If you tried to keep track of every brand new restaurant in Chicago, you might go a little bit crazy. So just read this list instead. These are the new restaurant openings that seem like they have the most potential - although keep in mind, for the ones we haven’t tried, we make no promises. Go forth and be a pioneer.
We’ll be regularly updating this post. Once we’ve checked out a spot, we’ll add a note if it makes it onto our Hit List.
Indian Clay Pot is a casual new restaurant in North Center serving both Northern and Southern Indian food.
This Old Town spot closed in April for renovations, but is now open again with a different food menu and some new decor.
A 24-hour spot serving tacos, burritos, nachos, and more in River North.
Xia Mei Xiang is a casual Chinese restaurant that just opened in Bridgeport.
A new Andersonville restaurant from a former chef at the now-closed Snaggletooth. The food at Passerotto is Korean with some American influences.
Optima is a two-level bar and restaurant in Old Town serving upscale pub food. They also have live music (DJs and bands) on the weekend.
Wrigleyville has a new location of Aurelio’s Pizza, a Southside pizza place serving pies with a cracker-thin tavern crust.
A new Mexican restaurant in Portage Park serving tacos, plus dishes like gorditas and chicken in a mole sauce.
Pacific Standard Time is a new restaurant in River North from Nico Osteria’s original chef. The food here focuses primarily on seasonal ingredients, which means you can get a flatbread ramp pizza, coal roasted vegetables, and mains like pork shoulder in a ramen broth.
There’s a new location of Furious Spoon in Andersonville, with the same ramen menu as the other locations (including the one in Wicker Park).
This is a new Italian restaurant in River North serving housemade pastas, panini, and gelato.
A new location of Bonci is now open in Wicker Park. The first is in the West Loop (and if you really want to keep track, the original is in Rome). This Bonci is larger, and has a lot more seats. We really like their Roman-style pizza, so this is a good thing.
This is a self-serve tap room up in Evanston from the owners of the recently-closed Tommy Nevin’s Pub. It has craft beers along with a small menu of pub food.
Lucy’s used to just be a food truck, but now also has a brick and mortar location in Humboldt Park. It specializes in fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, and soft serve.
The Chelsea Room is a new bar from the owners of The Early Society in the Loop - in fact, you need to go through The Early Society to get to this place. Expect big booths and pop-art decor.
A new spot in Portage Park with a menu drawing on Italian and Jewish traditions. The morning menu has bagels and breakfast sandwiches, and at lunch you’ll find dishes like meatballs and matzo ball soup. They cure all their meat and fish in-house, and their pastas are housemade as well. This looks like a good neighborhood option for breakfast and lunch.
Saba is a new Italian restaurant in Logan Square from the same people who own Cafe con Leche and The Harding Tavern. The menu has housemade pastas, pizzas, and dishes like eggplant parmesan. If you need a new neighborhood spot for a casual date or weeknight dinner with a glass of wine, this could be it.
Square Biscuits is a casual breakfast spot in North Center specializing in biscuits (which are, unsurprisingly, square-shaped). Dishes include country fried steak and gravy, and biscuits stuffed with cinnamon apples.
This restaurant and bar is in Wrigleyville’s newly opened Hotel Zachary. The food is what you’d expect to find at a gastropub - things like fish and chips, bone marrow, and a chicken liver parfait. But there’s also a Crackerjack donut, which feels more like something you’d expect to find at a baseball game.
Hotel Zachary has another restaurant opening this week: the second location of Wicker Park’s Smoke Daddy. This place has BBQ, a stage for live music, and a patio for when it gets nice out (it will eventually - or so we hear).
Fisk & Co. is a new seafood restaurant in the Loop, with a focus on different preparations of mussels. The Loop doesn’t have a ton of good options for dinner, but this place looks promising.
We checked out Fisk & Co. and added it to our Hit List
Knead Pizza is a new Neapolitan pizza spot in Wicker Park. In addition to pies, it serves a small selection of housemade pastas.
Big Star has opened a second location in Wrigleyville. Like the original in Wicker Park, this spot has a large patio and a takeout window. But the Wrigleyville location is larger overall (with two floors) and has TVs playing the Cubs. So it sounds like it might have more of a sports-bar feel.
We checked out Big Star and added it to our Hit List
This new spot in Lincoln Park serves ramen and other dishes like BBQ unagi and steamed buns.
The original Royal Palms is in Brooklyn, but now we have our very own in Chicago. Come here if you want to play shuffleboard while drinking pina coladas and other cocktails. There will be rotating food trucks, too.
