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A table full of dishes with food from Ramova.
Pork chop suey, duck fat-infused corn dogs and more are served at Ramova Grill.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Hottest New Restaurants in Chicago, February 2024

Say hello to pork chop suey

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Pork chop suey, duck fat-infused corn dogs and more are served at Ramova Grill.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Chicago — we’re in a leap year, so the city gets an extra day of February antics. For cynics, that might feel like we’re an extra day away from spring, but don’t be one of those fools. A beautiful way to avoid wintertime blues is to enjoy a great meal at a great, new restaurant. With that in mind, welcome to the Eater Chicago Heatmap for February.

The Heatmap features new restaurants and old favorites creating a new buzz. Whereas the Eater 38 is a collection of can’t-miss stalwarts and bucket-list entries, the Heatmap is about the now — focused on recent openings that have the city’s diners talking.

The February update includes four updates: a reskinned hot dog stand, a renovated South Side icon, a tasting menu with a late-night fine dining taco menu, and a hip Lincoln Park steakhouse.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Boonie's Filipino Restaurant

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Joe Fontelera has made it. The accomplished chef who once helmed the kitchen at Michelin-starred sushi station Arami has opened his own restaurant with a ton of personal meaning. Boonie’s is a Filipino American restaurant in the Lincoln Square area where Fontelera’s family first moved to after arriving in America. Find Fil-Am favorites from lumpia to loganissa executed with a modern edge and with a ton of joy. It’s a casual spot and poised to join Kasama as Chicago’s next great Filipino spot. For August, Boonie has added weekend lunch service.

A round blue and white plate holds a cooked Chinese eggplant.
Boonie’s Filipino restaurant is a hit.
Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago

Daisies

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Daisies is a pasta shop and Midwestern comfort restaurant that endeared itself to the Logan Square community in its tinier original iteration. In April, the operations moved a few blocks southeast, still along Milwaukee Avenue, to a gorgeous and roomier space. The kitchen has more amenities to serve a large menu of pasta (a giant seasonal ravioli is impressive; right now it’s stuffed with ramps) and more composed dishes. There are also delicious pastries and coffee (La Colombe’s roastery is just next-door). Daisies 2.0 is one of the hottest reservations in town.

Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Thattu is a restaurant that bridges relationships. It’s the story of its owners, Margaret Pak (a Korean American) and Vinod Kalathil (who’s from Kerala, India). Pak is charged with translating recipes from Kalathil’s mother, and the result is a humble, yet bold, South Indian restaurant, the likes the city has been waiting a long time to enjoy. The restaurant debuted with lunch and spicy chicken sandwiches and recently unveiled dinner service with a decadent pork chop inside a newly built-out space in Avondale.

A smattering of dishes from Thattu. Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago

Warlord

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Warlord is a force of nature in Logan Square, a small and cleverly designed space that doesn’t take any reservations. Most items — with the notable exception of raw seafood (dry-aged on-site) —touches the grill. The menu changes daily. Sometimes the chefs will serve fish collar or a ribeye steak. On other days scallops may star. The menu’s volatility is an allure, and the cocktail bar in the back is serving up well-crafted and balance drinks. Warlord’s kitchen is open until 1 a.m. which makes it a beloved space for restaurant workers needing a late-night spot. A patio is also on its way.

Lilac Tiger

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Wazwan, a top Indian street food spot, underwent light renovations after obtaining a liquor license and the space is now called Lilac Tiger. Along with Wazwan’s burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, there are new dishes like duck fried rice and spicy chicken nuggets. It’s a chill spot for a bite and drink with fun cocktails. The owner of Arami and chef behind Kimski have partnered on the rebrand along with chef Zubair Mohajir, who continues his tasting menu service at the coach house behind the restaurant.

