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.
Luella’s Gospel Bird a new restaurant in Bucktown from the same owners as Luella’s Southern Kitchen. This place focuses on fried chicken, along with things like greens, candied yams, and mac and cheese. Also, it’s BYOB.
There’s a new Left Coast in the Loop, and it has the same kind-of-healthy menu (with grain bowls, wraps, and salads) as the locations in Lincoln Park and River North.
The original Shake Shack is a hidden gem behind an unmarked door in Andersonville, and you need three former diners' social security numbers to get in. Just kidding. This is just another regular old Shake Shack in Wrigleyville, and it's a good option to have in the neighborhood.
This is a new cafe and breakfast spot on the South Side. The menu has comfort food like biscuits and gravy, peach French toast, and shrimp and grits.
The original Avli is up in Winnetka, but this is a more casual location in Lincoln Park. The long menu has Greek dishes like saganaki, moussaka, rotisserie meats, and plenty of spreads and salads.
La Mehikana is a new Mexican restaurant in Pilsen. The menu focuses primarily on tacos, and also includes appetizers like octopus and ceviches, along with a few entrees.
This is an all-day French restaurant that just opened in the Loop, from the same owners as Cochon Volant. The menu has dishes like escargots, steak frites, and a $150 seafood tower.
This is a new grab-and-go spot in Wicker Park from the same people who own Sticky Rice. It specializes in Thai steamed buns, with flavors like basil chicken, panang beef, and and BBQ pork.
Bibliophile is a new gastropub/bookstore combination in Hyde Park. It focuses on boozy desserts (for example, an Old Fashioned-flavored cheesecake and a red wine chocolate cake), but has savory dishes, too.
Vu is a new rooftop bar that just opened near McCormick Place. It’s 22 stories up, and has both fire pits and retractable windows. Food-wise, there’s a long menu of small plates like mushroom tostadas, chorizo and shrimp toast, and a steak tartare.
This new Italian restaurant in Lincoln Park serves thin-crust pizza, along with entrees like chicken piccata and spaghetti and meatballs.
Bayan Ko is a new Ravenswood restaurant serving both Cuban and Filipino food. So you’ll find dishes like ropa vieja, luglug noodles, and halo halo.
The original Warm Belly Bakery is in the West Loop, and a second one just opened in Lincoln Park. This place has a rotating menu featuring big round cookies with flavors like maple bourbon and salted butterscotch toffee.
This is the new Wicker Park location of a Korean fried chicken chain (it’s the second one in Chicago - the first is in Chinatown). Along with fried chicken, it has things like bibimbap and bao.
Hiro is a new sushi spot in Hyde Park that also has an extensive menu of rolled ice cream and dessert toasts (toasted white bread with butter and toppings).
This is a brand new downtown steakhouse from the former chef of Forbidden Root. Along with steaks, there are a lot of other entrees, vegetables, and sandwiches on the menu.
The Fat Shallot started out as a food truck, but now there’s also a full-blown restaurant in Lincoln Park. It serves sandwiches like pulled pork and a caramelized onion grilled cheese, and sides like french fries and potato salad.
There’s a new location of Limitless Coffee in the Loop, with a similar menu to the original in the West Loop. This spot also looks like a great place to get some work done.
Rogers Park has a new casual restaurant selling pizza by the slice. Anto also has some pastas and appetizers like calamari.
The same team that started the Saved By The Max pop-up has opened a non-pop-up cocktail bar in Wicker Park. Along with drinks, they serve snacks like mushroom wontons and bao.
Le Sud is a casual new French restaurant in Roscoe Village. You can expect small plates like escargot, and mains like roasted rabbit.
This is a new restaurant in Lincoln Square serving British-inspired food like pasties, fish and chips, and bangers and mash.
Walton Street is a new two-level spot in the Gold Coast. There’s a first floor bar, then an upstairs restaurant serving dishes like fried green tomatoes, salmon, and a rabbit pot pie.
10 Q Kitchen is a new casual spot in Evanston from the same people who own BopNGrill. They serve panko-crusted fried chicken and sides like fries, plus matcha soft serve.
Tao is a sceney club and restaurant that has locations in New York, Vegas, and LA - and now there’s a new one in River North. The first floor has a restaurant serving Asian-inspired food, and on the second floor there’s a nightclub.
Split Rail used to serve upscale versions of retro Midwestern dishes, but after briefly closing, it’s open again with a different menu. Now the focus is on fried chicken, with sides like hush puppies and biscuits.
This is a new all-day restaurant in Pilsen serving food with Mexican influences, like a hot dog with charro beans, habanero mustard, and pickled peppers on a bolillo roll.
The owners of Union Squared pizza have opened a spot in the Wheelhouse Hotel in Wrigleyville, serving Detroit-style pies along with small plates like calamari and bruschetta.
Four Letter Word is a new Logan Square coffee shop that sells pastries from Cellar Door Provisions.
This is a newly reopened bar in River North that (as the name suggests) is designed to feel like a 1970s motel lobby. It serves classic cocktails, along with food like sandwiches, sliders, and tacos.
This is a tapas bar in River North with pintxos, dishes like brandade and pan con tomate, and large plates like a slow-roasted pork shank.
Eleven Eleven is a new wine bar in the West Loop that also serves cheese and charcuterie, plus a few larger plates like an Italian beef tartare with giardiniera, and chicken and waffles with piri piri sauce.
Mason is an upscale spot in the Chicago Found Hotel. The menu has classic dishes like oysters rockefeller, a wedge salad, and beef wellington.
