CHIReview

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Warlord image
8.8

Best New Restaurants

2023

Warlord

American

Avondale

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDining SoloEating At The BarWalk-InsDate NightLate Night Eats
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Every meal at Warlord is a gamble. But the thrill of uncertainty doesn’t come from “Will I win the jackpot?” it comes from “What type of jackpot will I win today?” 

This casual New American restaurant is hiding in plain sight, on a nondescript corner of Avondale. There’s no sign. There’s barely any info on its website. They’re open until 2am. And you’ll never have the same menu twice—Warlord’s menu changes every day.

Warlord image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

One night, they might have plump hudson canyon scallops with miso butter. The next day, those might’ve been swapped out for hokkaido scallops with housemade XO sauce and tomatoes. Or maybe scallops used some of their PTO, and a swordfish loin was called in to sub for them. But none of this is random—there’s order to the chaos. 

There will be 10-15 reasonably priced dishes (between $8-$25, with a steak around $60), usually with some combination of vegetables, seafood, meat, and maybe a pasta. Warlord has just one permanent dish: a fantastic dry-aged burger with—pause for dramatic effect—no cheese. It’s only topped with charred onions and caramelized onion mayo. And like the no-Lactaid-needed burger, the whole menu benefits from restraint. Nothing on it has a ton of ingredients, and no dish feels like it’s trying too hard.

Even if you’re not a direct descendant of Sir Warlord himself, you'll feel like an always-welcome cousin. The space echoes with a pleasant mixture of chatter and an eclectic soundtrack of pop punk, hip hop, and Johnny Cash. That energy is complemented by servers, bartenders, and cooks that’ll playfully present a Miller High Life like it’s a vintage cabernet, and who encourage people to stay as long as they like—an offer that’s impossible to refuse.

The downsides are that they don’t take reservations, they’re only open Friday-Monday, and there’s only one dessert each night. But Warlord is a restaurant that’s worth waiting all week (and hours in line) for. And you’ll do it all over again—especially when it’s midnight and a ribeye with bordelaise and a side of ramp pasta sounds pretty good.

Food Rundown

The menu at Warlord changes daily, but here is an example of what you can expect:

Warlord image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Burger

Warlord image

photo credit: John Ringor

Embered Squash With Caramelized Onion And Calabrian Chili

Warlord image

photo credit: John Ringor

Swordfish Loin With Miso Butter And Bolted Spinach

Warlord image

photo credit: John Ringor

Fettuccine With Chestnut Mushrooms, Mimolette Cheese, And Dill

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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