Stefani Prime is a new spot in Lincolnwood from the same people who own Tavern On Rush in the Gold Coast. It’s supposed be a classic Chicago-style steakhouse in the suburbs. It might be worth checking out if you’re tired of the usual suspects when you’re up north.
Drawl is a Southern bar and restaurant in Lincoln Park that also has a “whiskey room” (i.e. a smaller space for drinks and light bites). Food-wise, you can expect dishes like smoked brisket and fried chicken, along with bar snacks like beef jerky.
This is the new Wrigleyville location of West Town Bakery. In addition to treats like cookies and cake balls, this place also serves cocktails and boozy milkshakes. Because it’s in Wrigleyville.
Wrigleyville is getting everything. Now there’s a Jeni’s Splendid in the neighborhood, too. Everyone who likes ice cream should be happy - as far as we’re concerned, the more Jeni’s in Chicago, the better.
This Andersonville restaurant has reopened after being closed for renovations. Now there’s an open kitchen and some seating available at a chef’s counter, too.
Doug Haus Biergarten is a gourmet hot dog chain from LA. They heard that Chicago really likes hot dogs (we assume), so they opened a location in Lincoln Park. Their hot dogs, sausages, and burgers all come on King’s Hawaiian rolls. This looks like it could be a good place to check out if you still miss Hot Doug’s.
Interurban used to be a takeout window in an alley in Lincoln Park. It sold mostly pastries, and a few to-go soups and sandwiches. It’s moved to Bucktown, and now has a sit-down restaurant with a full menu (pastries included).
Joy District is a multi-level nightclub in River North, and Parlay is their sceney new restaurant on the ground floor. It’s serving upscale bar food, with things like a pizza topped with lobster and caviar, and foie gras fries.
The flagship location of this classic burger spot on Michigan has re-opened (it had been closed since the beginning of the year). We’re glad.
This new bar in Roscoe Village serves taquitos (on housemade tortillas) and tropical cocktails.
Radio Anago is a new Japanese restaurant in River North from the team that owns Bavette’s and Au Cheval. Their menu has things like pork buns and sushi, and drinks like sake bombs and shots with matcha. They aren’t taking reservations (yet), so you should probably plan on waiting a long time for a table. If you make it in, let us know how it goes.
We checked out Radio Anago and added it to our Hit List
Octavio is an all-day Mexican restaurant that just opened in Andersonville. They serve brunch on weekdays, and the dinner menu has options like enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos made with fresh tortillas. They also have a long list of tequila and mezcal. This looks like it could be a fun neighborhood spot.
7 Plates Cafe in Lincoln Park has an unusual concept - they serve seven entrees, seven salads, seven appetizers, and seven desserts inspired by the seven European and North American countries the chef/owners have cooked in. They’re open all day, and do carry-out and delivery as well.
Punch Bowl Social just opened a West Loop location (they’re in multiple states and have one in Schaumburg, too). It’s a huge space with a lot of activities for adults, plus a restaurant. For food and drinks you’ll find boozy milkshakes, punches, burgers, chicken wings, and tacos. As far as “social” things are concerned, there’s stuff like a giant Scrabble board, arcade games, karaoke, and a bowling alley.
Szechwan JMC, in Chinatown, is open for lunch and dinner, with a menu including dan dan noodles, scallion pancakes, and dry and clay pot dishes.
Cedar House is a new BYOB restaurant in Lincoln Park, serving Mediterranean food like hummus, shawarma, and kabobs. It looks good for a casual lunch or dinner.
This is an new casual counter-service spot in Andersonville serving (unsurprisingly, given the name) Greek food. Their menu has grilled meats, salads, and appetizers like saganaki. The owner used to be a chef at Mythos in Ravenswood.
A new lunch option in the French Market with Peruvian ceviches that are made fresh daily, and mixed with chili oil for more spice.
Another new addition to the French Market, Firenze focuses on build-your-own sandwiches (on their housemade schiacciata, or Tuscan flatbread) and customizable salads.
Bar Biscay in West Town calls itself a Spanish brasserie, but serves both French and Spanish food. You can get small plates like brandade and anchovies, and large plates like steak frites and oxtail. It’s from the same people who own MFK, and we’re hoping it’s as good.
We checked out Bar Biscay and added it to our Hit List
Tied House is right next to Schubas in Lakeview, and owned by the same people. It’s an elevated dining option to try either before or after seeing a show next door. And actually, the new American menu looks like it’s worth checking out even if you’re not hitting up Schubas at all.