This is a new omakase-only sushi restaurant in Logan Square. You’ll get about 20 courses for $220.
Twain is a new restaurant in Logan Park with a menu inspired by Midwestern food from the mid-20th century. They’re putting their own spin on some classics, so you’ll find bone marrow sloppy joes, pork cheek pigs in a blanket, and a meatloaf surf and turf with unagi.
Casati’s is a new Italian restaurant in Lincoln Park specializing in pinsa-style pizzas, which have a thin and crispy crust. It also has a very long menu of non-pizza things like antipasti, pastas, salads, and mains.
Naoki Fried Chicken is a delivery/carry-out restaurant from the owners of Naoki, the very good sushi restaurant in Lincoln Park. You can order a half or whole fried chicken, sides like yuzu coleslaw, and even some sushi rolls.
Tricycle is a new bar and restaurant that just opened in Bucktown. There’s a long food menu with dishes like smoked chicken wings, flatbreads, and a chicken pot pie. The space has a retro feel, with puffy booths and pop art decor.
Neon Wilderness is a new bar in Wicker Park near the Division Blue Line stop. It serves some interesting cocktails (including one made with Malort), wine, and affordable cans of beer.
Funkenhausen is a German-inspired bar and restaurant that just opened in West Town. The menu has dishes like “surfenturfen” (scallop and pork belly with sauerkraut puree), plus options like schnitzel and spaetzle.
This is a new spot in Logan Square from a former pastry chef at The Publican, and all the (housemade) ice cream comes in bar form - i.e. on sticks. They have a variety of flavors, from vanilla and chocolate to caramel potato chip.
Blind Dragon is the new bar in the Found Chicago hotel in River North. Karaoke is one of the main draws here (they have private rooms you can reserve).
Good Measure is another spot that just opened in River North. It’s a punk and rockabilly-themed bar serving pub food like Nashville hot fried duck livers and a truffled Polish with foie gras onions.
We checked out Good Measure and added it to our Hit List
Bixi Beer is a new Asian brew pub in Logan Square from the owner of Owen & Engine. You’ll find chicken momo and a ssam plate, along with fusion options like a bao cheeseburger and an Italian beef bao.
Baobab BBQ is a new restaurant on the border of Ravenswood and Lincoln Square where the menu includes ribs, pulled pork, smoked salmon, and boerewors, a South African sausage.
San Soo Korean BBQ is a new Korean BBQ (as the name suggests) restaurant in the West Loop. It’s from the same owners of San Soo Gab San, a well-known spot in in Albany Park that’s been around for almost 25 years. But where the original has charcoal grills at each table, the new one uses electric.
A Mexican restaurant that just opened in West Town. The space is casual, with colorful paintings on the walls, and you’ll find tacos, burritos, and larger plates in addition to things like nachos and queso.
This is another new restaurant serving Korean BBQ in the West Loop. But Soju BBQ is casual and BYOB - and here the BBQ is cooked for you (which is convenient if you’re feeling lazy).
Merchant is a new bar and restaurant in Logan Square, serving a mix of dishes from tacos, to arancini made from kimchi fried rice, to an Italian sausage sandwich, to a grilled steak or salmon. The chef has worked at Japonais, Girl & the Goat, and RPM Italian, which may help explain the assorted menu.
Free Rein is a new restaurant attached to the St. Jane Hotel in the Loop, serving dishes like beef tartare, pork belly, and halibut.
A new sushi restaurant in the West Loop offering a $125, 17-course tasting menu involving appetizers, sushi, and dessert.
This is an all-day cafe from the same owners as Beatnik, and it’s attached to Beatnik on the River. It has similar decor (with a huge marble bar and brass chandeliers), and you can expect dishes like a ratatouille & mozzarella sandwich and jamon-wrapped scallops.
Mini Mott is a new casual restaurant in Logan Square from the people who own Mott St.. It’s mostly about the burgers here: there’s the Mott St. burger, a mini version of that, and a vegetarian burger option. You’ll also find wings, fries, and soft serve.
A new counter-service BBQ spot in Evanston with ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sandwiches, and sides.
This is a new restaurant in Old Town focusing on (you guessed it) seafood. The menu has oysters, and dishes like a salmon tartare and a curry lobster stew.
Reid Bar is a new coffee shop and bar from the owners of River Roast, right next door. They serve housemade donuts, and in the evening there’s bar food like a prime rib sandwich and a cheeseburger.
Juniper Spirits & Oysters is a new all-day American restaurant in the Gold Coast’s Hotel Indigo.
A new West Loop coffee shop serving all-day breakfast dishes like biscuit sandwiches and toasts.
Dutch & Doc’s is a new brasserie in Wrigleyville from the same people who own the West Loop steakhouse Swift & Sons.
We checked out Dutch & Doc’s and added it to our Hit List
Ramen-san’s second location is now open in the West Loop. It has the same menu as the original in River North, along with some new dishes like a Japanese curry ramen.
The first Illinois location of a San Diego-based brewery. Ballast Point is in the West Loop, and in addition to beer, it has a menu of gastropub-style food.
Big Hill Bar And Grill is a new spot in North Park from the same people who own Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club. They serve food that goes well with drinking, like chips and guacamole, burgers, and wings.
Indian Clay Pot is a casual new restaurant in North Center serving both Northern and Southern Indian food.
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.
We checked out Passerotto and added it to our Hit List
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.
We checked out Pacific Standard Time and added it to our Hit List
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.
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.
We checked out Frunchroom and added it to our Hit List
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.