, falafel, and dolmas. It was all so delicious that I became legitimately upset when I started to get full.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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