James Beard Award-winning chefs and spouses Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (Parachute) have made borscht out of bad news with the debut of Anelya, their new Ukrainian restaurant in Avondale. A replacement for Wherewithall, which closed in May due to a sewer collapse and accumulated pandemic-era obstacles, Anelya gives Clark a chance to explore his Ukrainian American culinary heritage with a menu of chubby varenyky (saffron, potato, jowl bacon), biber dolmas, and bowls of borscht made with smoked pears, a style drawn from Poltava, a city in central Ukraine. Eastern European wines dominate the glass and bottle list (along with a few submissions from Greece) and the kitchen staff is made up almost entirely of Ukrainian refugees.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

John's Food and Wine

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John’s Food & Wine comes from a pair of alums of New York’s Gramercy Tavern, a beloved restaurant known of honest seasonal cooking without too much flash. It’s a family-friendly spot that aims to be “where everybody knows your name.” John’s is currently open for lunch and dinner with small plates like a simple and tasty celery and apple salad, plus chicken liver mousse. The meatballs are crowd pleasers, and so is the fresh pasta. The real surprised is the pulled pork sandwich, which could be one of the best sandwiches in town. It melds Carolina barbecue with a Thai-style slaw and fresh herbs. This isn’t a shareable plate, be greedy and get your own.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Mano Modern Cafe

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After finding success in Cleveland, a group of Filipino Americans brought their operation to West Town, serving unique coffees, Fil-Am sandwiches, and rice bowls. Mano aims to demonstrate the variety of Filipino food, kind of a supercharged Filipino version of Panera. Look for intriguing breakfast sandwiches with SPAM and eggs, and more. There are plans for dinner pop-ups in the future.

A rice bowl Mano Modern Cafe

Akahoshi Ramen

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Akahoshi Ramen is the toughest table in Chicago right now, as a humble soup spot is booked up for the month. The Logan Square restaurant is from a local who traveled to Japan. He became obsessed with recreating the bowls he tried overseas, mastering techniques and familiarizing himself with a variety of techniques. Over on Reddit, he assumed the identity of Ramen_Lord and began throwing pop-ups across the city, learning and building a fanbase. Akahoshi has been open for a few short weeks and is already being hailed for its unique offerings, shattering the perception of what customers expect out of a midwestern Japanese restaurant.

'atta girl

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The chef behind Cafe Marie-Jeanne wasn’t planning to make a comeback. Their beloved restaurant closed during the pandemic, and they moved to Springfield, Missouri. But after taking a bartending job at Table, Donkey & Stick, they found their grove in Chicago. The result is Atta Girl, the reborn CMJ, a collaboration with TDS. However, since opening, Bunny, the former Cafe Marie-Jeanne chef, has departed the operation, leaving it in good hands. There’s brunch, a late-night happy hour (patrons can order the famous CMJ burger), and all the classics that made CMJ a success. There’s also a deep wine list and more cocktails as they’ve taken over the former Dos Urban Cantina. 

Several food items from Atta Girl. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Manchamanteles

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Geno Bahena, a veteran Chicago chef and mole master behind numerous upscale Mexican restaurants in Chicago, has done it again with his latest project in Bucktown. Manchamanteles, named for a Oaxacan style of mole that translates to English as “tablecloth stainer,” can seat up to 200 in its huge and brightly colored dining room. There’s a custom wood-fired grill for dishes like borrego en mole negro and chuleta de puerco, and a bar with enormous tequila cocktails.

A large, long restaurant dining room decorated with colorful Mexican streamers.
Chef Geno Bahena is back in Bucktown.
Manchamanteles

Maxwells Trading

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Erling Wu-Bower’s return has already earned acclaim in the West Loop where the chef and partner Josh Tilden have treated customers to a creative menu with great ambition and ambience. Music plays a big part of Maxwells Trading — there’s even a pop-up record shop in front. This comfy spot is a tribute to immigrant neighborhoods, with a family-style menu that crosses Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan. The restaurant will feel different in the spring and summer as a rooftop garden will supply ingredients. Right now, it’s the perfect antidote to the throng for restaurants along Randolph Street, where hospitality sometimes plays second fiddle to hype.

Clay pot rice Sandy Noto/Eater Chicago

Bonyeon

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The owners of Omakase Yume, a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant, are it again, presenting a Korean-style steakhouse where diners can enjoy a special seven-course meal featuring several cuts of beef. Not all of the cuts at Bonyeon will be familiar, and that mystery is part of the allure. This intimate 12-seat dining experience is different from a traditional Chicago steakhouse, and perhaps a precursor to the arrival of more Asian-inspired steakhouses in the city.

