Al Dente Javier Perez worked his way up from dishwasher at Tony Mantuano’s Tuttaposto in 1990 to sous chef at Cibo Matto in 2009; he’s opened his own place in Old Irving Park, combining Italian, French and Mexican elements in dishes like bucatini pasta with chorizo and guajillo-marinated calamari steak. 3939 W Irving Park Rd (773-942-7771, aldentechicago.com). El: Blue to Irving Park. Bus: 53, 80. Dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $20.
Barn & Company The Hubbard Inn guys are sticking with chef Bob Zrenner for their new barbecue restaurant. But they’ve also brought in author Gary Wiviott to make sure they get the pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken and ribs right. (They required no consultation on the beer and whiskey list.) 950 W Wrightwood Ave (773-832-4000, barnandcompany.com). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Diversey. Bus: 9, 11, 73, 74. Lunch, dinner (closed Tue). Average main course: $12.
Bleeding Heart Bakery Punk-rock bakers Michelle and Vinny Garcia have moved the headquarters of their sustainable bakery/diner to West Town, where they’ll be open for 63 hours straight from 6am Friday to 9pm Sunday. 1916 W Chicago Ave (773-904-1414, thebleedingheartbakery.com). Bus: 9, 50, 66. Mon–Thu 6am–9pm, Fri 6am–Sun 9pm. Average main course: $9.
BopNgrill Korean meets American at this counter-service spot in Rogers Park, where burgers come topped with lettuce, tomato and onion—or with kimchi. 6604 N Sheridan Rd (773-654-3224, bopngrill.com). El: Red to Loyola. Bus: 136, 147, 151, 155. Lunch, dinner (closed Sun). Average main course: $8.
Burger Philosophy Toppings-wise, the place is sticking with what works—blue cheese, bacon, fried egg, etc. One way the shop sets itself apart, however, is that it grinds the meat for the burgers and freshly cuts the potatoes for the fries. 1541 W Bryn Mawr Ave (773-944-0373, burgerphilosophy.com). El: Red to Bryn Mawr. Bus: 22, 36, 50, 84. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $9.
Centro Taking over the former Cy’s Crab House space is this bar/lounge/grill, which offers a five-pound, $55 burger that’s free if you eat the whole thing. (Not to worry: There’s smaller, less expensive bar food, too.) 3819 N Ashland Ave (773-868-6900, centrochicago.com). El: Brown to Irving Park. Bus: 9. Lunch (Sat, Sun), dinner. Average main course: $10.
Chicago Bagel Authority The popular Lincoln Park bagel shop makes its move on Lakeview, where it slings bagel sandwiches until the wee hours of the weekends. 955 W Belmont Ave (773-317-5723, eatcba.com). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 8, 22, 77, 151, 156. Sun–Thu 7am–10pm; Fri, Sat 7am–midnight. Average main course: $7.
Epic Burger These thin, lacy, preservative-free burgers are now available in the West Loop, in the mini chain’s biggest location yet. 550 W Adams St (312-382-0400, epicburger.com). Bus: 124, 126, 156, 157. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $6.
FÜL Owner Zach Horwitz set out to create a casual dining spot that promotes healthy, active lifestyles—which is why he installed an on-site nutritionist here five days a week to provide suggestions on what to order. 3310 N Broadway (773-525-0240, ful2live.com). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Belmont. Bus: 8, 36, 77, 145, 146, 151. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $8.
Jam ‘n Honey Another cute breakfast-and-lunch spot opens. Though, to be fair, this one plans to add dinner in the coming months. 958 W Webster Ave (773-327-5266). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 73, 74. Breakfast, lunch. Average main course: $9.
Masa Azul Chef Alvaro Chavez’s goal is to bring American Southwest flavors to Logan Square. Partner Jason Lerner’s goal is to pair that fare with an extensive tequila list. 2901 W Diversey Ave (773-687-0300, masaazul.com). Bus: 52, 76. Metra: Blue to Logan Square. Dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $20.
Michael Jordan’s Steak House A 23-ounce rib eye. A 23-ingredient chopped salad. A 23-layer chocolate cake. Are you sensing a theme here? Hotel InterContinental, 525 N Michigan Ave (312-321-8823). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 3, 10, 26, 29, 36, 65, 125, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $35.
Morso Matt Maroni—the guy behind gaztro-wagon—serves sweetbreads, antelope and other upscale dishes at this brick and mortar, which also includes a cocktail lounge. 340 W Armitage Ave (773-880-9280, morsochicago.com). Bus: 11, 22, 36, 73, 151. Brunch (Sat, Sun), dinner (Tue–Sat). Average share plate: $19.
NYC Bagel Deli At the third Chicago location of this bagel chain, owner Corey Kaplan is dishing out not only kettle-boiled bagels, but also extra-large New York–style pizza slices. 515 N Dearborn St (312-923-9999, nycbd.com). El: Red to Grand. Bus: 22, 36, 65. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average bagel sandwich: $8.
Prasino This sustainably built, gluten free–friendly, all-day restaurant (which has two locations in the suburbs) has landed in Wicker Park. Micro-brewed kombucha-mosa, anyone? 1846 W Division St (312-878-1212, prasino.com). El: Blue to Division. Bus: 50, 56, 70. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $21.
25 Degrees Beer and burgers? Not at this California import. Here, the burgers are paired with a list of 15 wines by the glass. 736 N Clark St (312-943-9700, 25degreesrestaurant.com). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 11, 22, 66. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $12.
Waffles Red velvet waffles! Cheddar-and-short-rib waffles! Mexican chocolate delight waffles! We’ll give you one guess what food this South Loop spot exclusively serves. 14 S Michigan Ave (312-854-8577, waffleschicago.com). El: Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Madison. Bus: 3, 4, 26, 56, 145, 147. Breakfast, lunch. Average main course: $10.