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Alla Vita Italian dishes
Photograph: Galdones Photography

The 21 best new restaurants in Chicago right now

As fall arrives, so does another group of new restaurants, including Italian, Spanish and plant-based options.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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Summer is nearly over and Chicago's chefs are providing plenty of new options as we ease into fall in Chicago. The best new restaurants in Chicago include Lee Wolen's new Italian restaurant in the West Loop and the first of five new Chicago concepts from chef José Andrés. As you begin to plan your autumn dining schedule, we want to help you track down some fresh spots to sample. That's why we've assembled a list of the best new restaurants in Chicago that have opened their doors in recent months. Don't forget to call ahead for reservations, bring along a mask and tip generously as you explore these fresh options.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Best new restaurants in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

The latest project from the Boka Group and Chef Lee Wolen (Boka) takes over the former home of Bellemore, serving Italian dishes in an ornate space where diners sit under an arched pergola draped in greenery or flowing sheets of fabric that hang from the ceiling. You'll find crispy arancini, salads, homemade pastas, pizzas, meats and veggies on the menu—including Wolen's signature chicken parmigiana, topped with fire roasted tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella. Lesser known Italian and West Coast Italian wineries are the focus of Alla Vita's bottle list—and there are cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for those who don't need a glass of red or white with their meal. Don't forget to save room for a slice of tiramisu!

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

Inspired by the mission-driven values of chef Erick Williams and his Hyde Park institution Virtue, former Next chef Jenner Tomaska and wife Katrina Bravo are setting their fine dining restaurant on a similar path. You'll find a variety of seasonal ingredients served in custom dishware on the evolving tasting menu at Esmé, where tickets start at $200 for a multi-course meal. Outside of the usual menu, Tomaska also collaborates with local artists on special dinners inspired by their work, donating a portion of the proceeds to a charitable organization. Plus, the entire beverage program (from cocktails to the wine list) highlights women and BIPOC producers, allowing diners to sip something they likely haven't sampled before. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • River North

The first of five concepts that acclaimed chef José Andrés plans to launch in Chicago, Jaleo is much like past iterations in Washington D.C., Orlando and Las Vegas, boating a menu inspired by the traditional dishes of Andrés's childhood. You can order tapas, paellas, sangrias and Spanish wines à la carte, or choose from two tasting menus focused around contemproary and traditional tapas. You can't go wrong with an order of head-on shrimp prepared with garlic and olive oil or a paella made with a selection of seasonal vegetables—and keep an eye out for the basement speakeasy (called Pigtail) that's scheduled to open in the coming months.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 2 of 4

By day, Bocadillo Market is a stylish place to swing by for a cup of coffee, browse a small selection of Spanish olive oils and ingredients or sample the restaurant's namesake dish: the bocadillo (a type of Spanish sandwich). But chef James Martin's family-style dinner menu is where the concept truly shines. Much like the dishes you'd find at a more conventional tapas restaurant, nearly everything on the menu is meant to be shared—including olives, clams and Iberico pork with. If you have the time to linger in the airy dining room or on the cozy patio, go ahead and order the paella, which includes a generous portion of squid ink-covered rice, topped with seared tuna and clams.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

Walking into Lardon—a meat- and cheese-centric cafe off the California Blue Line stop—is a bit like entering an amalgamation of every little bistro you’ve ever seen on the European episodes of Parts Unknown. Of course, most European bistros aren’t spinning records, nor do they serve Wisconsin-made hunks of gouda (that's just how you know you're in Logan Square). The all-day concept serves Metropolis coffee and baked goods from Aya Pastry in the morning, sandwiches for lunch and charcuterie and drinks in the evening, plus a selection of dinner entrees on weekends. We recommend grabbing a table in the evening for a meat-and-cheese board—full of glistening Bresaola, salami, honeycomb, smears of house-made preserves, rosemary-flecked truffled lardo and Midwestern cheeses. Split between two people, the chef board is nearly enough to function as a full meal; split between three to four, it’ll tide you over between after-work drinks and an at-home dinner.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

Earlier this year, Amaru chef Rodolfo Cuadros transformed his pandemic-era ghost kitchen—which served health-conscious, slightly upscale vegan dishes out of Amaru’s Bucktown space—into this brick-and-mortar, completely plant-based (and gluten-free) restaurant in Wicker Park, where you’ll find everything from charcuterie boards made with cultured almond “cheese” to cashew e pepe, a novel dish that coats cold kelp noodles in a luxurious cashew cream. The restaurant is BYOB for now, so bring a bottle of wine until the owners roll out their planned cocktail menu.

