Summer is here and the time is right for coming out to eat at new restaurants around Chicago and the North Shore. Supporting old favorites and giving a boost to newly opened restaurants and other businesses is a great way to keep our communities thriving. From dining and fitness to feline rescue and urgent care, here’s what’s new in town this month.
Restaurants & Bars
The Oakville Grill & Cellar opened in April and is the most recent addition to the Lettuce Entertain You portfolio. Inspired by the hospitality, high-quality ingredients and world class wines of California’s Napa Valley, The Oakville Grill & Cellar presents a menu that reflects the casual, seemingly effortless elegance of dining in West Coast wine country.
Starters include many vegetable- and seafood-forward offerings, and the entrees include such popular and delicious options as a fried chicken with potato salad and house-made pepper vinegar; pappardelle dressed in a sauce of eggplant confit and mushrooms, as well as skirt steak with hand-cut fried potatoes dressed with lime cilantro butter. To accompany all is the largest California-exclusive wine list in the Chicago area. Wine Director Richard Hanauer told Wine Spectator, “I was constantly flying west, and always for the same reason: vineyards, vineyards, vineyards. After tasting, we would go out to these great restaurants and would realize the food out there was just as interesting as the wine.”
163 N. Green St., Chicago
Hometown Coffee & Juice opened last month in Lake Forest, the third location for this very popular source for high-quality coffee and juice — well, of course — but also many baked goods and fruit-centric creations that look great, feel super-healthy and are simply delicious. Most of the dishes have a breakfast-orientation, like the yogurt with granola and berry bowls, but other menu items can be enjoyed throughout the day. Most impressive is the range of avocado-forward sandwiches, like The Classic (with Roma tomatoes and olive oil), the Mexican Avo Toast (with hard-boiled eggs and queso fresco) and the Avo & Lox (with cucumbers and tomatoes).
Hometown Coffee & Juice is owned and operated by Lou and Julie Rubin. Lou told The Record Northshore, “we really believe our concept will work in many neighborhoods … because we provide an environment that sort of transforms people. They walk in and it’s not like a normal coffee shop. It appeals to everyone. We see three generations of people in our coffee shop almost always.”
231 E. Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest
Fioretta is the latest from DineAmic Hospitality, which has made a big name for itself with restaurants like Prime & Provisions, Bar Siena and Violi. Quoted in Chicago Food Magazine, DineAmic co-founder Luke Stoioff said, “As our hospitality group continues to diversify and grow, we’re afforded incredible opportunities to bring the ideas that we’ve been envisioning for years to life, and it is an exciting feeling to watch our guests continue to greet these new concepts with the same excitement that we hold for them.”
Fioretta continues the tradition of Italian-American steakhouses. Much like Prime & Provisions, Fioretta will showcase red meat, 40-day wet aged and 45-day dry aged steaks, sizzling off a wood and charcoal grill. The beef is all natural Linz heritage Black Angus. But then there’s more, including savory appetizers like parmesan-rosemary zeppole with caviar and house-made pasta for dishes like truffle mushroom lasagna and a classic linguine and clams.
318 N. Sangamon St., Chicago
The Capital Grille, now with a new location in Skokie, serves up the cocktails and steaks that have made this restaurant group a standby in Chicago and many of the northern and western suburbs.
The Capital Grille is known for well-prepared comfort food — recognizable entrees that leverage high-quality ingredients to satisfy a range of diners. Begin with traditional favorites like French onion soup and shrimp cocktail, and then move into classic entrées from land and sea. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate a perfectly grilled filet mignon or a sushi grade sesame seared tuna. If, however, vegetables are more your thing, there’s burrata with heirloom tomatoes and grilled asparagus with lemon mosto — in case you’re wondering, that’s the juice of freshly crushed grapes. Of course, there’s a good selection of cocktails, beer and wine, too.
