Humboldt Park’s culinary scene is taking off thanks to openings like Bar Marta, a cozy American spot helmed by a group of veterans of Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt empire. The accomplished drink list includes a Japanese cocktail balanced between cognac and orgeat, as well as orange wines. The straightforward but well-executed food is great drinking fare—try light gnocchi and roasted chicken with fried bread, then wind down over banana cake.
With a DJ in the lively lounge and a chef’s choice option called “I Don’t Give a Fuck,” this Gold Coast restaurant doesn’t feel quite like the typical Chicago steakhouse. But with a juicy rib eye, a sundae with a tower of toppings, a martini menu from Cristiana DeLucca and a thoughtful wine list from Belinda Chang, Maple & Ash is the kind of steakhouse we wish were more typical.
Sarah Grueneberg honed her Italian skills at Spiaggia. Now, at her own restaurant, Monteverde, she’s giving classic dishes a twist. Think creamy, peppery cacio e pepe made with four kinds of pepper and whey; arancini rolled with spicy nduja and served with poached tuna sauce; and squash-filled pasta accented with apples and bacon. The menu changes regularly, but the house-made pastas are an obvious place to start.
Chicago’s seafood scene just keeps getting better—Lincoln Park’s Oyster Bah is the latest spot to deliver freshly shucked oysters, fat crab legs and shrimp cocktail. The sister restaurant to Shaw’s Crab House, Oyster Bah nails the classics, though it’s the innovative dishes like a crisp half- snapper, slicked with Thai chili sauce and served on the bone, that we’ll return for as soon as possible.