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Happening In Chicago Right Now: New Restaurant Intel


Happening In Chicago Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Christina Slaton

You already have the Hit List, our regularly updated guide to the best new restaurants in Chicago. But based off our recent restaurant experiences, here’s our newest intel:

7/22/2016 Update

  • If you take away one piece of info from us right now, it should be this: Giant is the best restaurant we've eaten at in a while. Every single dish is impressive, from a fried uni shooter appetizer that should be mandatory, to pastas, steak, and even the veggies. It's great for a date night, or really any situation that involves a couple other people you want to spend time with. It's not big, but it has a strong personality and no stupid schtick - just good food. Eat here soon and often.

  • Schwa was one of the original reviews we wrote back in 2014. It's been a while, and they've since lost their main chef. But we're happy to report it's still awesome. In fact, we'd argue the current menu is the best one we've ever had, and still as interesting as ever. Ever sniffed homemade car fresheners while you drink bourbon? We won't even bother explaining, just go and find out for yourself.

  • There are now more Aloha Poke's, and that's a good thing. The new Lakeview location is at Clark and Belmont, which is a pretty prime location if you live nearby. You can get the same great Poke Bowls every day until 10pm, and it's even BYOB.

  • When we heard Pleasant House Bakery was closing, a part of us closed with it. But then we heard they were just moving to Pilsen, so we'll allow it. The move is complete and the new digs are open, and now it's called Pleasant House Pub. We like the sound of a pub.

  • Fat Rice opened a bakery and they serve Chicago style hot dog baos. We can't decide if that sounds awesome or terrible, but we know we need to check it out. We haven't been yet, but we expect it to be pretty good, or interesting at the very least.

  • There's a new Neapolitan pizza restaurant in Boystown called Lark. And there can never be too much Neapolitan pizza in your life. If you've been, please tell us how it is.

6/28/2016 Update

  • Small Fry is bringing late night burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries to Logan Square for around $10 or less. Definitely check it out for an easy meal on-the-go or late at night after the bar.

  • Piccolo Sogno Due always felt like an emotionless copy of the original restaurant. Apparently, the team there didn’t love it either, because they shut it down and changed the whole concept. It’s now called Nonnina, a hybrid sandwich shop, restaurant, and lounge. We're hopeful the sandwiches are good.

  • We’ll never get over the fact Bunny The Micro Bakery closed, but it’s at least somewhat comforting to know there’s a solid replacement in its space. The Budlong is a small, Southern-style fried chicken spot, and it doesn’t disappoint. Review coming soon.

  • Fact: We love Rainbow Cone as much as we hate Navy Pier. Fact: There’s a new Rainbow Cone on Navy Pier. Conclusion: Navy Pier just got a little less terrible.

  • If ‘90s MTV Spring Break could sponsor one restaurant in Chicago right now, it would be Federales. The new West Loop/Fulton Market taco spot is basically Big Star meets Cancun. The patio is great if you’re willing to put up with the party atmosphere and crowd.

  • Speaking of party patios, Parlor Pizza opened a second location on Division in Wicker Park. Same place, different neighborhood.

  • Speaking of pizza, Forno Rosso serves delicious Napoletana-style pizza, and their newer West Loop location has a quiet little outdoor patio. Eat more pizza.

6/3/2016 Update

  • The lines at Aloha Poke in the French Market continue to be ridiculous at lunch. But we have two pieces of good news: 1. Aloha is about to open a second location at Clark and Belmont, and 2. A new poke spot, FireFin, just opened at 10 S. LaSalle. Poke, so hot right now.

  • You may be familiar with Leña Brava, Rick Bayless' new West Loop restaurant, but that's only half of what's going on there. There's also Cruz Blanca, the more casual beer hall side of the new operation that's perfect for grabbing tacos and a drink.

  • Portillo's opened a second downtown location in the South Loop. The more Portillo's the better.

  • The rooftop beer garden at Gene's Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square is officially open. The old-school Polish-style deli serves great sausages and beer, and now you can consume both on their rooftop picnic benches.

  • We ate at Il Porcellino recently, the new Lettuce Entertain You restaurant in the former Paris Club space. It's peak Lettuce, meaning well-run, a little trendy, and good but not great. Worth a visit if you need something reliable.

  • The people behind Hampton Social in River North have now opened Mahalo in Wicker Park. Just like the former is meant to transport you to the Hamptons, the latter is meant to take you to Hawaii. To say we're skeptical is an understatement, but the outdoor rooftop alone makes it worth checking out.

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