Chicagoans have lots to look forward to in 2019 with plenty of upcoming restaurants representing a diverse scale. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ has a massive four-level river project. The crew from Michelin-starred Parachute is working on a mystery restaurant in Avondale. An acclaimed New Orleans chef is bringing modern Israeli food to Lincoln Park. There’s also a pair of upcoming Indian restaurants that hope to challenge Chicagoans on how the city defines food from the subcontinent.
The following are Chicago’s 10 most anticipated upcoming restaurants of 2019. The list only includes projects that are confirmed to open in 2019, so Curtis Duffy’s (Grace) upcoming Fulton Market restaurant can’t make the cut. The restaurants are not ranked, but listed in alphabetical order.
Address: 3472 N. Elston Avenue
Key Players: Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute)
The highly-acclaimed husband-and-wife team behind Michelin-starred Korean-American restaurant Parachute will give eagerly-awaiting diners a follow-up less than a block away sometime this year. Kim and Clark aren’t ready to share more details on it — including its name, cuisine, and other intel — so fans will have to wait a little longer for that information. What is known is the space at 3472 N. Elston Avenue will have an outdoor patio and that it’s slated to open in 2019. Stay tuned.
Address: Hoxton Hotel, 200 N. Green Street
Key Players: Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat), Boka Restaurant Group
After opening a Chinese restaurant (Duck Duck Goat), Iron Chef Stephanie Izard is aiming for another monster hit with Peruvian food with her fourth Chicago restaurant. Cabra, which fittingly means “goat” in Spanish, will mark the Top Chef champion’s first foray into Peruvian food on the rooftop of the forthcoming Hoxton Hotel in Fulton Market, a stone’s throw from her previous smash-hit restaurants Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, and the aforementioned Duck Duck Goat. Boka Restaurant Group partners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz are again partnering on this spot, as well as developing an unnamed restaurant on the ground floor of the Hoxton. Cabra is slated to open in the spring after Izard takes a South American trip for R&D.
Address: 2429 N. Lincoln Avenue
Key Players: Zach Engel (Shaya), Andrés Clavero (Nico Osteria)
Chef Zach Engel left New Orleans where he worked at Shaya, a prodigious Jewish restaurant founded by James Beard Award winner Alon Shaya. He’s teaming up with college friend Andrés Clavero, a Chicago restaurant management veteran, to open a Lincoln Park restaurant. Expect stellar pita to go along with modern Israeli dishes. Right now, the team’s putting together a wine list that’s heavy one bio-dynamical varietals, working with producers from Sonoma County, the Middle East, and elsewhere. They’re shooting for an early 2019 opening.
Address: 1460 W. Chicago Avenue
Key Players: Dave Park and Jennifer Tran (Hanbun)
Hanbun became a suburban sensation at a food court stall in Westmont, where the Korean restaurant’s casual lunch and creative dinner services propelled Dave Park to a 2017 Eater Young Gun award. Park and partner Tran have taken over the Green Zebra space in West Town to finally open a restaurant in the city proper. Expect elegant Korean food in a relaxed atmosphere. They’re shooting to open by the end of winter.
Address: 1846 W. Division Street
Key Players: Brian Galati and Chireal Jordan (Headquarters Beercade)
Wicker Parkers will soon get an ambitious new restaurant and flower shop from the people behind popular video game bars. Galati and Jordan want to take a more serious approach to their first dedicated restaurant. They’ve tapped former IPO chef Trevor Hoyte to engineer seasonal Midwestern-inspired cuisine, as well as Violet Hour veteran Aneka Saxon to put together the cocktail program. And perhaps Machine’s most distinctive aspect is that it will sell flower arrangements, some from a table-side floral cart. It’s slated to open in February in the former Taus Authentic space on the Division Street strip.
Address: 730 W. Coach Place
Key Player: B.K. Park (Juno)
Japanese omakase meals took off in 2018 in Chicago and the chef behind Lincoln Park sushi restaurant Juno doesn’t want to be left out. B.K. Park plans an intimate spot inside a West Loop luxury apartment building with a 13-seat counter and a 10-seats dining room. The 23-course tasting menu will cost $175 with wagyu nigiri, shiro anago (white saltwater eel), and more. After a few construction delays, Mako is slated to open by the end of January.
Address: 736 W. Randolph Street
Key Players: Vikram and Anu Bhambri (Rooh in San Francisco, Baar Baar in New York)
The West Loop is starving for Indian food, and Rooh appears to be the most lavish Indian restaurant Chicago has ever seen. Husband and wife Vikram and Anu Bhambri are restaurateurs from New Delhi and have successfully opened Rooh in San Francisco and Baar Baar in N.Y. The restaurants give Americans a glimpse into current Indian culinary trends including turmeric-spiked cocktails and unusual ingredients paired with classic dishes (seafood with dal). Expect creative cocktails and familiar Indian flavors with elegant presentations and unexpected ingredients on three floors. Rooh is set for a spring opening on Randolph Restaurant Row.
Address: 321 N. Clark Street
Key Players: RJ, Jerrod, and Molly Melman, Doug Psaltis, Giuliana and Bill Rancic (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises)
Chicago continues to make moves to beautify the area around the Chicago River, and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises — the city’s largest restaurant group — is doing its part with RPM on the Water, a massive four-level project. It’s split into three parts: An unnamed casual restaurant featuring seafood (on the same level as the river) should open in the spring. Above the casual restaurant, a 5,600-square-foot private event space will have its own 1,800-square-foot terrace overlooking the river. The final component is a two-level main restaurant. It also doesn’t have a name yet, but will have its own terrace when it hopefully opens in late 2019. The overarching “RPM on the Water” name is a working title and subject to tweaks.
Address: 3059 W. Diversey Avenue
Key Players: Zeeshan Shah and Yoshi Yamada (Bombay Breakdown), Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol)
Zeeshan Shah and Yoshi Yamada, the pair behind theBombay Breakdown pop-ups, are collaborating with Lula Cafe owner/chef Jason Hammel on this upcoming Indian-inspired Logan Square restaurant. The pop-ups were set at bars and offered a fun and irreverent take on Indian dishes (like a grilled cheese with paneer) Unlike Rooh, Superkhana has more of a desi feel. The restaurant pledges to “merge the Indian pantry with seasonal, local ingredients, cooking in a way that brings vegetables forward to share the spotlight.” They’re also working on crab curries and will bake naan and other breads in a New York-style pizza oven. Superkhana International is looking at an April opening.
Address: 2545 N. Kedzie Avenue
Key Players: Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue (Leisure Activities), Nick Jirasek, Julia McKinley
The space that housed Johnny’s Grill and Mezcaleria Las Flores should soon see life thanks to Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue, the Eater Award-winning bartenders who have gone from creating drinks (Sportsman’s Club) to opening bars (Ludlow Liquors). Young American will give Chicago CBD-infused cocktails from beverage director Julia McKinley (Lost Lake) and a dark menu (the food uses dark-colored ingredients for a macabre feel) from Old Habits at Ludlow Liquors chef Nick Jirasek. And the food will be really dark — Jirasek is channeling his inner goth with bread darkened with charcoal and leek ash. It could open as soon as the end of January.