Dining

Fall Preview: Chicago

The restaurants, bars and events we're looking forward to
Biggest Restaurant and Bar Openings and Cookbooks in Chicago
Clearly, we're ready for autumn | Photo: Tasting Table

We fully intend on savoring every last moment of summer bliss, but that doesn't preclude us from looking forward to the great things Chicago's culinary world promises this fall.

From fried chicken shacks to an innovative juice apothecary, here's a look at the new restaurants and bars we're anticipating with the changing season.

RESTAURANTS

Pitmaster and restaurateur Charlie McKenna's latest project, LQ Chicken Shack, will open early this fall adjacent to McKenna's southern BBQ restaurant Lillie's Q. The tiny to-go spot, designed to look like a chicken coop, will offer take-out buttermilk-battered fried chicken by the bucket and will operate separately from the dine-in area.

Mega-mogul Brendan Sodikoff has been busy with several ventures, including a Doughnut Vault expansion projected to be finished before the end of the year. Also on the docket: Bucktown pizza joint Roxie's by the Slice and a yet-to-be-named, multifaceted Japanese-French concept on Kinzie Street that will include a bakery and coffee shop, an oyster bar and a 16-seat sushi bar slated for November.

In other pizza news, LGN Group, the team behind Stout Barrel House, also plans to open a 'za shop this fall. Parlor Pizza Bar has taken up residence on Green Street behind Sodikoff's Green Street Smoked Meats, has expansive rooftop beer garden and ground-level patio seating.

The Big Star expansion project, which kicked into gear in June, is nearing completion. The addition will include more patio space and landscaping. Meanwhile, Dove's Luncheonette, Big Star's sister taco bar and Paul Kahan and One Off Hospitality's newest endeavor, is taking over the former Cipollina storefront. Kahan anticipates an early fall opening; diners can expect "Mexican-inspired soul food" such as chicken-fried chicken drenched in chorizo verde gravy and a creative riff on chile rellenos.

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Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, Vie) is set to open Vistro, his latest farm-to-table concept, in downtown Hinsdale. The space will have a rustic, bistro-style vibe, and the menu promises comfort food like fried chicken, meatloaf and wood-fired pizzas.

Element Collective (Nellcôte, RM Champagne Salon) and Anne Owen are gearing up for the opening of Logan Square's first and only juice apothecary, Owen + Alchemy. In addition to juices, milks, shakes and smoothies, guests can also select from a variety of seasonal salads and breakfast bowls.

And Hyde Park will have a new noodle-slurping spot when the second location of Matthias Merges's Yusho opens this fall. Expect the same great ramen, chicken and steamed buns as the original Logan Square outpost.

BARS

Sommeliers Jason Prah (formerly of Acadia) and Scott Harney (of Eno Wine Room) plan to open Bascule, a casual wine bar with a focus on international varietals and small plates, in the former Urban Union space on Taylor Street in Little Italy. The bar, slated to open by mid-September, will offer wines ranging from $20 to $100 a bottle and everything from mussels and flatbreads to charcuterie to soak it up.

Taking its name from a line from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet promises to be an alluring destination for wine lovers along Randolph Street's bustling Restaurant Row. The multilevel bar will primarily showcase American wines, and will likely open in late fall.

The team behind Cuvee is looking to a September opening for SHAY, an upscale cocktail bar and lounge. The bar took over the old Crescendo space on Ontario Street, and will have a decidedly feminine aesthetic with warm lighting, soft colors and luxe accents—making it prime for girls' nights out.

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CHEFS WEIGH IN

We asked a few prominent Chicago chefs about what they're looking forward to this fall; here's what they had to say:

Edward Kim (Ruxbin, Mott St.) has more to be excited about than Mott St.'s recently announced nomination for Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurant 2014: "Fall is my favorite season for cooking in Chicago, because I get to create dishes that are braised and babied—root vegetables that tend to be tougher and need to be manipulated just a little bit more so as to celebrate their flavor."

Young talents chefs Aaron Lirette and TJ Harville (both of Celeste) are looking forward to using game meats this season. "We'll be importing some wild game birds from D'Artagnan in Scotland, one of the few places in the world where you can purchase and sell for consumer consumption truly wild game meats raised and hunted on a preserve. We're also working with a new distributer from Kentucky that can provide us with fresh water fish."

EVENTS

The inaugural Mac & Cheese Fest will take place on October 4 at the UIC Forum and will include cheesy masterpieces created by local restaurants like Bar Pastoral, Enolo Wine Bar, Farmhouse, JP Burke's and more. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Ronald McDonald House; tickets go on sale September 1.

This fall, you can geek out over famous chefs at two buzz-worthy events: Chicago Gourmet 2014 (September 26 to 28) presented by Bon Appétit in Millennium Park, as well as Food Network in Concert (September 20) at Ravinia. Both events promise cooking demos by esteemed local and celebrity chefs, great eats and even more entertainment.

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