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  • Restaurants
  • Jamaican
  • River West/West Town
  • price 1 of 4

An offshoot of a Caribbean grocery store that was founded in Buffalo, New York, this Wicker Park restaurant brings Jamaican flavors to the Polish Triangle. The specialty here is the Jamaican Patty, which wrap fillings like beef, chicken and spinach in a flaky pastry crust. They work best as an appetizer or a snack—if you really want to fill up here, you need to order Pop Style Poutine, Rasta Pasta or a roti wrap topped with jerk chicken, jerk steak, jerk salmon or jerk jack fruit (everything is jerked here). The counter service spot also serves a selection of Jamaican-style juices, which can all be augmented with rum, CBD oil or Irish cream. Naturally, you can also get a Red Stripe here.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Wrigleyville
  • price 1 of 4

Building off of his popular Diver concept in River North, restauranteur Adolfo Garcia brings a bit of Tulum of Wrigleyville in the form of Diver at the Park. There are plenty of places to sit down for a meal or a drink in this expansive, tropical-themed space, including indoor seating decorating with hanging plants, a patio with fire pits and a tree sculpture, plus a basement speakeasy (called Dot) that offers dim lighting and a cocktail menu. The menu is made up of casual Mexican dishes, including fish tacos, street corn elote quesadillas and a surf 'n turf burrito made with grilled steak and shrimp. Stop in to grab a bite before the game or to sit back and sip a margarita during the off-season.

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Edgewater
  • price 1 of 4

The latest Chicago location of the quickly-growing Korean fried chicken chain, bb.q Chicken carries a name that is a bit of a misnomer. Just like the location in Chinatown, the Edgewater outpost of bb.q Chicken specializes in crispy poultry served with a variety of sauces, from honey garlic to spicy gangnam style. You can supplement your meal with fried rice cakes and fish cakes, or an order of pickled radish and onion rings. And just like every other fried chicken joint, bb.q Chicken has entered the chicken sandwich wars—just ask for the original or spicy original sandwich, served on a brioche bun with spicy mayo.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Named for both of his grandmothers and combining elements of Italian and Croatian cooking, Top Chef winner Joe Flamm's Rose Mary brings seasonal dishes to a cozy Fulton Market space lined with hanging plants. Flamm describes the menu as "Adriatic drinking food," packed with heart dishes like Gnocchi with beef cheek pašticada (a wine-soaking process) and pork ribs served with a cabbage and yogurt relish. The wine list focuses on organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed options while the cocktail menu shows off tipples made with underutilized (on this side of the ocean, at least) Eastern European spirits.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • West Loop

Executive Chef Guillermo Reyes (formerly of Mi Tocaya Antojeria) oversees this Oaxacan-inspired cantina, cooking Mexican cuisine with the seasonal produce of the Midwest. Alongside standard dishes like cochinita pibil tacos, guacamole and elotes, you'll find less conventional options like a king crab chile relleno and duck served with mole negro. Stick around after dinner to sample drinks from Chikatana's agave-focused cocktail program, which focuses on the lesser-known agave spirits raicilla and sotol.

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Logan Square

You may recognize chef Doug Psaltis as the "P" in RPM (Steak, Italian, Seafood, etc.), the glitzy collection of restaurants operated by Lettuce Entertain You. After leaving the hospitality group in 2019, Psaltis is striking out on his own with his first solo project: Andros Taverna, a contemporary Greek restaurant in the heart of Logan Square. Working alongside his wife and pastry chef, Hsing Chen, Psaltis cranks out a lineup of fresh, feel-good fare that's rife with vegetables, seafood and addictive dips.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Armour Square

Kenny Yang of Strings Ramen Shops has taken the reins at this classic Chinatown restaurant, renovating the space and adding neon accents and artwork inspired by the streets and markets of 1950s Hong Kong. Spanning two stories, Ken Kee Restaurant diners can order from a traditional menu packed with familiar Chinese dishes or a new Noodle Cart menu, served out of a dedicated kitchen. You can build your own noodle bowl, choosing from four varieties of broth and eight types of noodles, and then top it with all sorts of proteins and vegetables.

