The Most Exciting Dinner Spots In Chicago Right Now   guide image


The Most Exciting Dinner Spots In Chicago Right Now

A night out at one of these places—whether it’s for a catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are currently hot in Chicago right this second, you have arrived at the right figurative Internet place. What does “hot” mean, you ask? Well it’s safe to say that we put on relatively cute outfits to dine at each restaurant below (possibly even eye makeup and our “good deodorant”). A night out at one of these places—whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the current moment.

And, as always, we wouldn’t be recommending any of these restaurants simply for having a memorable scene. We’ve been to each and every spot and loved the food they serve—so you can plan your dinner confidently.


photo credit: DineAmic Hospitality

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318 N Sangamon St, Chicago
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This Italian steakhouse on the edge of Fulton Market channels mid-century-era glamour, complete with bartenders in waistcoats and a checkered marble floor. But Fioretta delivers on style and substance. There are excellent steaks on the menu—like an olive-fed wagyu New York strip that will make you wonder whether that cow flew to Chicago on a private jet with a weekend stopover in Portofino, and tasty little 4oz plates of housemade pasta when potatoes aren't special enough to accompany your $165 steak. Old-school touches get upgraded, too: Instead of men in power suits flagging down a dessert trolley in a stuffy dining room, diners wearing tech vests order the tableside Caesar salad cart in the bar. Strong drinks and live music on the weekend contribute to the buzzy vibe, and make this spot great for a special occasion dinner.

We’re living in an age of reboots, and our excitement for the new iteration of Daisies in Logan Square surpassed the collective enthusiasm for Top Gun: Maverick. After a short closure, this excellent vegetable-centric "Midwestern pasta" spot reopened in a new, larger space. The menu isn’t that different, but there’s a new section for things like lamb shank and salmon collars, and staples like the earthy beet agnolotti are (thankfully) still around. Despite the bigger dining room (and the new chef’s table, and a large bar with ample seating), Daisies is packed by 6pm even on a random Wednesday. Make a reservation in advance, and eat pierogies while listening to an upbeat R&B soundtrack and the dull roar of other diners’ conversations.

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Itoko is from the same team behind Momotaro, and similarly has a minimalist wooden space and good (albeit pricey) food that’s ideal for a nice date or a special occasion. But the formula works—this place is keeping babysitters in business. So if you’re trying to get in, either book a reservation a month in advance or grab a snack because you won’t be eating until 9pm. Though their menu has some cooked dishes, focus on the sushi, from standard nigiri to shareables like DIY tuna handrolls where everyone can play “Don’t Hog The Caviar.” And definitely save room for dessert—both the orange kakigori or mochi donut with light matcha semifreddo are excellent.

This Chinatown hot pot restaurant is part of a popular international chain, and considering it takes an hour and a half to grab a table, that popularity has followed it to Chicago. Shoo Loong Kan’s space is immersive, with decorative touches like ornate wooden lattice and red lanterns, plus large stone tables perfect for groups. They have a long list of premium ingredients, from A5 wagyu and lobster, to harder-to-find options like goose intestines and geoduck. There are four broths to choose from (the best is the house chili) and each table can order up to three. They all start out tasting mild but develop complexity throughout the meal from cooking the meat, seafood, and vegetables. Access to the robust dipping sauce station costs $1.99, but there you’ll also find things like beef tripe in chili oil and some refreshing fruit.

Indienne, an Indian restaurant in River North, definitely falls into the fine dining category. Its large dining room is full of white tablecloths and staff bustling around in crisp jackets, and the menu’s dishes are plated artistically. But the restaurant doesn’t feel too formal. It’s energetic and busy, and the South Asian EDM playlist won’t make you feel like you’re eating in a library. Most of the food has some kind of French twist, so you’ll find things like eclair canapes filled with goat cheese and chutney, malai tikka formed into a terrine and sauced tableside, and a cute little potato pave accompanying the perfectly medium rare lamb chop. Right now Indienne offers an a la carte option and a seven-course tasting menu for $80-$90, which feels very affordable in a neighborhood overrun with valets parking rented Lambos.

We don’t normally find chain restaurants exciting, but damn it, Planta Queen (which has locations in New York, Miami, and Toronto) is. This Asian-fusion vegan spot is the rare plant-based restaurant where the food really good and enough of a scene to earn its downtown address. The space is sleek, has a thump-y music playlist that may briefly make you consider going clubbing afterward, and the long menu is full of dishes that are objectively tasty—whether you’re vegan or not. There’s spicy tuna nigiri made with spicy dehydrated watermelon, jackfruit chicken wings that somehow mimic crispy skin, and firm udon noodles swimming in an unbelievably silky truffle mushroom cream sauce. The large space has plenty of seats for couples, but also enough big booths for a group of friends.