4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie
Mas Salud Kitchen and Bar opened recently in Evanston — close to Northwestern University — and it promises to deliver everyone’s Mexican favorites as well as some new items that may not be quite so familiar. There are carne asada and tacos al pastor, but also delicious new items like Michelada Mushrooms, which are portobello mushrooms tossed in tomato based Michelada salsa, and Mayan Hummus, mashed pumpkin seeds topped with olive oil and served with flour tortillas.
Owner Michael Melnick told the Evanston Roundtable that “I want to have a little something for everyone [but that] being a mezcal bar, there’s really not any of those right now. So, it’s kind of a niche market we’re trying to tap into.” In addition to mezcal, there’s an impressive list of cocktails, including the Michelada (Mexican beer, spices, cilantro and lime juice in a glass rimmed with chamoy and tajin) and the Oaxacan Old Fashioned (with tequila, mezcal, homemade simple syrup and Angostura bitters, garnished with jalapeno and orange peel).
720 N. Clark St., Evanston
Lonesome Rose in Andersonville is the second location for the Tex-Mex restaurants that got their start in Logan Square and quickly got serious neighborhood cred with one of the happiest happy hours in one of the hippest of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Sometimes, it seems, Tex-Mex food doesn’t get the respect it deserves. If you’ve tended to perceive Tex-Mex as basically traditional Mexican food blanketed in a whole lot of cheese, you should check out the offerings at Lonesome Rose. The roast half-chicken in adobo with charro beans is a credible rendition of this regional standard, and another popular dinner choice is the Crunchy Beefy Quesorito. There are also vegan options — like the Tinga de Garbanzo of avocado, onion, cilantro and chickpea crema — accompanied by several alcohol-free beverage options. Lonesome Rose was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Design and has been a regularly recognized Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant.
5310 N. Clark St., Chicago
IL Milanese Ristorante serves the traditional food of the northern Italian city of Milan, and if you’re not familiar with the cuisine of that region, you can get to know it a lot better at IL Milanese Ristorante in Lincoln Square. “All these celebrity chefs,” co-owner and chef Carlo Maggi told Block Club Chicago, “they try to do fusion tasting here and there and combining things, which is good. Don’t get me wrong, I like experimenting, but I want to give new life [to classic] dishes.” One of the menu items that makes Maggi particularly proud is a tagliolini dish served with cream sauce, peas and Italian cooked ham, a traditional favorite at legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice. Other dishes that may surprise and delight you include Milanese & Luganega, which is Caranoli saffron rice and a ragu of Luganega sausage; Tortelloni filled with roasted pumpkin, amaretto cookies, fruit mustard, brown butter, Parmigiano and a sage sauce; and Chicche Pavesi, a spinach gnocchi in Gorgonzola cheese sauce.
2201 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
Thomas & Dutch in Evanston represents a move toward more cocktail-centric dining. Co-owner Thomas “TJ” Callahan told the Chicago Tribune, “We had 36 craft beer taps at Farmhouse Evanston. Craft beer was huge at that time, but the world has changed, and craft beer is becoming ubiquitous. So, what has happened in recent years is a strong shift in alcoholic beverage sales from craft beer toward craft cocktails and wine.”
And what is there to eat with those craft cocktails and wine? Some very delicious dishes, including a good number of vegetable-forward starters like mushroom rigatoni, oven-roasted beets and tofu salad. For those who seek heartier — read: meatier — dinners, there are many steaks to choose from: beef Wellington (one of those dishes you will likely never make at home) and grilled Slagel New York strip (which you could make at home, but trust us, it’d be hard to beat the job done by the chefs at Thomas & Dutch).
703 Church St., Evanston
Hinoki Sushiko is one of the newest in the tsunami of sushi places to open in the Chicagoland area. With a darkened bar area on the first floor and a light and airy dining room on the second, Hinoki Sushiko offers different dining and drinking experiences under one roof … and some of the best fish and seafood we’ve had in a long time.
