New in Town: Chic Salads, a Zero Waste General Store, Indoor Putting Greens, and a Gym With a Movie Theater Full of Treadmills

There are probably some good things about February in the Chicago area. One bright light amidst the slush and gloom are the new restaurants, bars, boutiques, and fitness centers opening up to keep us going during what is usually a challenging month to appreciate. Many of the places listed here follow Covid protocols, so call or check their websites to see if you need to bring a mask and a vaccination card to have dinner, shop or workout at the establishments listed below.

Food & Drink

Roux

roux
Photo courtesy of Neil Burger

Roux in Hyde Park is both a new place for students to hang out and recharge as well as an inviting neighborhood spot for coffee, a snack, or a more complete meal of Southern diner-inspired plates designed by Consulting Chef Charlie McKenna. Chef McKenna is best known as the founder/chef at Lillie’s Q and LQ Chicken Shack – and we’ve seen his sauces for sale all over the world, in locations as far flung as Morocco, Paris and Toronto.

Considering Roux’s proximity to the University of Chicago and several major hospitals, Founder Steve Soble explains that the Roux team “wanted to bring the students, healthcare workers, and residents of Hyde Park a fun and relaxed experience with great quality food.” In addition to classics like the sticky and scrumptious cinnamon rolls and country ham with redeye gravy, there are some delicious-sounding and innovative creations like the Green Tomato Tartine and Brisket Hash.

1055 E. 55th St., Chicago

Sweetgreen

sweetgreen

Sweetgreen opened in Deerfield around the middle of January, offering on opening day to donate a meal to the Northern Illinois Food Bank for every meal sold at its new, almost 3,000 square foot location. The New York Times called Sweetgreen “the chain that made salads chic,” and when you check out the menu, you’ll see why it deserves that distinction.

The Steelhead Remoulade, for instance, foregrounds the salmon with chopped greens, lemon squeeze, and spicy sunflower seeds, dressed with lush remoulade, a beautiful balance of acidity and creaminess. The Crispy Chicken Salad features the blackened bird, chopped pickles and crispy rice, a very nice bite. There are also several “warm bowls” of grains and veggies to help power you through the Midwestern winter.

775 Waukegan Rd, Deerfield

Poke Bros

poke bros

Poke Bros offers fresh fish, Hawaiian style, in the currently trending poke bowl format which, if you haven’t had it already (unlikely, we realize) is the fish, cut into bite-sized pieces, raw, in a bowl with colorful ingredients including avocado, edamame, green onion, and other light, delectable flavor enhancements. Signature bowls include Johnny Utah, with edamame, cucumber and Sriracha aioli, and The Duke, with tuna, salmon, shrimp, and gochujang, a spicy Korean ketchup.

More adventurous diners go the route of “build your own bowl”: first, you select a base, like rice or salad, then you add a protein, like fish or chicken or a little of both, then pile on the extra ingredients, like tofu, corn, or seaweed salad. After you add your sauces – a little sweet soy or ponzu – you can select toppings like wonton chips or crispy onions for added crunch. When it’s time for dessert, there are many assorted flavors of mochi.

2745 Pfingsten Rd, Glenview

Puttery

puttery

Puttery newly opened in the Fulton Street Market, offers a place to have a drink, a bite, and a little friendly competition on the indoor greens. The 23,000-square-foot venue offers two levels and two uniquely themed, nine-hole putting courses, with two indoor bars; there’s also a rooftop/patio bar (we’ll have to wait a few months to enjoy that), a chef-driven menu and craft cocktail offerings.

“As the third largest city in the U.S., Chicago is an incredible and choice market for our newest entertainment concept,” says President and Chief Executive Officer of parent company Drive Shack, Hana Khouri, adding, “known for its lively atmosphere, West Loop is the perfect neighborhood for Puttery.”

If you’re longing for the golf courses that are currently covered in snow and ice, Puttery will provide some welcome relief.

932 W. Randolph St. Chicago

Sushi by Bou

sushi by bou

Sushi by Bou in Hotel Lincoln is the most recent addition to the growing trend of super luxe sushi spots. Joining sister restaurants Sushi Suite 202 and Sushi Boutique, Sushi by Bou is a hotel suite outfitted with a cocktail bar, lounge area and sushi counter. Sushi by Bou allows ticketed and timed entry for a 12- or 17- course omakase menu, which diners enjoy during a 30- or 60-minute dining period.

