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Bambola's interior.
Photograph: Courtesy of Bonhomme Hospitality

The 15 best new restaurants in Chicago right now

The hottest openings include a Cambodian kitchen, a Chinatown bar and and the return of several Chicago favorites.

Jeffy Mai
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Jeffy Mai
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You can never have too much of a good thing, which is why new restaurants are sprouting up every day all around Chicago. Trying to visit them all would be impossible, though, so we’re here to help by highlighting the hottest openings in recent months. The following places include Obelix, a modern bistro from the people behind one of the best French spots in town, and Khmai, a Rogers Park kitchen specializing in the cuisine of Cambodia. If you want to wet your whistle, head to Alpana Singh’s eponymous restaurant for an extensive collection of wine or Nine Bar, a cocktail bar tucked away behind a Chinatown restaurant. Whatever you decide on, don’t dawdle because reservations are going fast at the best new restaurants in Chicago right now.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Best new restaurants in Chicago

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Armour Square
  • price 2 of 4

Chinatown is home to an incredible assortment of restaurants but until this summer, a cocktail bar was missing from the equation. Nine Bar owners Lily Wang and Joe Briglio have finally given the neighborhood a drinking oasis with this moody, Blade Runner-esque lounge hidden away behind Moon Palace Express. Drop in for Asian-inspired old fashioneds and potent concoctions like the Paradise Lost, made with mango brandy, cachaça, ube, pineapple and Thai coconut milk. There’s also a small menu of snacks, headlined by the terrific McKatsu—breaded pork cutlet—sandwich.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

The team responsible for Le Bouchon have another French hit on their hands with this modern bistro in River North. Taking over the former home of Entente, Obelix offers reliable classics, such as French onion soup and escargots a la bourguignon, as well as non-traditional creations like a seared foie gras taco. Duck also has an entire section on the menu so you know the kitchen is serious about it. In particular, the 10-day dry-aged duck breast with figs and caramelized sunchoke puree is pure bliss.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Bonhomme Hospitality, the company behind hotpots like Beatnik and Porto, have unveiled another enchanting concept. This time the attention is on the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that linked China and the Far East with Europe and the Middle East for roughly 1,500 years. Bambola pays respect to that storied history with intriguing dishes including wok-fried risotto with eggplant mualle and pomegranate molasses; banana leaf branzino; and lobster spaghetti flambéed tableside in a wheel of Parmesan. Similar to Bonhomme’s other projects, the design catches eyes and blends modern furnishings with rare antiques like a Chinese courtyard entrance.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

To the joy of many, one of Chicago’s best restaurants has made a triumphant return. Parachute, the acclaimed Korean American spot from husband-wife Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, is welcoming guests back into its dining room for the first time since the pandemic began. The menu has been pared down a bit (we’re mourning the loss of the bing bread) but is still impressive nonetheless. Start with the seafood pancake, served with onion-chili dipping sauce, before moving onto the main event—bossam. This Korean classic provides pork belly and collar, kimchi and cabbage to make wraps with, and is accompanied by raw oysters to slurp up.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Cambodian
  • Evanston
  • price 2 of 4

While there are plenty of options for almost every type of cuisine in Chicago, Cambodian food remains a rarity. That’s why this Rogers Park spot is a much-welcomed addition to the local scene. Chef Mona Sang and her mother Sarom Sieng are educating diners on the bold, rich flavors of their Southeast Asian country and treating them to dishes they won’t find anywhere else. Our favorites include beef skewers marinated in lemongrass, Khmer spices and chili peppers; short ribs served with funky fish sauce; and the Cambodian hot pot loaded with veggies, meats, seafood and rice noodles.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Rush & Division
  • price 2 of 4

Alpana Singh has added another bullet point to her already sterling resume. You’ll catch the prolific sommelier and former Check, Please! host chatting up guests at her eponymous restaurant, which is a striking space full of fun touches such as jungle print wallpaper, hanging greens and walls devoted to artwork of famous women. The curated wine list is predictably extensive, with a bottle for every palate and price point, and paired with “wine-inspired cuisine” that Singh also developed.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Upscale Mediterranean cuisine is having a moment in Chicago. One of the latest to join the fray is Nisos, a bright and airy restaurant that evokes the feel of the Greek isles. Chef Avgeria Stapaki, plucked straight from Mykonos, showcases the flavors of her home country using fresh ingredients flown in from overseas multiple times a week. Seafood is the star and guests can take a look at a fish display before choosing an option and style of preparation.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