Chef-owner Gustavo Barhona told us that the most important consideration in a sushi restaurant is, unsurprisingly, “the freshness of the fish,” but equally important is the way the fish was harvested. “I would say,” Barhona says, “that the best fish you can get has gone through a process of ikejime, which is the way that they kill the fish,” ideally quickly, for ethical as well as gustatory reasons. There’s no arguing with the quality of the fish served at Hinoki, and that quality is shown best in dry-aged and smoked versions of the raw fish that make up part of their spectacular omakase menu.
1465 W. Willow St., Chicago
Health & Wellness
Training Moment is opening a new location in Lincoln Park, bringing to that neighborhood its approach of providing individual instruction within a group setting. Owned by Nik and Katy Rodriguez, Training Moment now has three locations, two in Chicago and one in Milwaukee. The husband-wife team opened their first Training Moment spots four months before the pandemic shutdown. At that time, they switched to live online workouts to maintain the bonds they had just started to build with their community and to give their trainers a source of consistent income.
To efficiently gain maximum results from a workout that takes only a brief amount of time, consider Training Moment’s fifty-minute Strength Forward workout, consisting of 35 minutes of training between Training Moment’s 3 Zones — Rig, Bench and Climber — and an optional self-directed cool down and stretch. Nik Rodriguez has said, “We focus on lifting weights in the majority of our sessions,” rather than cardio, though climbers are a big part of the Training Moment experience.
1841 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago
PromptMed Urgent Care in Highland Park held its grand opening on April 26, joining two earlier locations in Waukegan and Antioch, offering accessible and affordable walk-in care for adults and children. Open seven days a week, 365 days a year, PromptMed Urgent Care is available without an appointment, at what they advertise as a “fraction of the cost of an ER visit,” and most major insurance coverages are accepted.
Services include urgent care for broken bones, sprains and strains, sutures and stitches, removal of foreign bodies — like glass and nails — lacerations, burns, bites and cuts, and infections. PromptMed Urgent Care promises “the same quality medical treatment you’d expect from your family doctor or emergency room, but with greater convenience” … and comfort. The waiting area at PromptMed is spacious, and it features a coffee bar and other amenities to help you feel as comfortable as possible as you wait for medical assistance. The highly trained staff usually includes a physician and an assistant, radiology technician and medical assistant. You may never go to a hospital emergency room again.
1849 Green Bay Rd., Suite 171, Highland Park
Paws & Claws Cat Rescue has a mission helping our feline friends by “preventing and alleviating the suffering caused by abuse, neglect and overpopulation. We help cats mentally and physically heal, and give them a chance to find love, a full life and a forever home.” If you are a fancier of felines, Paws & Claws in Evanston is an organization you will want to know about.
In the newly opened facility, Paws & Claws offers resources for pet owners facing hardship, pet food pantries and assistance with securing emergency medical care for your cat(s). Even if you don’t own, but still love cats, there are abundant volunteer opportunities in the areas of adoption counseling, branding, graphic design and even TikTok content creation — because, as you may have heard, there are lots of adorable cat videos on the internet. Though based in Evanston, Paws & Claws serves all of Chicago and the suburbs including Glenview, Northbrook, Morton Grove, Skokie, Wilmette, Des Plaines and Lincolnwood.
829 Chicago Ave., Evanston
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David Hammond is Dining and Drinking Editor at Newcity and contributes to the Chicago Tribune and other publications. In 2004, he co-founded LTHForum.com, the 15,000 member food chat site; for several years he wrote weekly “Food Detective” columns in the Chicago Sun-Times; he writes weekly food columns for Wednesday Journal. He has written extensively about the culinary traditions of Mexico and Southeast Asia and contributed several chapters to “Street Food Around the World.”
David is a supporter of S.A.C.R.E.D., Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education and Development, an organization founded by Chicagoan Lou Bank and dedicated to increasing awareness of agave distillates and ensuring that the benefits of that awareness flow to the villages of Oaxaca, Mexico. Currently, S.A.C.R.E.D is funding the development of agave farms, a library and water preservation systems for the community of Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca.