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Chicago’s Media Predicts Restaurant Industry Headlines for 2023

Who wants to see Portillo’s open a speakeasy?

McDonald’s Brings Back The McRib Sandwich
One McRib to rule them all.
Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images
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.

Chicago’s media members dish on their headline predictions for 2023 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.

Samira Ahmed, best-selling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters, Internment, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Hollow Fires, Amira & Hamza, and a Ms. Marvel comic series: Everything old will be new again. Maybe because it’s winter and my inclination is towards all things comfort & joy, maybe it’s because of the swirling, breathless talk of recession, but either way, I think pinched pocketbooks and the general zeitgeist will have diners leaning towards the known, ideally with a slightly new take or spin.. As for me, my small hope for local dining in 2023 is for Lost Larsen to open a branch on the South Side so I do not have to travel to Andersonville (my old neighborhood) for a saffron bun and a nostalgic taste of princess cake, which long ago, was my birthday staple from the late, great Swedish Bakery.

Brenda Storch, Eater Chicago contributor: Social media continues to push food marketing in fascinating ways, creating and fueling trends. I find it amusing that #diningsolo and the demand for experiences attached to dining, simultaneously seem to emerge as patterns. If I had to label the latter, I would call it “foodtertainment.”

Maggie Hendricks, Bally Sports: Restaurants will come up with creative solutions to food shortages/inflation, focusing on local food.

A lamb chop with a bottle of opened wine and some red wine in a glass.
Are more creative Indian restaurants, like Indienne, on the horizon?
Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Matt Lindner, writer and marketing manager: 2023 is going to be the year that bars, restaurants, and breweries focus more on expanding and diversifying their non-alcoholic offerings. So much of Chicago’s dining and going out culture is alcohol driven. But with people focusing on living healthier and at the very least trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption, I think you’re going to see bars/restaurants get creative with their non-alcoholic offerings in order to stand out. From a brewery perspective, brands like Athletic have shown that there is a market for non-alcoholic beers if they’re done right. Offering one — or multiple — is going to help some enterprising brewery stand out from a market that is crowded with hazy IPAs and barrel aged gut bomb beers.

Other predictions — McDonald’s is going to offer a Chicago-only McRib-themed adult happy meal called the McDib. Order a McRib and get a McRib folding chair that you can use to hold your parking space in the winter.

Grant Achatz is going to decide that he wants to reinvent grilled cheese and tomato soup. People will pay $400 for it. It will be delicious, but you’ll swear your mom’s was better.

More collaborations between restaurants at the high and low end of the restaurant spectrum.

Indian food is going to be the big craze of 2023 with more restaurants offering more dishes from various regions in the country.

Breweries are going to up their food game. Old Irving has set the standard in Chicago and shown that you can do food that is as good as if not better than the beers you offer. With the market quite literally saturated with good beer, breweries are going to have to do something more to stand out. Upping their food game, and offering menus with food/beer pairings, is going to be one way they do just that.

Jeffy Mai, Time Out Chicago: Portillo’s to Open With a 1920s-Themed Speakeasy in Wrigleyville

David Manilow, Check, Please! creator and host of The Dining Table podcast: Wine Bars with, I hope, exceptional food.

A hand holding a hotdog in front of an organ Home Depot bucket on a ladder.
Home Depot pop-ups will be all the rage.
Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Michael Nagrant, The Hunger:

  1. Chicago Restaurant Staffing Shortages Solved As Lori Lightfoot Launches Rehabilitation and Jobs Program for Corrupt Aldermen
  2. Rose Mary Announces $90 Black Truffle Infused Miller High Life
  3. Boka Group, Jealous of Rose Mary, Announces $200 Longevity Water
  4. New Charlie Trotter Documentary Alleges Restaurant Success Was Actually a Team Effort
  5. Chicago Magazine Partners with Home Depot Hot Dog Stand for Secret Supper Dining Series
  6. Rick Bayless Posts TikTok Videos of Age-Appropriate Activities Like Sitting on a Couch
  7. NFT Holographic Menus of What A Chef Might Serve If The Service Industry Wasn’t Such A Dumpster Fire Replace Pop-Ups.
  8. Goose Island Buys Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, Renames It the Budweiser Goose Island Lighthouse. Will hold Barrel-Aged Bud Light Lime-a-Rita Black Friday Launch Party.

Sarah Spain, ESPN: It’s a selfish headline: I will attempt to make Bonhomme’s new French spot, Coquette, my own personal Cheers. After dining at Bambola next door my friends and I wandered over to Coquette and learned about its after-dinner “Parisian house party” ethos — guests mingling and drinking *behind* the bar, as if in someone’s kitchen. Between the party vibes, the records spinning and the insanely chic decor, you too will be tempted to belt out “Zou Bisou Bisou” to Don Draper in a rhinestone-embellished, sheer-sleeved dress.

Jay Westbrook, local craft beer professional: Restaurants are going to continue trending toward the notion of quality over quantity and executing smaller specialized menus as opposed to creating huge menus in an attempt to cover all bases and please everyone.


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Swedish Bakery

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