We checked out Tied House and added it to our Hit List
The Orbit Room in Avondale has re-opened as Ludlow Liquors. There’s food from an operation called Old Habits, plus a full bar. The menu looks like it has good things to eat while you’re drinking - like deep fried rib tips, egg rolls, and a (not fried) pot roast sandwich.
Six06 Cafe Bar is an all-day Greek and Mediterranean fusion restaurant with everything from waffles and omelettes (in the morning) to pork kebabs and spanakopita at lunch and dinner. It’s meant to be the kind of place you can hang out in for a while, so they have wifi available, plus a TV playing soccer.
Eris is a brew pub in a remodeled Masonic temple in Old Irving Park. There’s a wide variety of ciders (their specialty), plus a few beers they also brew in-house. You’ll find plenty of vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free dishes, in addition to typical bar food like a Polish sausage wrapped in bacon.
Fort Willow is a bar and small plates place in Noble Square with globally inspired food, beer, and cocktails. They serve dishes like vegetable curry and Korean short ribs, plus drinks like Moscow mules and a bubble tea made with vodka. The space is supposed to feel like a treehouse kids would play in. (Kids who like small plates.)
Evanston is so close you don’t even have to use the Interstate to get there, so you should probably know about Kinship. The menu has global dishes including a Moroccan lamb burger, lobster cavatelli, and a Thai curry bowl. They’re not small plates - this is an appetizer/salad/entree operation.
Chicago Lunchbox started as a food truck, and now it has a brick and mortar location in the Loop. They serve spring rolls, banh mi sandwiches, and Asian-inspired tacos.
Taylor Gourmet is a sandwich chain that started on the East Coast, and they’ve just opened a location in the Loop. They serve creative hoagies, including vegetarian options with ingredients like crispy brussels sprouts and toasted cashews. So if you’re looking for a new lunch option in the Loop, this could be it.
A new spot in Streeterville serving Southside-style pizzas. It’s a big space with multiple levels, and looks like it will be good for watching sports.
Burgers are the focus at Maillard Tavern in River West. There are a number of different versions, including one with the vegan Impossible Burger patty. The space is small, with wooden booths, tables, and a large bar.
We checked out Maillard Tavern and put it on our Hit List
S.K.Y. is an Asian-fusion-ish spot in an industrial-looking space in Pilsen. They’re still waiting on their liquor license, so for now it’s BYOB.
We checked out S.K.Y. and put it on our Hit list
A deli/grocery in the West Loop that does complex gourmet sandwiches (like the Southside Johnny, with porchetta, cheese, broccolini, pickled fennel, chimichurri, and a rosemary dipping sauce). Since the owners of this place also run an ’nduja company, you can expect a lot of that here, too - including an ’nduja gelato (a.k.a. vanilla gelato with pieces of ’nduja).
We checked out Tempesta Market and put it on our Hit List
The Pink Squirrel is a Midwest-themed cocktail lounge in Logan Square. They have retro drinks like tequila sunrises, grasshoppers, and sloe gin fizzes. They also have duck pin bowling lanes for rent.
Booth One, in the Ambassador hotel, is shooting for an old-school atmosphere with its giant booths, servers in tuxedo jackets, and classic dishes like beef Wellington. It looks like a Gold Coast version of RPM Steak, which isn’t too surprising, since it’s from the same team.
We checked out Booth One and put it on our Hit List
Lonesome Rose is an all-day spot in Logan Square with Mexican small plates (like tacos and ceviche), Tex-Mex inspired food, and creative cocktails.
The “Mable” in question here is the chef’s mom, and the food at this place in Bucktown is comfort food. For instance, there’s a whole section of the menu devoted to mac and cheese dishes. The interior, with its A-frame slatted wood roof, exposed brick, and twinkly lights, looks very homey.
We checked out Mable’s Table and put it on our Hit list
This is a casual place for drinks and a light bite in the West Loop. There are snacks like goat tostadas, crispy sweet potatoes in a curry broth, and sweetbreads, and (in addition to full-sized drinks) they have a “small pour” menu option for cocktails - basically alcohol’s version of small plates.
The Moonlighter is the new spot from the people who own Scofflaw, and it’s also in Logan Square. While Scofflaw has limited options for food, The Moonlighter serves an extensive menu of things like waffle fries, nachos, and burgers. They also have a gigantic outdoor area, which looks ideal for when we’re no longer afraid of being outside in the cold for more than 10 minutes.