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The Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings in Chicago, Summer 2019

Chicago’s largest restaurant company, award-winning chefs, and an essential brewery all have anticipated restaurants

This rendering shows how the Chicago Riverwalk will be transformed after RPM on the Water opens.
| Rockwell Group [Official Rendering]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Award-winning chefs, Chicago’s largest restaurant company, and one of the city’s essential breweries all have projects lined up to debut this summer. The spring saw Boka Restaurant Group open its two hotly-anticipated Fulton Market restaurants inside the Hoxton Hotel, as well as a South Side food hall. A James Beard winner brought a touch of sophistication to Lincoln Park by opening Galit. The year’s not letting up with eight new restaurants to make summer worth enduring 50-degree June days. A quick word on restaurants that didn’t make the cut: Time Out Market and its 18 vendors are now targeting a fall opening, and so is chef Carlos Gaytan’s three River North restaurants. There will be more on those projects in the coming weeks. For now, get excited for the summer with these alphabetically listed previews.

Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar’s staff are ready to open their new spot, (From left to right) head bartender/GM Chase Bracamontes, chef Jason Vincent, chef Tom Scodari, chef Ben Lustbader, wine director Josh Perlman, and chef Aaron Kabot.
Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar/Galdones Photography

Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar

Address: 2165 N. Western Avenue, Bucktown

Key Players: Jason Vincent, Josh Perlman, Ben Lustbader, Chase Bracamontes, Tom Scodari, Aaron Kabot

The team behind Logan Square’s knockout hit Giant are opening their second restaurant, a throwback to their years growing up eating Chinese-American food in the Cleveland area. Jason Vincent and company have been previewing Chef’s Special’s food at Giant and were at Aspen Food & Wine Fest over the weekend to give people a taste of what to expect. A spokesperson said they’re excited to work with Edgewater’s own Phoenix Bean Tofu who will supply tofu for some unique American-Chinese dishes. Boone Interiors, the firm behind projects including Elske in West Loop and the Dawson in West Town, is creating a large bar and lounge area for the space. They’re gunning for a late summer opening.

Chef Paul Virant’s new restaurant will serve Japanese street food.
Paul Virant/Patrick Hipes


Address: 950 W. Lake Street, West Loop

Key Player: Paul Virant

Chef Paul Virant is one of Chicago’s most beloved chefs, having a five-year tenure at Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park before Boka Restaurant Group closed the restaurant in 2016. His suburban restaurant, Vie, continues to hum along in Western Springs. Now Virant ventures to the West Loop in a cultural departure for him. Gaijin will focus on okonomiyaki, the Japanese comfort food that resembles a griddled pancake. He’ll serve a few versions of the savory food, perhaps integrating a few non-traditional American ingredients. Virant is aiming for a September opening.

A beer bottle, a tulip glass filled with beer, and black truffles.
Moody Tongue is opening a new brewery with a taproom and restaurant near McCormick Place.
Moody Tongue Brewing [Official Photo]

Moody Tongue Brewing’s Taproom and Restaurant

Address: 2515 S. Wabash Avenue, Near South Side

Key Players: Jeremy Cohn, Jared Rouben, chef Jared Wentworth

Earlier this year, Moody Tongue announced the closure of its Pilsen tasting room, one of the prettiest places to enjoy a beer in Chicago. This was in preparation for their move across town into the former Baderbrau space near McCormick Place. Brewer Jared Rouben takes a chef’s approach to making beer, but they didn’t serve a full menu in Pilsen, only oysters and chocolate cake. That’s not the case at their new digs. Not only will Moody Tongue open a beer tasting room in their new space, but ownership also plans a fine-dining restaurant with Chicago industry vet Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle, Mordecai) as chef. They’re looking at a late summer opening.

Portrait of Carrie Nahabedian wearing a chef’s shirt.
Chef Carrie Nahabedian is cooking up something mysterious in River North.
Brindille/Paul Strabbing

Carrie and Michael Nahabedian’s Unnamed Restaurant

Address: 521 N. Rush Street, River North

Key Players: Carrie and Michael Nahabedian

This restaurant from chef Carrie Nahabedian and cousin Michael Nahabedian isn’t meant to be a substitute for Naha, their iconic River North restaurant that closed in March 2018 after 18 years. Reps haven’t released the name or much about the restaurant other than they’re shooting for a late-summer opening on the fifth floor of the Gwen: A Luxury Collection Hotel. Chef Nahabedian is a James Beard Award winner.