Not only does this New Orleans-inspired spot have the best po’boys we’ve encountered in Chicago, but it’s also a blast. The spacious counter-service restaurant has a full bar, live music, and makes boozy hurricanes that aren’t too sweet. Along with the aforementioned po’boys (like fried shrimp, fried green tomato, and a peacemaker–fried oyster and roast beef) the menu has other classics. There are boudin balls and a rich seafood gumbo that had a great amount of heat, and a little crab claw poking out of it. We'd like to think it was encouraging us to order more food—which we’ll definitely do when we go back.

Obelix is an upscale French restaurant that follows in the footsteps of its older sibling, Le Bouchon, but also breaks family tradition by giving its French menu its own flair. And while you can still order classics like French onion soup or poulet roti, you want to come here for their fusion-y dishes that have an international spin. The combinations of flavors and ingredients are interesting and unexpected, like the steak tartare with a spicy and pungent shio kombu or their impressively complex foie gras taco (a.k.a. foie-co). The dining room has paneled walls and slanted wooden ceilings, and makes you feel like you’re eating in a modern chalet. Come for a fun date night or a small group dinner, and listen to an energetic hip-hop soundtrack that will probably encourage some mid-bite head bobbing.

Signs you’re at a restaurant from the Bavette’s team: 1920s jazz, a dim dining room that feels like the Clue mansion, fantastic service, and great food. You’ll find all of the above at Armitage Alehouse, the team’s newest restaurant in Lincoln Park. Like its predecessors, this place has the ability to suck you in and magically makes you forget the world is spinning outside. The menu is filled with pub-inspired dishes like steak tartare with anchovy aioli, a wonderful wagyu smashburger, and a selection of incredible rotating pot pies–like pheasant and foie gras, or steak and ale. They also have some Indian-inspired dishes (like a pretty boring tikka masala) but don’t let those distract you. Stick with the stuff they do best—which usually involves bone marrow—and plan on dragging your meal out for as long as possible until you need to go back into the real world.

We first met Kasama in 2020, the Year Of Takeout, when this casual Filipino restaurant in Ukrainian Village was only open for carryout and delivery. Now they’re open for indoor dining, and we’re here to talk about their incredible dinner. Thursdays through Sunday the cafe lights a few candles and transforms into a special occasion-worthy restaurant. The 13-course Filipino menu is $185 per person, and it’s a rare fine dining menu that unequivocally feels worth the price. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect to find delicious things like squid ink pancit topped with serrano ham, lamb belly kare kare—no matter what hits the table, each course is balanced, perfectly executed, and flows seamlessly into the next. Despite the price and attention to detail, this place is still pretty casual, making it a great option for a special occasion dinner when you want impressive food, but don’t want to stress about what to wear.

A parade of new Italian restaurants have marched into Chicago recently. But we’re putting Segnatore at the top of this list, because the excellent food at this casual Humboldt Park spot actually stands out in the sea of pasta and chicken parm newcomers. Every dish has some kind of creative twist that makes it interesting. Like meatballs filled with melted scamorza, offering the benefits of a Juicy Lucy without the risk of third-degree burns. Their “lasagna” is deconstructed–a pile of handmade garlic mafaldine, whipped ricotta, and a mushroom bolognese that would win in a steel cage death match against any meat version. The restaurant has the vibe of a European cafe (which makes sense, it’s in the former Cafe Marie Jeanne space), and is busy with couples on dates, small groups catching up, and people laughing at the bar drinking wine and having oysters—all of whom are probably pretending they’re on vacation.

We’re not going to lie to you: Adalina is a sh*tshow. This busy upscale Italian spot walks the line between fancy and overly formal—you’ll find white tablecloths and servers in jackets. But because of the friendly service, and the fact that it’s busy and loud, you won’t feel like you’re eating in a library. Plus, the food is good. The menu has dishes like gnocco fritto with prosciutto, whipped ricotta, and honey (a fantastic starter) housemade pastas like ravioli with corn, truffle, and balsamic drizzle, and entrees like a tender bone-in veal parmigiana. So if you’re looking for a celebratory meal but still want the chance to make a joke with the drunk people at the table next to you, come here.

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