Chicago has taken some flack recently for an alleged lack of exciting new restaurants. If the first weeks of 2019 are any indication, however, this is the year the local dining scene emerges from its slump.
Since December, we’ve already landed new spots from some of the city’s biggest culinary names, and welcomed a few must-tries from newcomers. Feast your eyes on these four.
Since Julia Momose left the now-defunct GreenRiver two years ago, we’ve clamored for her return. At this brand-new Japanese-inspired bar and restaurant, where she’s teamed up with Noah and Cara Sandoval (of two-Michelin-starred Oriole), the cocktail guru is back with her most intriguing project to date. You’ll find her crafting cocktails with a selection of rare Japanese whiskies, shochu and sake; offering a rotating Japanese highball; and creating an inspired roster of spirit-free drinks. Settle into the main dining room to drink and dine a la carte, or snag a reservation at the eight-seat bar. If you choose the latter, strap in for a five-drink (personalized to your taste and non-alcoholic if you wish), $130 omakase-style cocktail tasting menu that’s served with small bites courtesy of Noah Sandoval.
Brothers and Sisters
Ukrainian Village gained an irresistibly charming newcomer when this all-day café, bottle shop and market entered the fold last month. Stop by in the morning for creamed eggs over toast, grab a salami sandwich for lunch or linger over snacks and a glass of wine in the evening. Both the menu and retail selection have a very Midwestern/cured meat bent thanks to co-owner and chef Jonny Hunter—a four-time Beard-nominated chef from Madison—and lead chef Abigail Zielke, who worked alongside him at his esteemed meat purveyor, Underground Food Collective. Furthering the culinary cred are co-owners Derek Herbster (Portsmith, Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers Chocolate) and Erin Carlman Weber, former events director for Stephanie Izard’s restaurants.
Speaking of Stephanie Izard, after recently announcing plans for a Peruvian concept inside the forthcoming Hoxton hotel and a Los Angeles location of Girl & the Goat, the Iron Chef again proved her tirelessness when she launched Tiny Goat on New Year’s weekend. Located in the private dining room above Little Goat Diner, the pop-up occurs but two evenings per month and allows Izard to dabble in fine-dining, while fans get to watch her execute her rotating tasting menus. The experience will set you back $125 (with beverage option pairings additional). Future dates include February 2 and 3, and keep an eye on Little Goat’s social media feeds for updates.
Can we seriously get excited about soft-serve in January? Yep, we totally can. L.A. chef Johnny Lee has brought his talents to Wicker Park, and the city’s dessert game is immediately better for it. At his tiny storefront you’ll find the gloriously creamy frosty treat in only two flavors: rich, almost peanut butter-like black sesame and earthy, complex matcha. Order a swirl topped with a wedge of matcha cheesecake for best results. Should you need to warm your insides, check out the milk teas and flavored hot chocolates.