A chef holds a small plate of grilled beef. Jeff Marini/Bonyeon

Soul Prime

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Soul Prime opened in May 2023, inside a Lincoln Park restaurant space that’s been a bit of a revolving door near the corner of Halsted and Armitage. But Shonya “Chef Royce” Williams has brought stability to the space. The Black-owned restaurant — a rarity in the North Side neighborhood — caught the attention of TikTok food critic Keith Lee. The Vegas-based Lee called Soul Prime, known for short rib, fried and baked chicken, and more, posted a glowing review of the restaurant. They’ve been packed since Lee’s videos went viral.

Soul Prime opened in May.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Ramova Grill

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The Ramova Grill closed 12 years ago, an all-day diner next to the decades’ old Ramova Theater in Bridgeport. The theater has reopened with help from celeb owners Quincy Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and Chance the Rapper. The food is handled by the Duck Inn’s Kevin Hickey, and he’s got a lunch and dinner menu for chili, duck-infused corn dogs, and pizza in a cup (inspired by Steve Martin’s The Jerk). Other Half Brewery has also set up shop and there’s fantastic cocktails from the Duck Inn’s Brandon Phillips.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Butcher and the Bear

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Neighborhood steakhouses give beef lovers an option away from the stoic environment of a big-name downtown steakhouse. Butcher and the Bear brings a club element to the genre, giving Lincoln Park a sleek spot with prime meats, good beats, and great eats.

Modern Relish

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Duk’s Red Hots was once a mini-chain of hot dog stands around Chicago that had survived a threat of a lawsuit from Disney back when the stand was called Donald Duk’s. The chain closed all but one location, and in December, that one also shuttered after ownership sold to a new party interested in sprucing up the spot with digital signage. They trimmed the fried fish and shrimp off the menu at Modern Relish. They’re also waiting for a liquor license for beer and wine sales. The deep-fried dogs remain.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Cariño

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It’s been a long time coming from Norman Fenton, a Detroit native who worked at Schwa and Brass Heart, a fine dining restaurant with a tasting menu in Uptown. That restaurant closed allowing Fenton to tap into his travels in Mexico and Central America. With that, and new ownership, he launched Cariño, where he’s having fun with masa and other ingredients used south of the border, placing them in daring new presentations. There’s also a late-night taco omakase that’s a little bit less expensive, but Fenton aims to pummel guests with tacos in different ways.

Carino/Kelly Sandros

Boonie's Filipino Restaurant

Joe Fontelera has made it. The accomplished chef who once helmed the kitchen at Michelin-starred sushi station Arami has opened his own restaurant with a ton of personal meaning. Boonie’s is a Filipino American restaurant in the Lincoln Square area where Fontelera’s family first moved to after arriving in America. Find Fil-Am favorites from lumpia to loganissa executed with a modern edge and with a ton of joy. It’s a casual spot and poised to join Kasama as Chicago’s next great Filipino spot. For August, Boonie has added weekend lunch service.

A round blue and white plate holds a cooked Chinese eggplant.
Boonie’s Filipino restaurant is a hit.
Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago

Daisies

Daisies is a pasta shop and Midwestern comfort restaurant that endeared itself to the Logan Square community in its tinier original iteration. In April, the operations moved a few blocks southeast, still along Milwaukee Avenue, to a gorgeous and roomier space. The kitchen has more amenities to serve a large menu of pasta (a giant seasonal ravioli is impressive; right now it’s stuffed with ramps) and more composed dishes. There are also delicious pastries and coffee (La Colombe’s roastery is just next-door). Daisies 2.0 is one of the hottest reservations in town.

Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Thattu

Thattu is a restaurant that bridges relationships. It’s the story of its owners, Margaret Pak (a Korean American) and Vinod Kalathil (who’s from Kerala, India). Pak is charged with translating recipes from Kalathil’s mother, and the result is a humble, yet bold, South Indian restaurant, the likes the city has been waiting a long time to enjoy. The restaurant debuted with lunch and spicy chicken sandwiches and recently unveiled dinner service with a decadent pork chop inside a newly built-out space in Avondale.

