Wondering what’s in the works in the Chicago area for restaurants, bars, and cafes? Look no further than Eater Chicago’s guide to winter 2023’s coming attractions for dining. Did we miss something? Send Eater Chicago a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andersonville: Owners of the Understudy, a long-awaited theater bookshop and cafe that’s been in the works for nearly a year, are training staff and preparing to reveal an opening date at 5531 N. Clark Street, according to an Instagram post. Co-owners and spouses Adam Todd Crawford and Danny Fender plan to stock plays, host performances, and serve plenty of Metric coffee. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are endlessly grateful for this group’s help in getting us to opening day,” they write. “Stay tuned for an official announcement... the curtain rises very soon.”
Lincoln Park: Belgian chocolate cafe Leonidas has put up signs in the windows at 1964 N. Halsted Street, the former home of century-old butchery icon Gepperth’s Meat Market. Leonidas also operates a location on the Near North Side, as well as two suburban outposts. When the market closed in May 2022, owner Vincent Colombet said he was considering opening a restaurant in the space, but that plan didn’t come to fruition.
Lincoln Park: All-you-can-eat mini-chain Sushi Taku is pegged to take over the former home of State, the sports bar run by the family of former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias at 935 W. Webster Avenue, according to Block Club. Chicago construction company Mavrek Development began construction in February on the building, which will include two ground-floor retail spaces and apartments on the second and third floors. Sushi Taku is slated to debut in June and operates locations in Wicker Park and Logan Square.
Logan Square: Otto Phan, the chef behind intimate omakase den Kyoten, has applied for a liquor license for a forthcoming restaurant just around the corner at 2513 W. Armitage Avenue. Phan, who also was an opening consultant on Hinoki Sushiko in 2021 along the Elston Industrial Corridor, says he isn’t yet prepared to disclose details. The license reads “Kyoten Next Door.”
Logan Square/Bucktown: “Coming soon” signs are up in the windows of Wave Sushi, a new Japanese restaurant coming to 1858 N. Western Avenue. Ownership has also applied for a liquor license.
North Center: Demolition crews in late February razed the building that housed Chicago Joe’s, a longtime restaurant haven for White Sox fans that closed in 2019 after 33 years at 2250 W. Irving Park Road. Ownership group Landrosh Development has publicized plans to build an apartment building with retail space.
North Lawndale: 14Forty Sports Grill and Bar, a new tavern from North Lawndale native and U.S. Army veteran Shatondrea Cox, is slated to open in September at 1440 S. Kedzie Avenue, aided by a $184,000 Community Development Grant from the city, according to Block Club. Cox comes from a family of bar owners who once operated inside the Kedzie Avenue building under the name Enterprise. The grant she received is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, a citywide economic initiative that aims to help local businesses in the wake of pandemic upheaval.
Uptown: Mariana’s Bistro, a permanent home for formerly virtual Puerto Rican restaurant Mariana’s Cafe, is aiming for a late April opening at 4554 N. Magnolia Avenue, owner Eric Roldan writes in a comment on Instagram. He’s planning to serve regional favorites such as mofongo and lechon asado.
West Loop: Major construction is underway at the Back Room, a live jazz venue and bar at 318 N. Carpenter Street. Ownership is posting photos of the proceedings to Facebook and promises “a whole new vibe,” including a newly designed Chiladon Cafe, an all-day spot where patrons can find food and drinks. A jazz and soul destination for nearly half a century in Gold Coast, the Back Room moved in 2012 down the street from its original Rush Street home. It relocated again in 2022 to the eight-story Carpenter Street building across from Google’s Chicago headquarters.
Wrigleyville: Small Cheval, the spinoff of local burger giant Au Cheval, has announced plans to open a new location in the spring when the Cubs’ season kicks off. The brand’s sixth outpost will replace Maddon’s Post, the restaurant from former Cubs manager Joe Maddon and James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) that closed in late 2019 after just seven months in business at 1119 W. Waveland Avenue.
Evanston: Devil Dawgs, one of Chicago’s best sausage spots, has announced plans to open its first suburban location this summer at 921 Church Street in Evanston, according to a rep. The team will offer a menu of hits and collaborations with local chefs including Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, Mordecai) and Andrew Brochu (Roister), such as Merges’ Iceland Dawg (sweet dijon, ketchup, remoulade, onion) and Brochu’s classic fried chicken sandwich.
Around Town: Prolific Chicago restaurateur and franchisee Tony Hu (Lao Sze Chuan, Shoo Loong Kan) has at least six additional locations of bubble tea and dessert cafe Te’Amo Boba Bar in the works. He’s locked down forthcoming outposts at Navy Pier, Willis Tower, 36 S. Michigan, and 613 W. Diversey, as well as Algonquin Mall, and 88 Marketplace in Pilsen.
