Despite more than 12 months of grueling pandemic struggles, hope springs eternal: in March, restaurant workers were finally prioritized for COVID1-9 vaccines and hibernating venues have begun to reopen their doors. Work has resumed on long-delayed projects as restaurateurs and their backers begin to envision the future of post-pandemic dining in Chicago. Officials worry over a resurgence in infections, but that hasn’t stopped operators from pressing forward with their plans.
Chicago’s most prominent and exciting debuts this year come from a mix of popular local chefs and acclaimed national players. Residents will recognize names like hometown hero Joe Flamm, the Top Chef champion behind Rose Mary; star chef Stephen Gillanders, who is steadily expanding his local footprint with Apolonia; and Louie Alexakis, the creative engine behind modern Greek empire Avli. Notable out-of-towners will eventually include big names like celebrated chef and activist José Andrés, who is aiming for a summer opening at his forthcoming all-day cafe on the Chicago River.
Here is a constantly updated stream of Eater Chicago’s most anticipated restaurant openings of 2021.