A smattering of dishes from Thattu. Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago

Warlord

Warlord is a force of nature in Logan Square, a small and cleverly designed space that doesn’t take any reservations. Most items — with the notable exception of raw seafood (dry-aged on-site) —touches the grill. The menu changes daily. Sometimes the chefs will serve fish collar or a ribeye steak. On other days scallops may star. The menu’s volatility is an allure, and the cocktail bar in the back is serving up well-crafted and balance drinks. Warlord’s kitchen is open until 1 a.m. which makes it a beloved space for restaurant workers needing a late-night spot. A patio is also on its way.

Lilac Tiger

Wazwan, a top Indian street food spot, underwent light renovations after obtaining a liquor license and the space is now called Lilac Tiger. Along with Wazwan’s burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, there are new dishes like duck fried rice and spicy chicken nuggets. It’s a chill spot for a bite and drink with fun cocktails. The owner of Arami and chef behind Kimski have partnered on the rebrand along with chef Zubair Mohajir, who continues his tasting menu service at the coach house behind the restaurant.

Anelya

James Beard Award-winning chefs and spouses Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (Parachute) have made borscht out of bad news with the debut of Anelya, their new Ukrainian restaurant in Avondale. A replacement for Wherewithall, which closed in May due to a sewer collapse and accumulated pandemic-era obstacles, Anelya gives Clark a chance to explore his Ukrainian American culinary heritage with a menu of chubby varenyky (saffron, potato, jowl bacon), biber dolmas, and bowls of borscht made with smoked pears, a style drawn from Poltava, a city in central Ukraine. Eastern European wines dominate the glass and bottle list (along with a few submissions from Greece) and the kitchen staff is made up almost entirely of Ukrainian refugees.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

John's Food and Wine

John’s Food & Wine comes from a pair of alums of New York’s Gramercy Tavern, a beloved restaurant known of honest seasonal cooking without too much flash. It’s a family-friendly spot that aims to be “where everybody knows your name.” John’s is currently open for lunch and dinner with small plates like a simple and tasty celery and apple salad, plus chicken liver mousse. The meatballs are crowd pleasers, and so is the fresh pasta. The real surprised is the pulled pork sandwich, which could be one of the best sandwiches in town. It melds Carolina barbecue with a Thai-style slaw and fresh herbs. This isn’t a shareable plate, be greedy and get your own.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Mano Modern Cafe

After finding success in Cleveland, a group of Filipino Americans brought their operation to West Town, serving unique coffees, Fil-Am sandwiches, and rice bowls. Mano aims to demonstrate the variety of Filipino food, kind of a supercharged Filipino version of Panera. Look for intriguing breakfast sandwiches with SPAM and eggs, and more. There are plans for dinner pop-ups in the future.

A rice bowl Mano Modern Cafe

Akahoshi Ramen

Akahoshi Ramen is the toughest table in Chicago right now, as a humble soup spot is booked up for the month. The Logan Square restaurant is from a local who traveled to Japan. He became obsessed with recreating the bowls he tried overseas, mastering techniques and familiarizing himself with a variety of techniques. Over on Reddit, he assumed the identity of Ramen_Lord and began throwing pop-ups across the city, learning and building a fanbase. Akahoshi has been open for a few short weeks and is already being hailed for its unique offerings, shattering the perception of what customers expect out of a midwestern Japanese restaurant.

'atta girl

The chef behind Cafe Marie-Jeanne wasn’t planning to make a comeback. Their beloved restaurant closed during the pandemic, and they moved to Springfield, Missouri. But after taking a bartending job at Table, Donkey & Stick, they found their grove in Chicago. The result is Atta Girl, the reborn CMJ, a collaboration with TDS. However, since opening, Bunny, the former Cafe Marie-Jeanne chef, has departed the operation, leaving it in good hands. There’s brunch, a late-night happy hour (patrons can order the famous CMJ burger), and all the classics that made CMJ a success. There’s also a deep wine list and more cocktails as they’ve taken over the former Dos Urban Cantina. 