Mini Mott, the burger spin-off of Mott Street, closed to reconcept over the summer. The Logan Square spot came back as a full-service eatery that reflects the upbringing of its second-generation owners. Yes, the terrific burger is still on the menu in all its glory, but so are other memorable Asian American-influenced plates. Try the pickled shrimp—packing heat via Korean chili flakes—or crispy katsu chicken in house-made bulldog sauce. Even staples like steak frites are a breath of fresh air as the beef is marinated in Korean barbecue spices.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Avondale

Farm-to-table favorite Eden closed its doors in the West Loop shortly after the start of the pandemic but was recently reborn in Avondale. The focus remains on highlighting local and seasonal ingredients, some of which are now cultivated in an on-site greenhouse. The restaurant has also expanded its hours of operation so you can stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner to try dishes driven by a wood-burning oven.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Grand Boulevard
  • price 2 of 4

This wine-focused restaurant has been a boon for Bronzeville and brought upscale dining to the area. Though the wine isn’t produced here, you can expect a robust selection of pours by the glass plus exciting cocktails like an old fashioned mixed with sweet potato syrup. For sustenance, we suggest an order of the finely-sliced sweet potato ribbons, served with crème fraiche, and the watermelon steak—a dazzling slice of fruit that’s cured, smoked and seared. Those who want something less fancy can opt for the solid wagyu burger topped with Comté cheese. Weekly live music and a revolving art collection featuring local artists round out the experience.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Wicker Park
  • price 1 of 4

Mindy Segal broke a lot of hearts when she closed her popular Bucktown restaurant Hot Chocolate. The pastry queen is now back with a new bakery just a couple of blocks away. Line up bright and early (seriously, items sell out quickly) for a host of sweets and baked goods, ranging from cinnamon rolls to bagels and savory quiches. Segal’s signature mac and cheese makes a reappearance, too, and can be reheated and enjoyed at home.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Hyde Park
  • price 2 of 4

James Beard Award winner Erick Williams looks to the Big Easy for inspiration at his latest project in Hyde Park. Not to be confused with pasta palace Daisies, this vibrant restaurant is where Chicagoans can go to devour delicious sandwiches while watching their favorite teams on big screens. Get your po’ boy with classic proteins like roast beef and fried shrimp (an alligator version is on the way). Other highlights include a muffuletta with a Chicago twist—olive giardiniera—and impeccable pieces of fried chicken. The drink menu stays on theme with sazeracs, Ramos gin fizzes and frozen hurricanes.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Streeterville
  • price 2 of 4

Let’s face it, locals don’t have much reason to visit Navy Pier. But if you do find yourself there, you might as well make the best out of it and sit down to a good meal. Replacing seafood chain Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co., celebrity chef Art Smith’s new waterfront restaurant delivers comforting Southern fare. You’ll munch on dishes like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and Smith’s famous fried chicken complemented by mashed potatoes and house-made hot sauce. To finish, the moist hummingbird cake flavored with bananas, pineapples and pecans is a perfect sendoff that may entice you to come to the pier more often.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

Loaf Lounge co-owner Sarah Mispagel served as a pastry consultant on FX hit The Bear so much of the buzz surrounding this new Avondale cafe has revolved around the chocolate cake, which was featured on the show. And while it’s a simple yet satisfying version that you selfishly won’t want to share, don’t overlook the rest of the menu. Whether it’s eggy breakfast sandwiches, flaky croissants and kouign-amann or freshly baked loaves of bread, there’s a wealth of carb-y delights to check out.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

BMO Tower welcomed several new food and beverage concepts this past summer. Hungry downtown workers will be happy to know they can swing by for grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and gourmet retail products from the Market, or savor pizzas baked to order, handmade pastas and other Italian specialties at the Eatery. If you’re off the clock, head to the adjacent World’s Fair-themed cocktail lounge, dubbed Afterbar, for a stiff libation.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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