Chicago's Best New Restaurants for Spring 2018
Winters in Chicago seem to last forever—and then, a little bit longer. So when spring finally does roll around, Second City dwellers couldn't be happier—especially when the season brings with it a handful of exciting new restaurants and bars to experience. From ballpark-adjacent baked goods and beer to Caribbean vibes in Logan Square, here are six openings to get excited about.
Union Full Board and Tinker to Evers
For pizza, small plates and libations under one roof, it's all about the Wheelhouse Hotel, a five-story property opening in Wrigleyville this spring. Fans of Union Pizza in Evanston can now get a taste of the team's Detroit-inspired slices, in addition to surefire small plates like bruschetta, meatballs and salad. Cap it all off with a drink downstairs at Tinker to Evers, a tucked-away speakeasy lounge featuring an elevated portfolio of cocktails and local craft spirits.
The team behind Lady Gregory's and Wilde is at it again with this Andersonville opening, which will feature rustic, regional Mexican cuisine from chef Daniel Munoz. A dedication to local ingredients and bold flavors shows up in plates like the cochinita pibil, with slow-roasted pork, refried black beans and charred habanero, while tacos are served with chiles and potatoes and a medley of Baja fish varieties. Don't miss the cocktails, including the mescal old-fashioned with Lapsang souchong tea and sweet grass smoke.
Mussels and beer are the main event at this forthcoming Loop resto, where executive chef Austin Fausett will serve oysters on the half shell, hand-cut fries aplenty and steamed mussels with an array of fixings (from caramelized onions and nutmeg to Thai curry with coconut broth and coriander). Pair it all with drams from Melissa Carroll, whose selections will focus on Belgian-style and local brews.
Chicagoans can fully embrace warmer months with this forthcoming Logan Square spot, which will pride itself on laid-back island vibes and a beverage program focused on traditional Caribbean drinks. Credit that to lead bartender and partner Alexandra Wright's menu of culinary-driven cocktails, featuring a selection of native rums, small-batch gins, cachaça and tequila, alongside flavor boosters like exotic fresh fruits, in-house grown herbs and rare spices. It's a good way to kick off the bar's other specialty: dancing, thanks to a regular lineup of local live music and DJs.
The West Town and River North bakery is heading to Wrigleyville this April, when it will open within the brand-new Hotel Zachary. Expect the baked goods you know and love (i.e., those iconic cake balls and doughssants), along with an array of other fun additions, from stacked breakfast sandwiches to the spot's own take on soft-serve. And then, of course, there's the real buzz factor—a full cocktail program from bartender Nikki Allen that will feature sips like seasonal mimosas and the Wingie's Bloody Mary, complete with a chocolate-dipped chicharrόn.
Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig, Chicago's beloved wine- bar and restaurant, is bringing his spin on Greek street food to the upcoming Wells St. Market. Once the 10,000-square-foot food hall opens in a few months, look out for Bannos's spit-roasted souvlaki and a Chicago-style gyro that swaps lamb for rotisserie pork.
Nicole Schnitzler is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers travel, food and drink. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Follow her on Twitter at @write_to_eat.
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