Several food items from Atta Girl. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Manchamanteles

Geno Bahena, a veteran Chicago chef and mole master behind numerous upscale Mexican restaurants in Chicago, has done it again with his latest project in Bucktown. Manchamanteles, named for a Oaxacan style of mole that translates to English as “tablecloth stainer,” can seat up to 200 in its huge and brightly colored dining room. There’s a custom wood-fired grill for dishes like borrego en mole negro and chuleta de puerco, and a bar with enormous tequila cocktails.

A large, long restaurant dining room decorated with colorful Mexican streamers.
Chef Geno Bahena is back in Bucktown.
Manchamanteles

Maxwells Trading

Erling Wu-Bower’s return has already earned acclaim in the West Loop where the chef and partner Josh Tilden have treated customers to a creative menu with great ambition and ambience. Music plays a big part of Maxwells Trading — there’s even a pop-up record shop in front. This comfy spot is a tribute to immigrant neighborhoods, with a family-style menu that crosses Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan. The restaurant will feel different in the spring and summer as a rooftop garden will supply ingredients. Right now, it’s the perfect antidote to the throng for restaurants along Randolph Street, where hospitality sometimes plays second fiddle to hype.

Clay pot rice Sandy Noto/Eater Chicago

Bonyeon

The owners of Omakase Yume, a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant, are it again, presenting a Korean-style steakhouse where diners can enjoy a special seven-course meal featuring several cuts of beef. Not all of the cuts at Bonyeon will be familiar, and that mystery is part of the allure. This intimate 12-seat dining experience is different from a traditional Chicago steakhouse, and perhaps a precursor to the arrival of more Asian-inspired steakhouses in the city.

A chef holds a small plate of grilled beef. Jeff Marini/Bonyeon

Soul Prime

Soul Prime opened in May 2023, inside a Lincoln Park restaurant space that’s been a bit of a revolving door near the corner of Halsted and Armitage. But Shonya “Chef Royce” Williams has brought stability to the space. The Black-owned restaurant — a rarity in the North Side neighborhood — caught the attention of TikTok food critic Keith Lee. The Vegas-based Lee called Soul Prime, known for short rib, fried and baked chicken, and more, posted a glowing review of the restaurant. They’ve been packed since Lee’s videos went viral.

Soul Prime opened in May.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Ramova Grill

The Ramova Grill closed 12 years ago, an all-day diner next to the decades’ old Ramova Theater in Bridgeport. The theater has reopened with help from celeb owners Quincy Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and Chance the Rapper. The food is handled by the Duck Inn’s Kevin Hickey, and he’s got a lunch and dinner menu for chili, duck-infused corn dogs, and pizza in a cup (inspired by Steve Martin’s The Jerk). Other Half Brewery has also set up shop and there’s fantastic cocktails from the Duck Inn’s Brandon Phillips.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Related Maps

Butcher and the Bear

Neighborhood steakhouses give beef lovers an option away from the stoic environment of a big-name downtown steakhouse. Butcher and the Bear brings a club element to the genre, giving Lincoln Park a sleek spot with prime meats, good beats, and great eats.

Modern Relish

Duk’s Red Hots was once a mini-chain of hot dog stands around Chicago that had survived a threat of a lawsuit from Disney back when the stand was called Donald Duk’s. The chain closed all but one location, and in December, that one also shuttered after ownership sold to a new party interested in sprucing up the spot with digital signage. They trimmed the fried fish and shrimp off the menu at Modern Relish. They’re also waiting for a liquor license for beer and wine sales. The deep-fried dogs remain.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Cariño

It’s been a long time coming from Norman Fenton, a Detroit native who worked at Schwa and Brass Heart, a fine dining restaurant with a tasting menu in Uptown. That restaurant closed allowing Fenton to tap into his travels in Mexico and Central America. With that, and new ownership, he launched Cariño, where he’s having fun with masa and other ingredients used south of the border, placing them in daring new presentations. There’s also a late-night taco omakase that’s a little bit less expensive, but Fenton aims to pummel guests with tacos in different ways.

Carino/Kelly Sandros

Related Maps