Summer’s here and the weather isn’t the only thing heating up. Chicago’s restaurant scene is primed for another season of big openings from some talented folks. Bartender Julia Momose’s Kumiko appears bound for stardom; Danny Grant’s Etta is bringing the fire to Bucktown; and Dana Cree will help Chicagoans cool off with Pretty Cool Ice Cream. As always, delays will inevitably occur but here’s what’s planned for the coming weeks.
Location: 630 W. Lake Street
Key Players: Julia Momose, Noah and Cara Sandoval
Acclaimed bartender and former Eater Young Gun Julia Momose is preparing to serve high-end cocktails in Chicago’s hottest neighborhood. The West Loop spot will be Japanese-inspired — an homage to Momose’s roots — and offer the option of an omakase-like experience. The drink list will include around a dozen concoctions, along with alcohol-free choices, but guests might have to do their due diligence to try them because there will only be up to eight seats at a time. Also involved in the project is the team behind two-Michelin-starred Oriole: Noah Sandoval is in charge of the food aspect while Cara Sandoval is helping to design the space and will run the front of the house.
Location: 1840 W. North Avenue
Key Player: Danny Grant
One of the city’s most stylish steakhouses is going a little less formal for a follow-up. Chef Danny Grant and the team will heat up Bucktown with wood-fire-driven cuisine and an approachable setting. The name, short for Henrietta, means “keeper of the hearth” in French and guests should look forward to rustic, seasonal items like pizzas, housemade pastas, and farm-fresh salads. It’s being billed as a “neighborhood restaurant” that seats 200 across two floors and has an outdoor patio and a special pick-up window.
Location: 1709 W. Chicago Avenue
Key Player: Mark Steuer
What happens when traditional German fare meets Southern flair? Well … no one’s really sure but Chicago is about to find out. Mark Steuer’s (Carriage House, El Che Bar) upcoming Bavarian beer hall, housed inside a West Town warehouse, will reflect his upbringing and meld two seemingly disparate cultures together for an intriguing mash-up. Bratwursts and schnitzels should find their way onto the menu as well as lesser-known items like wildgoulash. And in addition to pouring brews, the beverage program will offer cocktails made with unorthodox ingredients and a curated list of German wines.
Location: 2515 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Player: Bo Fowler
Bo Fowler is switching gears and going from British gastropub to Chinese brewpub for her much-anticipated new spot in Logan Square. The Owen & Engine owner will provide Chicagoans with beers imbued with Eastern flavor profiles alongside bold Pan-Asian bites. It wouldn’t be summer without some al fresco action, either, so the space is equipped with an upstairs patio and retractable roof. Another fun touch: Bixi, named after a mythological turtle-dragon creature, will sport tap handles designed by comic book writer Brian Azzarello.
Location: 2528 N. California Avenue
Key Players: Charles Welch, Andrew Miller
Being a long way away from the seas has never stopped Chicagoans from enjoying fresh catch and soon they’ll have another exciting purveyor to try. Chef Charles Welch and creative director Andrew Miller, who were previously at the now-defunct Honey’s, have formed Out to Lunch Hospitality and taken over the former space of The General for their new Mediterranean-focused restaurant. It will be a 44-seater with an outdoor patio and a casual atmosphere but the food, which should incorporate pastas and dishes from a wood-burning oven, will showcase Welch’s fine dining pedigree. The pair gave diners a preview last year during a pop-up run at Sink|Swim and highlights included braised octopus and scallops done in the style of taco al pastor.
Location: Trump Tower, 401 N. Wabash Avenue
Key Player: Nick Dostal
The city lost one of its few two-Michelin-starred restaurants when Sixteen shuttered in April inside Trump Tower Chicago. The Terrace 16 experience will unite the space’s elegant main room with the 200-seat outdoor patio. There will also be a large dining room bar and a complete redesign of the floors and furnishings. Chef Nick Dostal has returned and is creating a new menu of refined-yet-approachable small plates, which will include ora king salmon (charred cucumber, deli spices, dill yogurt), garden toast (wasabi tobiko, charred scallion, spring peas) and black cod (green onion sauce, cipollini onion, patty pan squash). Will Chicagoans flock to Terrace 16 when they were reluctant at Sixteen because of the name on outside the building?
