The final days of summer are here and soon the leaves will change. Just because the temperatures will drop doesn’t mean the restaurant scene is cooling off, however. Fall brings with it a new group of hotly anticipated spots: Julia Momose’s cocktail bar Kumiko looks to be the toast of the town when it arrives and Pan-Asian Tao is going to be a party in River North. Elsewhere, Grace’s replacement approaches while the Saved by the Max crew is reuniting for Dorian’s. As always, delays are inevitable but here’s what’s slated for the next few months.
Address: 630 W. Lake Street
Key Players: Julia Momose, Noah and Cara Sandoval
Chicago’s most anticipated cocktail bar inches closer and closer to opening. Former Eater Young Gun Julia Momose will showcase her skills at an intimate, Japanese-inspired spot in the city’s hottest neighborhood — West Loop. In addition to roughly a dozen a la carte concoctions, guests can also let the bartenders dictate the experience by indulging in the omakase menu. It won’t all be about alcohol, though, as Momose plans to have a spirit-free selection of drinks as well. Rounding out Kumiko’s team are Noah and Cara Sandoval of Oriole, who will create complementary bites and run the front of house.
Address: 632 N. Dearborn Street
Key Players: Tao Group, Four Corners
The party is about to really rev up in River North because Tao, the Pan-Asian clubstaurant group with the highest-grossing independent eatery in America, is coming to town. Tao Group has taken over a 126-year-old building that used to house several nightclubs and is transforming it into an impressive-looking multi-level venue. Designed by Rockwell Group, the 34,000-square-foot space features lofty brick walls, illuminated archways, a 20-foot-tall mural from the artist Hush, and a subterranean vibe. Based on other locations, diners should expect to see items like sushi and Peking duck on the menu.
Address: 2528 N. California Avenue
Key Players: Charles Welch, Andrew Miller
After a successful pop-up stint last year, Charles Welch is almost ready to unleash the full version of his seafood-centric Mediterranean project. The ex-Honey’s chef has partnered with creative director Andrew Miller to form Out to Lunch Hospitality as the two look to spread their brand of good fortune in Logan Square. They aim for the 44-seat restaurant to be a casual affair that puts the spotlight on Welch’s fine-dining pedigree. The kitchen’s wood-burning oven will crank out larger cuts of meat and fish alongside house-made pastas.
Address: 652 W. Randolph Street
Key Players: Mari Katsumura, Michael Olszewski
Japanese-French cuisine is on its way to the elegant former home of Grace. The operation will be led by Mari Katsumura and mark a new chapter for the shuttered three-Michelin-starred restaurant’s former space. Katsumura’s resume is highlighted by her pastry work at acclaimed places like Grace, Acadia, Entente, and more. She’ll switch gears to savory dishes and create a contemporary fine dining menu that uses French influences in Japanese fare. One example is her miso soup: The dashi broth is clarified with agar and will be finished with tofu or custard. The restaurant could open as early as September.
Address: 1939 W. North Avenue
Key Players: Brian Fisher, Derek Berry, Zack Eastman, Steve Harris
The Wicker Park space that dished out ‘90s nostalgia in the form of 2016’s hit pop-up Saved by the Max will soon have a new spot from the same team. Dorian’s is slated to be a new permanent restaurant and bar starring chef Brian Fisher and should open in mid-September. Fisher, who also served as executive chef during The Max’s run and currently works at Michelin-starred Entente, plans a menu of shared dishes which will be globally inspired. They’re also promising creative cocktails from John Hess, the former ice chef at the Aviary. The 1960s will inspire the decor, patrons will enter through a record shop, and it’ll also host live music and DJs sets. The space is named after Dorian “Big E” Cole, a Max employee who died in September 2017. The same faces who were involved in the Max are returning, including Derek Berry (Beauty Bar), Steve Harris (Debonair Social Club), and Zack Eastman (The East Room).
Address: 2301 W. Roscoe Street
Key Players: Sandy Chen, Ryan Brosseau, Terry McNeese
Roscoe Village dining is setting sail for southeast France with a mid-September targeted opening. Le Sud will be a two-story restaurant with a rooftop deck from owner Sandy Chen (Chen’s, Koi Fine Asian Dining). The cooking of chef Ryan Brosseau will focus on the Provence region so anticipate items like foie gras, duck breast, and roast chicken. Former Gage and Henri sommelier Terry McNeese is overseeing the wine and beverage program.
Address: 133 E. Cermak Road
Key Players: Concentrics Restaurant Group, Nolan Narut, John Williams
Rooftop bars are seemingly never going out of style but the South Side hasn’t quite seen the boom yet. This new spot from Concentrics Restaurant Group, the company responsible for ROOF on theWit, may be the spark that changes that when it opens near McCormick Place in the fall. The 13,000-square-feet establishment will be 22 stories above ground and feature a 16-seat karaoke room, solarium, 100-foot video wall, and private event space. Nolan Narut (previously of Stefani Prime) is handling the food, while former Mercat a la Planxa sommelier and GM John Williams will curate the beverage selection.
Address: 451 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Key Players: Dustin Drankiewicz, Lamar Moore
Dustin Drankiewicz — the acclaimed barman who helped launch MONEYGUN, Pink Squirrel, and Deadbolt — has set sights on River West for his latest project. He and Lamar Moore, the former chef of Currency Exchange Cafe, are renovating the bilevel space that used to be Paramount Room. The first floor will be outfitted with retractable windows and seating for 75 people. Look forward to no-fuss cocktails paired with tacos, steaks, seafood, and traditional Southern fare.
Address: 1846 W. Division Street
Key Players: Brian Galati, Chireal Jordan, Trevor Hoyte, Aneka Saxon
It’s not another arcade bar but the owners of Headquarters Beercade have a new project in the works. Machine is slated to be a restaurant and bar with a design that “promises to be unlike anything patrons have seen before.” Chef Trevor Hoyte will craft seasonal dishes with a Midwestern touch to complement former Violet Hour bartender Aneka Saxon’s unique cocktails. There will also be a floral component so that guests can stop in for flowers or create a bouquet table-side during dinner.
Address: 1658 E. 53rd Street
Key Players: Michael Scott Carter, Brennan Nichols, Anicia Peden, Fabiana Carter
Bookworms, rejoice: The people behind Fabiana’s Bakery in Hyde Park are bringing more than just an average bar to the area. Bibliophile promises to be a unique gastropub that serves boozy desserts and also offer a curated selection of books for sale. It’ll have a ’50 vibes and classic cocktails, and room for about 90 customers. The menu will include comforts like shrimp and grits, lemon pound cake with limoncello drizzle, and Kentucky butter cake with bourbon.
Address: 900 N. Michigan Avenue
Key Player: Hogsalt Hospitality
Chicagoans can’t get enough of food halls so Hogsalt Hospitality is getting in on the action. Located on the fifth and sixth floors inside 900 North Michigan Shops, Aster Hall will offer 16 different food “vaults.” The lineup will include ramen, tacos, sushi, hot dogs, and more, all of which can be ordered from kiosks throughout the shopping center or via phone. AvroKO has designed the space that Hogsalt founder Brendan Sodikoff hopes will add life and energy to the Mag Mile.