Winter is coming and with it, the urge to stay inside and curl up under the covers when the snow starts falling. You’re going to need a lot of sustenance to make it through a six-season binge of Game of Thrones, though, because the cold (and Westoros) should not be braved on an empty stomach. Let these notable, upcoming restaurants be the impetus that gets you out of the house.
The coming months will see talented chefs like Thai Dang and Zoë Schor make triumphant returns with their own restaurants, along with other exciting ventures that include a Latin speakeasy in the West Loop and a four-in-one Mexican concept. Pizza fanatics should also be ecstatic to know that the iconic Burt’s Place will soon be slinging its famous pies again. As always, these projections are subject to change because delays can, and likely will, occur. In the meantime, start reading up on which hotspots will keep you warm this season.
Address: 738 W. Randolph St.
The city's rum rush shows no signs of stopping as Restaurant Row will soon get in on the action. While there are Latin concepts abound in Chicago, Ronero is hoping to separate itself from the pack with chef Cory Morris (Mercat a la Planxa, Rural Society) at the helm and a speakeasy cocktail lounge on the second floor. The opening menu—inspired by Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil—will feature traditional and iconic dishes of South America, such as Colombian fried whole snapper with coconut-cola rice and crispy plantains; and Peruvian pork shoulder cooked in banana leaf with aji pancha. Beverage director Allie Kim will complement the food with large-format Latin cocktails that are poured tableside and a curated rum selection.
Address: 4229 N. Lincoln Ave.
Iliana Regan's much-anticipated, oft-delayed izakaya is nearing completion. It will be the chef's first new project since her beloved Bunny, The Micro Bakery suddenly shuttered in 2016. Unlike the fine dining experience at Elizabeth, Kitsune will offer a more casual approach that's influenced by home-style Japanese cuisine, with a focus on Midwestern ingredients. Look for everything from oysters and ramen to whiskey-glazed donuts and a seasonal $55 Washoku family-style menu.
Address: 1800 S. Carpenter St.
Recent history has shown that it takes two to build a great restaurant. Husband-and-wife duos have been the backbones of many of Chicago's hottest openings, and Thai and Danielle Dang look to continue that streak with their Vietnamese project in Pilsen. Despite some setbacks, the former Embeya chef is ready to make his comeback by returning to his roots. That means cooking in clay pots over an open flame—a popular technique in his homeland—and producing specialties like his signature green papaya salad as well as Vietnamese BBQ with grilled prawns and charred pork cheeks. Danielle will oversee the beverage program and is also the one behind the space's chic style and décor.
Address: 2500 W. Chicago Ave.
Since splitting from Ada Street in 2015, chef Zoë Schor has laid low working on her first restaurant. Now those plans are about to come to fruition in West Town as she returns to the kitchen this winter. The menu will boast elevated small plates and revamped comfort foods that represent America's melting pot history. Some of the dishes that have been showcased during previews so far include "A Study of Eggs" (64 degree hen egg, uni cream, caviar, brioche toast), and "Fajitas, Reimagined" (dry-aged strip loin, creamy masa, caramelized onion, red pepper gel).
Address: 933 N. Ashland Ave.
Numerous critically-acclaimed restaurants have proven that some of the best dishes can come from the smallest places. This high-end, 20-seat spot hopes to join the city’s elite when it launches and it has plenty of talent to back up its promise. Chefs Sam Plotnick and Evan Fullerton, who met at Les Nomades, are teaming up to deliver eight- to ten-course tasting menus that highlight seasonal "Contemporary American" flavors. At preview dinners that took place over the summer, guests enjoyed a variety of dishes including the signature rabbit cooked three ways: tandoori-spiced loin, roasted rack of rabbit and braised rabbit leg with carrot puree.
Address: 2456 N. California Ave.
The season’s most ambitious opening is this four-pronged project that aims to be a one stop shop for Oaxacan fare. The man behind the operation is Dan Salls, an industry vet who previously ran a food truck (The Salsa Truck) and a restaurant and event space (The Garage). His new spot will serve as a coffee bar and casual café during the day before transforming into a full-service restaurant and taqueria at night. On top of all that, a 40-seat subterranean mezcaleria will help patrons pass the time with extensive selections of agave spirits, tequila and sotol and bar bites like chapulines—fried grasshoppers that are popular in the region.
Address: 630 N. Rush St.
Aspiring 00 agents will soon have a new spot to geek out over as Milwaukee’s iconic spy-themed speakeasy bar and restaurant is set to open inside the AC Hotel Chicago Downtown. It’s just the second location of the famed 50-year-old eatery, which has attracted guests up north with a plethora of espionage-themed memorabilia, food and martinis that even James Bond would approve of. The Chicago expansion is receiving some aesthetic upgrades that will modernize it but many of the classic touches will remain, such as requiring a secret password to gain entrance.
Address: 1748 W. Lake St.
Catering giant Paramount Events is getting into the restaurant side of the business, enticing guests with New American cuisine that incorporates Mediterranean elements. Chef and partner Devon Quinn takes on the traditional flavors of Portugal, Egypt, Morocco and more to create a spread that ranges from umami donuts to braised duck lasagna and seared calamari. Many of the veggies will be grown on-site, and housemade pastas and fish will feature heavily as well. So even if sipping a caipirinha on the Algarve coast isn't in the cards this season, you can still distract yourself from the cold with some bright and fresh fare.
Address: 5959 N. Broadway St.
Death and taxes are the only certainties in life but alcohol definitely helps make that realization more bearable. And there will be no better place to drown your sorrows than at this neighborhood wine bar and cocktail lounge when its doors open. Expect affordable bottles and glasses alongside chef Ryan Henderson's—whose previous stints included cooking with Wylie Dufresne and David Chang—comfortable, homey European dishes that highlight the wine.
Address: 8541 Ferris Ave., Morton Grove
Chicago lost a culinary legend in 2015 when Burt Katz passed away and his Morton Grove pizzeria was shuttered. Fortunately, the restaurant will soon be resurrected under new management and those famous pan pies with caramelized crusts will be baking again. Cousins Jerry Petrow and John Munao worked closely with Katz in his final months to ensure that quality is up to the high standards, and they're also sprucing up the dining room and adding a side patio. The menu will remain largely unchanged while those adverse to carrying cash should be pleased to know credit cards will now be accepted.