By Dave Lifton
Embark on a culinary journey through the vibrant streets of Chicago as we explore the city’s latest gastronomic treasures. Bon Appétit!
Perhaps no new restaurant in Chicago has been as hotly anticipated as the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, the second U.S. concept from Ireland’s iconic stout that debuted in September. The brewpub features 14 beers on tap, six of which are brewed exclusively at this location, and patrons can enjoy upscale takes of Irish classics like Guinness beef stew and braised lamb, plus pub fare and other innovative dishes.
Bocaditos distinguishes itself from many West Loop Mexican restaurants by avoiding the party vibe in favor of a quiet approach. While there are plenty of tacos and colorful cocktails to be had, the menu adds seafood entrees and innovative fusion dishes like pasta poblano and a Oaxaca burger. Bocaditos has a daily happy hour from 4-7PM.
Found inside the Lady May restaurant in River North is Sushi | Bar, an omakase experience with 17 courses of seasonal, modern interpretations on nigiri and other Japanese favorites prepared in front of guests at the 12-seat counter. An exclusive package adds two more bites and sake and wine pairings. Sushi | Bar also has locations in Austin and Miami Beach.
Located in Lincoln Park, John’s Food and Wine has a menu that belies its corner-diner name. The New American restaurant specializes in smoked meats, seasonal vegetables and pastas, and the wine and cocktail list changes weekly. Neither of the owners, who met while working at New York’s famous Gramercy Tavern, are named John, but both of their fathers were. Reservations are not accepted.
Inspired by the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Mexico City, Wicker Park’s Valedor serves small plates like dumplings filled with al pastor and fried gouda with a chipotle katsu sauce. The drinks menu continues the Japanese-Mexican fusion motif, with inventive takes on classic cocktails plus a large selection of sake and agave-based spirits.
Nisos Prime is a new overhaul of Nisos, a popular Mediterranean restaurant in the West Loop. It features three distinct spaces: The Lounge, a hidden nightspot with craft cocktails and bottle service; Prime Bar, which offers more casual Greek and Italian cuisine; and the titular Nisos Prime, a steakhouse where diners can enjoy caviar and a tableside prosciutto cart.
West Town’s Jook Sing takes its inspiration from the atmosphere of Asian night markets. The name is a Cantonese term of endearment for an American of Asian heritage, and its options are, fittingly, a fusion of Southeast Asian and American ideas, such as the cassava fries with coconut citrus chili sauce, and instant noodles topped with corned beef and Asian condiments.
Since opening in September 2023, Diego has gained a reputation for its Mexican food and bright, lively atmosphere, all inspired by the beaches of the Baja peninsula. The focus at the casual West Town spot is on seafood, with tacos and tostadas lining the menu, and the cocktail selection features fruity concoctions that make one forget it’s the middle of winter.
Named after the Japanese word for “beautiful,” Kirei specializes in shareable plates, rolls and steaks that are available à la carte or as part of a three-course prix fixe dinner. Due to its location in a Gold Coast hotel, Kirei is open for breakfast, with American and Japanese options on the menu.
The decor of Costera Cocina Tulum transports guests to a Mexican jungle without leaving Fulton Market. A modern Mexican menu adds a raw bar and pastas to its assortment of tacos and shareable plates inspired by the cuisine of Yucatán, and a party atmosphere continues well past midnight on the weekends.