A riverside rendering of a multi-floor building with big glass windows and trees.
The first phase of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s new riverfront restaurant should open in July, take a look at a rendering.
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises/Goettsch Partners

RPM on the Water

Address: 317 N. Clark Street, River North

Key Players: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Doug Psaltis, Bill and Giuliana Rancic

As the city of Chicago continues to revamp the downtown riverfront, trying to make it an alternative to those who can’t find property along Lake Shore Drive, LEYE is working on a multi-level space with a pizzeria, upscale seafood restaurant, and private dining space. Pizzeria Portofino should open in the first week of July with hand-stretched pizza that’s supposed to be reminiscent of restaurants on the Italian Riviera. There’s also floor-to-ceiling windows that will open up to the Chicago Riverwalk. Other menu items to look forward to are charcoal-grilled cold-water red prawns and Mediterranean dorade. RPM on the Water (the seafood restaurant) is looking like a November opening. LEYE is Chicago’s largest restaurant company.

Superkhana International’s team of Yoshi Yamada, Jason Hammel, and Zeeshan Shah are ready to open in Logan Square.
Superkhana International [Official Photo]

Superkhana International

Address: 3059 W. Diversey Parkway, Logan Square

Key Players: Zeeshan Shah, Yoshi Yamada, Jason Hammel

Early July is the target for this eagerly anticipated restaurant that’s eager to flip the narrative of what an Indian restaurant can be in Chicago. For example, there’s no tandoor; its chefs will use a pizza oven (which will also bake pizzas). Yamada studied street food in India on a Fulbright scholarship. Hammel, the chef/owner at Lula Cafe in Logan Square, is serving as his friends’s spirit guide, showing them how to run a restaurant. The enclosed courtyard in back will be a hot ticket this summer.

This the logo for Utopian Tailgate, the upcoming Old Town rooftop bar.
Fifty/50 Restaurant Group [Official Logo]

Utopian Tailgate

Address: On the roof of Second City, 1616 N. Wells Street, Old Town

Key Players: Fifty/50 Restaurant Group’s Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner, chef Amber Lancaster, beverage director Dylan Seo

Fifty/50, which started as a Wicker Park sports bar 11 years ago, continues to stretch its wings with a variety of projects including this rooftop bar on top of Second City, the world-famous comedy club. The space is meant to celebrate the tailgate, the ritual of parking lot imbibing before a concert or sporting event. Dylan Seo, the drink director at the Sixth, the Fifty/50’s cocktail lounge in Lincoln Square, is creating a special batch of drinks for the bar. They’re shooting for a mid-August opening.

Johnny Clark and a pregnant Beverly Kim stand together holding hands and smiling.
Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim stand on the red carpet at the 2019 James Beard Awards.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago


Address: 3472 N. Elston Avenue, Avondale

Key Players: Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim

The team behind Parachute won their first James Beard Award in May, and soon after Kim gave birth to the couple’s third child. So to keep busy, Kim and Clark have decided to open their second restaurant this summer, just a few doors down from their first spot. Wherewithall is community oriented, a casual spot for breakfast and lunch. Evenings will feature a multi-coursed dinner that’s a bit more buttoned up. The chefs describe the menu as modern Chicagoan, which will give them liberties to dip into the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods. Kim and Clark are also promising a fun bar scene. They’re targeting a late summer opening.

Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago River, Chicago, IL 60601


2515 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 (312) 890-2728

Superkhana International

3059 W Diversey Avenue, Chicago, IL Visit Website

RPM On the Water

317 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 Visit Website

Moody Tongue Brewery

2136 S Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60608 (312) 600-5111 Visit Website

Moody Tongue Brewing Company

2515 South Wabash Avenue, , IL 60616 (312) 600-5111 Visit Website
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