Winter is coming and while laying in bed and binge-watching Netflix all day may seem very enticing, there are still lots of reasons to brave the elements. These upcoming 10 spots will provide all the warming comfort Chicagoans need in the form of inventive dishes, dazzling cocktails, and chic spaces. From a German beer hall to a shuffleboard club from Brooklyn, the season’s hottest openings are here to ensure you don’t hibernate through the next few months. As always, these tentative projections are subject to change because delays can, and inevitably will, occur.
Location: 2414 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Player: Dustin Drankiewicz
Craft cocktails are a dime a dozen in Logan Square but this forthcoming bar is striving to stand out thanks to retro vibes and cocktails. Dustin Drankiewicz, who also owns neighboring Deadbolt, is taking things back to a simpler time with a selection of old-school drinks from the Wisconsin supper clubs of yesteryear. Inspired by famed Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee, Pink Squirrel will create modernized versions of boozy milkshakes, Long Island iced teas, and more. It won’t be all about drinking, either, as the space will have a walk-up ice cream window and two bowling lanes to maximize the nostalgia factor.
Location: 1709 W. Chicago Avenue
Key Player: Mark Steuer
A stein of beer and some sausages are the best ways to stay warm during winter and Mark Steuer is more than happy to oblige. The former El Che Bar and Carriage House chef is opening a beer hall that will blend German flavors with his Southern upbringing. Expect hearty fare, such as massive schnitzels, cheesy spaetzle, and wildgoulash, to be on the menu. It’ll be paired with plenty of brews (of course), a curated list of European wines, out-of-the-box cocktails, and a jovial atmosphere set inside an old warehouse.
Location: 226 W. Kinzie Street
Key Player: Brendan Sodikoff
Never underestimate Brendan Sodikoff’s ability to turn a simple concept into a wildly successful dining destination. For his next project, he’ll deliver an affordable array of sushi, sakes, and Japanese izakaya fare. As has become custom at most of Hogsalt Hospitality’s restaurants, be prepared to wait — especially since Radio Anago will only seat 50 diners.
Location: 1450 W. Chicago Avenue
Key Players: Sari Zernich Worsham, Scott Worsham, Joe Campagna, Jeremy Leven
The owners behind Spanish-inspired mfk are headed back to the same region for their next project. Sari Zernich Worsham and Scott Worsham are partnering with industry vet Joe Campagna for a pinxto bar/French brasserie in West Town. The food will draw influences from coastal Spain and southwest France while placing an emphasis on seasonality. Look for it to have a “mom-and-pop” feel as well as elixirs like vermouth on tap.
Location: 2515 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Player: Bo Fowler
The long-awaited brewpub from Owen & Engine owner Bo Fowler is nearing completion. When it’s finished, Logan Square will have a new and exciting watering hole crowned with a retractable rooftop patio. Bixi, named after a mythical, turtle-like Chinese creature, will also serve a menu of Southeast Asian-inspired bites like dumplings and noodles. For service industry folks, the noodle bar should be a perfect late-night hangout to slurp up and grab a beer after their shifts.
Location: 1760 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Players: Jonathan Schnapp, Ashley Albert
Bucktown will soon be getting more fun and games in the form of a popular shuffleboard club. Brooklyn-based Royal Palms is expanding to the Midwest for its second outpost and hopes to attract a new generation of players to the classic pastime. It’ll be located in a spacious 17,000-square-foot warehouse next to the 606 trail and sport a rooftop deck for guests to soak up rays while playing. All that action is bound to cause hunger too so the building will also have a dock that food trucks can utilize.
Location: 63 W. Grand Avenue
Key Players: Doug Psaltis, Kaze Chan
Tupac and Biggie fans can soon settle their beef over sake and nigiri bombs. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s sequel to Ramen-san is pivoting from noodles to another Japanese specialty: sushi. Guests will enjoy pristine pieces of fish, Bintochan-grilled meats and veggies, hand rolls, and shaved ice cocktails courtesy of Doug Psaltis and executive chef Kaze Chan. Just like its older sibling, the vibe will be casual and powered by hip hop jams, while the space will house two bars with counter seating and an open kitchen.
Location: 111 W. Wacker Drive
Key Player: Rick Gresh
If ping pong clubs were the social hotspots of the past two years, then dart bars are poised to succeed them in 2018. The folks who brought AceBounce over from London are planning a new project that takes dead aim at darts. The bi-level space will sit next door to its sister concept and have 14 play areas, called oches, which can accommodate up to 20 guests. Rick Gresh will oversee the food here too, with the ground floor offering salads, flatbreads, and a raw bar while the upstairs area features dips and shareables. Add a 1900s English fairground-theme and botanical cocktails to the mix and you’ve got all the makings of an alluring escape in the heart of downtown.
Location: 6755 N. Cicero Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL
Key Player: Gina Stefani
Hot on the heels of their Roman-style pizzeria Bar Cargo, the Stefanis are back at it again with another project. This time they’re headed up north to enliven the Lincolnwood dining scene. Gina Stefani — who currently runs Mad Social — will be at the helm of the newly constructed steakhouse. Suburbanites can look forward to prime cuts of beef, seafood, and the family’s signature Italian dishes but Chicagoans need not feel left out as the restaurant will be located right off I-94 for an easy trip.
Location: 494 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Player: Tony Priolo
Tony Priolo and the team behind one of Chicago’s best Italian restaurants are trading the white tablecloths and Bolognese for casual digs and comfort food. The tavern, which is located across from Piccolo Sogno, gets its name from the Maillard reaction and will focus on various griddled burgers that have been browned. Other items include duck fat fries, doughnut sticks, soft-serve ice cream, and milkshakes. The space will be only seat 30 to 40 diners but bank on it being a late-night favorite for those leaving the nearby bars.