Chicago’s restaurant landscape feels a lot like the Wild West right now: constantly changing and anything goes. We have never seen more pop-ups, delivery-only virtual restaurants, takeout spots, and collaborations between chefs. It makes sense - now more than ever, restaurants need to get creative to survive. Whether it’s an at-home takeout operation, or a restaurant within a restaurant trying something new, you should check these places out while you can.
Gotham Bagels is a to-go bagel shop that’s operating out of an Italian restaurant in Old Town. But don’t let the Inception-style restaurant within a restaurant plot confuse you, this place has excellent bagels. They’re big, soft, slightly chewy, and will shut up any East Coaster who complains about Chicago’s bagel scene. From a perfect BEC sandwich to the lox with cream cheese, everything here is fantastic.
This Korean pop-up in Fulton Market is a collaboration between Boka and one of their chefs. Joomak operates inside Cold Storage and shares their kitchen and patio for outdoor dining. The menu has dishes like fried octopus, cold noodles, bibimbap, and kimchi jeon, and everything is also available for carryout.
The Boka people are very busy right now. GG is their takeout-only restaurant from the head chef at Boka, and as you might have deduced from the name, this place focuses primarily on chicken. The menu has things like a fried chicken sandwich, whole (and half) roasted chicken, chicken salad, and sides like waffle fries, broccoli slaw, and salads.
Han Burger is a virtual restaurant (meaning it’s takeout and delivery-only, not owned by your Sims avatar) in River West. Their specialty is roujiamo: a Chinese sandwich filled with spicy, slow-cooked meat and peppers on a housemade mo bun. There are two fillings to choose from (brisket or pork belly) and both versions are absolutely delicious, with juicy meat that’s perfectly seasoned with a bunch of different spices that build just the right amount of heat.
Professor Pizza started a few years ago as a popular Chicago pop-up that developed a cult following. Now you can order its Grandma-style pies every day (or the occasional rogue thin crust) through Tock, for delivery or carryout from The Full Shilling in Lincoln Park.
When Superkhana reopened in July, it used its brand new takeout window to sell food and drinks from its employee-run pop-ups: Takeout Bagels (a bagel spot) and Be Cordial (to-go cocktails). They are both open Thu-Sun, and you’ll find a rotating selection of bagel sandwiches, schmears, and cocktails like strawberry Manhattans and curry leaf mezcal coolers.
Milly’s is a brand new pizza place that takes its inspiration from Burt’s Place in Morton Grove (FYI, Pequod’s was started by Burt). This means Milly’s has the same kind of pan-style deep dish with a caramelized crust that we all know, love, and make all our visiting friends and families eat. There are only a few pies available from Milly’s each day, so order ahead of time.
Brochu is from a former Roister chef - the one responsible for their famous chamomile chicken dish - and was supposed to open a brick-and-mortar last spring. Well, that got derailed, so now it’s a virtual restaurant that’s operating out of Devil Dawgs in Wicker Park. The menu is focused on fried chicken, sides (like BBQ corn or slaw), and a fried chicken sandwich that’s absolutely fantastic. It has a thick, wonderfully crunchy batter, and comes with a delicate chamomile mayo that will feel familiar to anyone who ate the original at Roister.
This is a new delivery-only sushi spot in the West Loop. Krispy Rice actually comes from LA, and serves cutely-packaged combination boxes filled with things like crab hand rolls, spicy tuna on crispy rice, and maki.