Location: St. Jane hotel, 230 N. Michigan Avenue
Key Players: Aaron Lirette, Evan Sheridan
The St. Jane Chicago, the former Hard Rock Hotel, is about to get a load of (Michelin) star power in its kitchen. Former GreenRiver chef Aaron Lirette is taking the reins at a soon-to-open restaurant inside the hotel. He’s not the only one with fine dining experience, though, as pastry responsibilities will fall to Sixteen vet Evan Sheridan. Seasonal New American cuisine in a French-inspired atmosphere is the plan and the space will also host a cafe that specializes in European pastries and kombucha.
Location: 2353 N. California Avenue
Key Players: Dana Cree, Michael Ciapciak
The summer heat wave can oftentimes be brutal. Luckily, renowned pastry chef and James Beard Award nominee Dana Cree is opening an ice cream parlor to help take the edge off. Chicagoans will be able to cool off with creative treats taken straight out of her cookbook, which covers a wide spectrum of flavors that range from strawberry bubblegum to chocolate peanut butter brownie crunch. Partnering on the project is another local dessert favorite, Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, and together they’re hoping to deliver scoops of childhood nostalgia inside an 850-square-foot storefront. Cree said she’ll have more information to share in the coming weeks.
Location: 3433 W. Fullerton Avenue
Key Players: Charles Welch, Andrew Miller
Charles Welch and Andrew Miller are going to be busy this summer. In addition to Good Fortune, the two will also open a Caribbean-inspired bar that hopes to bring laid-back island vibes to Logan Square. The beverage program is centering on rum, gin, cachaça, and tequila combined with exotic fresh fruits, house-grown herbs, and rare spices. Local artwork will factor into the décor and the space, a blend of San Juan, Puerto Rico and the 80s neon craze, will host live music and DJs.
Location: 613 N. Wells Street
Key Players: John Terzian, Brian Toll
Start choosing a glam outfit and practice hitting those high notes, Chicago is going to be home to a new speakeasy-style lounge and karaoke bar. Though there’s no shortage of places to belt out a tune around town, Blind Dragon — a concept from h.wood Group with spots in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Dubai — aims to be more upscale than the rest. It’ll be located inside the Found Chicago Hotel and offer an assortment of Asian-inspired drinks and light bites. Expect three private suites, bottle service, and funky décor if its West Coast sibling is any indicator.
Location: 912 N. State Street
Key Players: Ryan O’Donnell, Chris Thompson, Jon Keeley, Ji Yoon
The Gold Coast is heavy on luxury but Ryan O’Donnell will try to please the everyday diner with his new restaurant inside the No. 9 Walton building from his new company, Ballyhoo Hospitality. O’Donnell is fashioning it to be the “big brother to Gemini,” a neighborhood American spot he also runs in Lincoln Park. The two-story venue will feature a cocktail bar downstairs that evokes the style of a private library while the 6,000-square-foot dining room on the second floor will provide prime views of bustling State Street. Ballyhoo’s culinary director Chris Thompson will work with executive chef Jon Keeley and pastry chef Ji Yoon on the rustic menu and the beverage program promises to boast creative concoctions.
Location: 1335 W. Wrightwood Avenue
Key Player: Louie Alexakis, David Tsirekas, Lou Canellis, Bill Glastris
A popular suburban Greek favorite is expanding to Chicago for its next act. Louie Alexakis, owner of Avli in Winnetka, will bring contemporary Greek fare to a neighborhood spot in Lincoln Park. The restaurant will offer all Greek wines, Greek coffee, housemade baked goods, and brunch on the weekends. This is the first of two projects by Alexakis, as he plans on opening a second city project in River North next year. Australian chef David Tsirekas is a consulting chef on the projects.