Summer’s here and some of Chicago’s best chefs are ready to heat up the dining scene with ambitious new restaurants. Don’t get left behind; the following spots will be the talk of the town over the next few months. From Japanese and Vietnamese flavors to star-studded collaborations, the eclectic variety should please a wide range of eaters. As always, these tentative projections are subject to change as delays can, and likely will, occur.
Address: 565 W. Randolph St.
The team behind one of Chicago’s most acclaimed restaurants is putting the finishing touches on its globally-inspired followup and will open its doors on June 13. Located just around the corner from Sepia, Proxi will be a more casual dining experience from chef Andrew Zimmerman and co-owner Emmanuel Nony. The menu will be comprised of international street fare that makes use of the kitchen’s wood-burning grill and coal-burning oven. The beverage program is led by bartender Josh Relkin and will likewise take the same approach, focusing on cocktails and beers from around the world.
Address: 1800 S. Carpenter St.
It’s been a long road back but Thai and Danielle Dang are almost ready to unleash their Vietnamese flavors on Pilsen. The former Embeya chef is embracing his roots and utilizing custom-made clay pots that cook over an open flame to fire up items like quail with chile-lime salt. Other favorites such as the popular papaya salad and whole-fried fish will also return, and diners who want a taste of everything can opt for the tasting menu. Danielle has taken the lead on the restaurant’s design, which incorporates elements and effects from Vietnam, as well as the beverage program.
Address: 2500 W. Chicago Ave.
Diners will be able to indulge in some modern comfort food on June 12 courtesy of the talented Zoe Schor. Since leaving Ada Street, she’s been hard at work building her first restaurant in West Town. Her “New Americana” dishes will feature reimagined versions of classics, including loaded baked potato gnocchi, chicken nuggets, and pretzel Jello salad. Cocktails will follow a similar format and wine connoisseurs will have a number of domestic wines at various price points to choose from. As for the décor, Schor has given the industrial space a warmer feeling with Persian rugs, plants, and photos of quintessential Americana. Guests can also watch the action going on in the open kitchen and relax to the sounds of a soulful playlist.
Address: 564 W. Randolph St.
The Boka Restaurant Group is gearing up for another big opening this summer. This time it’s a collaboration with 2015 Eater Chicago Chef of the Year Jimmy Papadopoulos in the former Embeya space. The team will spruce up the already beautiful dining room so that Papadopoulos can showcase a “New American Classic” menu that he describes as “very warm, very soulful, very fluid.”
Address: 326 N. Morgan St.
Jim Meehan, the man responsible for New York’s heralded speakeasy PDT, is partnering with Heisler Hospitality for a new project in red-hot Fulton Market. As the name suggests, the bar is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned Prairie School style of architecture and will occupy half of a 9,000 square-foot space inside Chicago’s “Google Building.” Details are still forthcoming but guests can look forward to an experience that “push[es] the envelope on everything from bar design to cocktails to hospitality.”
Address: 817 W. Lake St.
Get ready for Hollywood glitz and glam when BLVD makes its debut in the West Loop this summer. The ‘50s-themed project will sit in a completely revamped 10,000 square-foot building that houses two floors with multiple dining rooms and bars. Designer Karen Herold of Studio K is in charge of the aesthetics, which looks to evoke the style of Los Angeles’ Art Deco and Hollywood Regency eras. Expect “grandiose decor,” including a grand staircase that wraps around the main bar, and a selection of modern American shareable plates from former Pump Room vet Ross Mendoza.
Address: 205 E. Pearson St.
Dining options located inside attractions are often pitfalls. Jason Hammel looks to change that by curating the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new restaurant menu. The Lula Cafe owner’s latest project is part of the museum’s ongoing renovations and will be accessible to guests from the street. The name comes from Marisol Escobar, a 1960s sculptor who mostly expressed herself through her work—something Hammel hopes the food will do. Lula’s former chef de cuisine Sarah Rinkavage will oversee seasonal dishes such as dry-aged beef with spring onions and black currants; and swordfish with sunflower seeds and English peas.
Address: 226 W. Kinzie St.
Chicago’s most versatile restaurateur is bringing a sushi/izakaya eatery to River North. Radio Anago will be located next to one of Brendan Sodikoff’s other hotspots, Gilt Bar, and offer an affordable variety of maki rolls, sakes, and other Japanese bites. The cozy space will be relatively small—seating only 40 to 50—meaning customers should prepare for the customary wait that’s become the norm at many of Sodikoff’s restaurants.
Address: 311 N. Morgan St.
After making a triumphant return last year with Eater 38 member Giant, Jason Vincent is set to help anchor the ground-floor restaurant at the upcoming Ace Hotel. He’s enlisted Pat Sheerin to come on as executive chef and develop offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch lovers should be ecstatic to know that it will be served every day alongside lounge and late-night menus. Sample items to get excited about include a “gas station sandwich” of hash browns, cheese, and eggs on an English muffin; and Dungeness crab with tomatoes, sweet butter, and house bread.
Address: 1239 W. 18th St.
With more and more culinary talent venturing south of Madison Street, Pilsen has emerged as a burgeoning neighborhood for new projects. Stephen Gillanders will soon join the fray with his first restaurant S.K.Y. The former executive chef at Intro recently left Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, but is staying in Chicago to try to soar to new heights despite initially planning a move to Los Angeles. His elevated-yet-approachable style of cooking will feature global influences from Mexico, Italy, and Korea, while the wine program will also be a main focal point.
Leviathan / Portsmith
Address: 660 N. State St.
Having successfully launched the Dana Hotel and Spa’s rooftop spot Apogee, The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group is turning its attention to two other projects inside the building. Benjamin Schiller promises elegant and visually stimulating cocktails at Leviathan, a moody mezzanine level bar that draws its inspiration from the mythical sea monster. In keeping with the theme, the drinks will feature plenty of gin and rum and “evoke darker imagery.” Downstairs on the ground floor, executive chef Nate Henssler is flying in fresh catch while pastry chef Chris Teixeria delivers sweet treats for the seafood-centric Portsmith.
Address: 339 N. Dearborn St.
This Los Angeles import will soon give River North some sexy vibes and Japanese fare. To bring a local face into the mix, Innovative Dining Group has tapped Jason Chan to run the large-scale operation. The restaurant’s 13,000 square-foot space will provide guests lots of room to see-and-be-seen as they try fresh sushi, robata-style skewers, and premium sakes.
Address: 11 E. Walton Pl.
Celebrity chef Michael Mina is striving to make French cuisine in vogue again when he opens his first Chicago eatery inside the Waldorf Astoria. The man in charge of the kitchen will be Brent Balika, who previously worked at The Dawson. He’ll use classic techniques and Midwestern ingredients to produce French staples like roast chicken and Dover sole meunière. Complementing those plates will be a roving Champagne cart that offers patrons a rotating selection of bubbles.