  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Lincoln Park

Touting locations in San Francisco and New York City, Verve Wine's first Midwest outpost is nestled inside Lincoln Common, a luxury apartment complex and retail destination in Lincoln Park. In addition to a shop packed with bottles and helpfulk somms, you'll also find an in-house wine bar, with a menu overseen by Roister vet Ryan Epp. Pair a carefully-curated list of pours with dishes like oysters, burrata, bone marrow and mussels—and don't be afraid to ask for some suggestions if you're not sure if you should pair your meal with a Syrah or a Gruner.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Loop

A contemporary French brasserie set within the Pendry Chicago hotel (inside the famed Carbide & Carbon building), Venteux is the latest project from former Temporis chef Donald Young, who earned his first Michelin star at the age of 28. Set in a cozy, wood-paneled space, the kitchen turns out traditional French delicacies such as steak frites and French onion soup alongside less conventional options like an omelette topped with trout roe. During the day, a cafe with 40-foot windows looking out on Michigan Avenue serves a smaller menu of elevated breakfast and lunch offerings (care for a midday seafood tower?) to hotel guests and passersby.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • River West/West Town

Taking over the former home of Bar Biscay in West Town, Three House brings affordable dinner, lunch, breakfast and coffee options to a stretch of Chicago Avenue. You'll find fries, empanadas and coffee on the menu for just $3.33 (a reference to the restaurant's name) and plenty of other intriguing dishes that similarly won't break the bank. Swing by in the morning to snag avocado toast or a fried chicken biscuit smothered with chorizo gravy, then come back at lunch to devour a smash burger or a fried-chicken sandwich.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • North Center

Robert et Fils sends us time-traveling into the depths of chef-owner Rob Shaner's childhood, when his late father's job took the family to Paris when Shaner was a teenager. In addition to falling in love with the food and culture, father and son (Bob and Rob) dropped their American names in favor of the more French-sounding Robert. The name of this North Center restaurant translates to "Robert and son," a heartfelt homage Shaner has been planning for years. Paying tribute to their time in Paris, the tasting menu infuses old-school French gastronomy and American playfulness—with a hit of umami flavors at every turn.

  • Restaurants
  • Hot dogs
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 1 of 4

Founded by local musician Bobby Morelli and his daughter Brooklyn, the Hot Dog Box operates out of a shipping container in the Boxville Marketplace, located right off the Green Line in Bronzeville. Following in the footsteps of creative encased meats purveyors like Hot Doug's and Chicago's Dog House, the father-and-daughter duo is known for it's speciality sausages, such as a filet mignon steak dog covered in bourbon BBQ sauce and a pickle mignon steak paired with truffle peanut butter sauce. Of course, there's also an extremely solid standard Chicago-style dog on offer if you're not feeling adventerous.

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  • Restaurants
  • Lincoln Park

An ambassador for Peranakan cuisine in Chicago, Kapitan offers plenty to love (and discover) in Lincoln Park. The lengthy menu spans breakfast, lunch and dinner with Malaysian favorites from chef Khoon Lew. Start the day with lo mai gai, a dim sum dish that finds sticky rice stuffed inside steamed lotus leaves. For dinner, it's all about the sambal shrimp, which is cooked in a spicy house sauce and served with asparagus and okra. But as soon as you see the kuih—tiny, bite-sized sweets made fresh daily—you'll gladly save room for dessert.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • West Loop

Dealing in handmade chocolates and buttery pastries, Good Ambler keeps the West Loop sugared up from morning until early evening. The exceptionally cozy space is anchored by a sprawling pastry case stocked with edible eye candy, including croissants, tarts, babka, muffins, cookies and candy bars—all crafted by pastry chef Kevin McCormick (Per Se) in collaboration with Mondelēz International (which happens to be headquartered in the same building). A menu of coffee and tea drinks keeps you from slipping into an inevitable sugar coma.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Lake View

Determined to emulate the feeling of sitting down at your grandmother's table, Dear Margaret is a French-Canadian eatery that plays with Midwestern ingredients. Owner Lacey Irby and executive chef Ryan Brosseau achieve this by imbuing their menu with an abundance of comfort and care, resulting in produce-packed salads, hearty mains and classic, feel-good desserts. Who's Maraget? Brosseau's mémé, or grandmother, the renowned preservationist and family cook who inspires the restaurant's ethos.

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