Andersonville: 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez has granted a zoning change to LGBTQ cocktail hot spot Nobody’s Darling as its co-owners pursue an expansion plan that would nearly double the bar’s capacity. Co-owners Renauda Riddle and Angela Barnes hope to create a 10-foot opening in the wall that currently divides the current bar space from the building next door, growing the capacity from 65 to 110. Chicago’s City Council included the zoning proposal on its meeting agenda in January but its decision is not yet available.
Lakeview: Signage has gone up for a third location of Evette’s, the Lebanese and Mexican mash-up from owner Mitchell AbouJamra. Coincidentally, AbouJamra is from Michigan and is taking over the Leo’s Coney Island space at 2807 N. Sheffield Avenue.
Logan Square/Bucktown: Operators of a new Japanese restaurant, Wave Sushi, have applied for a liquor license at 1858 N. Western Avenue.
Old Town: After more than seven months of waiting, Gianni Gallucci of Gallucci Pizzeria Napoletana has finally secured a business license for Gallucci Italian Imports, his new Italian deli and Market coming to 301 W. North Avenue, according to an Instagram post. Following a long and difficult licensing process, he says the business should open in around 90 days, or just under three months.
River North: Leadership of celebrity magnet steakhouse Chicago Cut has announced plans to expand into the second floor of its riverside building at 300 N. LaSalle Street, according to Crain’s. The additional 4,500 square-foot space will be entirely devoted to private dining, which means that the first-floor bar area can be doubled in size, managing partner David Flom tells reporters.
West Town: Signage is up for Chicago Empanada Mama at 1703 W. Chicago Avenue. This eatery, which will have 77 seats, is not affiliated with the simularly named restaurant on Broadway in Lakeview. The restuarant should open in mid-April, says owner Inez Melendez.
Wicker Park: Ella’s BBQ, a neighborhood barbecue destination in Lincoln Park, will soon expand on a second location in Wicker Park and construction is well underway, according to an Instagram post. It’s co-owned by spouses Gosia Pieniazek and Art Wnorowski, also behind Earl’s Drive-Thru BBQ and shuttered brunch spot Lokal. “Soon! BBQ, steaks, craft cocktails, and more,” they write on social media.
Bucktown: Local caterer Ambrosia Foods is at work on a new coffee shop at 2241 N. Western Avenue in the former home of Chay Fretello’s, per signage in the space’s windows and a promise to open “soon” on Instagram.
Goose Island: Chicago’s only Hardee’s could soon open at the southeast corner of Halsted and Division, attached to an Exxon gas station at 736 W. Division Street. The fast-food chain, with 1,800 locations in the U.S., hasn’t responded to a message for comment, but they are in the hiring stage. There are more than 90 locations in Illinois, mostly downstate.
Grand Boulevard: Yasmin Curtis, the owner of seven-year-old seafood boil spot Two Fish Crab Shack on 47th Street, is embarking on a $9 million project that includes new construction for an expanded restaurant as well as 10 two- and three-bedroom apartments, according to Block Club Chicago. The ambitious endeavor has been in the works since 2019, Curtis tells reporters, and she hopes it will be complete by 2025.
Lincoln Square: Chicago’s famed Old Town School of Folk Music, a nationally known school that’s been around for six decades with a live music venue, hopes to open a restaurant with a performance space and rooftop terrace at 4530 N. Lincoln Avenue in the former home of the Grafton Irish Pub and Grill, according to Block Club Chicago. Though the new establishment remains unnamed for now, venue owners will request a zoning change to add the rooftop space and are considering converting the building’s first floor into a music retail area. A neighborhood institution in its own right, the Grafton closed in late August 2022 after nearly two decades.
O’Hare International Airport/Northbrook: Chicago-based quick-serve chain Protein Bar will soon open two new locations in the Chicago area, according to Crain’s. The brand’s first airport location, slated for a spot just past security in Terminal 5, will initially launch in February as a grab-and-go pop-up until its permanent space is ready in the summer. A suburban outpost is scheduled to open in March in Northbrook.
South Loop: Marci Berner and Julia Paphitis, co-owners of five-year-old mini-chain Tatas Tacos, are planning for a spring 2023 debut for their new Chicago outpost that’s set to open inside the Cooper, an apartment tower at 720 S. Wells Street, according to the Tribune. The pair already operates locations in Portage Park and Lakeview.
Wicker Park: Nicaraguan brand Oro Chocolate plans to open an eponymous “chocolate cafe” at 1553 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Founder and CEO Muffadal Saylawala is a suburban Chicago native and also owns hostel company Casa Oro Group.
Naperville: Infamous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay will bring the third location of his Ramsay’s Kitchen restaurant to suburban Chicago at 39 W. Jefferson Avenue in downtown Naperville, according to the Sun-Times. The bellowing TV personality has seized upon the Chicago market in recent years: In 2021, he opened the first U.S. outpost of Gordon Ramsay Burger in River North (the space previously housed Wahlburgers, another celebrity-backed burger chain) and he plans to open a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant this year in the same neighborhood.
For a list of coming attractions from fall 2022, click here.