In the tradition of omakase, the chef makes all the decisions about which fish to serve…and who would know better, right? Seating at the sushi counter enables guests to enjoy a kind of sushi theater where they can admire the time-honored knife skills of the chef and ask questions about the many beautiful seafood presentations, the technique of trimming the fish, or anything else they’d care to chat about. 

1816 N. Clark St., Chicago

Café Crèmerie

cafe cremerie

Cafe Cremerie is opening this winter in River North’s historic Tree Studio building. Owner Lisa Gasparian started up at this new location, having shut down her previous spot due to the looting and destruction that took place on the Gold Coast during the demonstrations of August 2020, as well as the daily challenges posed by the pandemic.

“I knew I had to push forward for myself and for my son,” says Gasparian. “I had to show him that with persistence and hard work, as long as you don’t give up, you can accomplish anything.”

At her new location, Gasparian and her staff will be serving twelve rotating gelato selections, all organic and made in the Italian tradition, as well as fruit-shelled sorbettos. In addition to the chilled treats, there are pastries and baked goods, including macarons, boboloni (filled Italian donuts), and petite cakes. For those looking for a light lunch, Gasparian is cooking up Margherita pizza, focaccia, and sandwiches.

615 N. State St., Chicago

Kyoto Garden

kyoto garden

Kyoto Garden a “modern Japanese restaurant,” caters to the continuing popularity of Japanese cuisine. Heading up the menu are sashimi, nigiri and a wide selection of sushi rolls, a food trend that also shows no signs of ending any time soon.

There are Japanese cooked items that are less frequently found at other local Japanese restaurants. For instance, Kushi Yaki are flame-grilled skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetable, glazed with teriyaki sauce; Oshinko is a pickled radish in a rice and seaweed roll. For those who prefer heartier fare, Kyoto Garden serves up many meat options, including New York Strip Loin Steak, Chicken Teriyaki and Tonkatsu, the famous pork tenderloin, coated in breadcrumbs, battered and deep fried, served with Japanese-style barbecue sauce, classic.

81 Waukegan Rd., Glenview

Shopping

Eco & The Flamingo

eco and the flamingo

Eco & The Flamingo with locations in Lincoln Square and now Evanston, was started by two best friends who just wanted to eliminate some of the waste that’s weighing down our planet. Eco & The Flamingo is a “zero waste general store.” In stock are a range of environmentally friendly products, including health/beauty and bath/body goods, home cleaning supplies, coffee and tea, nuts, herbs, and spices.

The website explains, “All of our products are reusable and long lasting, and we prioritize the reduction of packaging waste by offering bulk refillable products.” Shoppers are encouraged to bring in their own reusable containers to cut down on waste. Eco & The Flamingo supports Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which has the very admirable goal of supporting the circular economy and helping Evanston become a zero-waste city by 2050.

1551 Sherman Ave., Evanston

Familiar Bakery

famiiar bakery
Ashley Robinson

Familiar Bakery opening in Revival Food Hall, was the dream of Chef Ashley Robinson whose globally-inspired pastries have been enjoyed at restaurants such as Dusek’s Tavern, Japonais, and Spiaggia.

Having baked in places as far-flung as South Korea and Morocco, Robinson says “I’ve been lucky enough to spend my life indulging this obsession by eating at a lot of bakeries, traveling often, and spending time in incredible kitchens. Everything I make is an homage to a place I’ve been or a person I’ve met. With Familiar Bakery I’m trying to share the joy and magic I’ve experienced through baking and eating, and hopefully bring a little of that to someone’s every day.”

Familiar Bakery offers a wide range of baked goods, including sourdough bagels, savory pies, and “Real Strawberry” Donuts. 

125 S. Clark St., Chicago

All Too Well

all too well
Photo courtesy of Barry Brecheisen

All too Well is the sister restaurant – and next-door neighbor – to Lincoln Park’s Evette’s, which serves the perhaps unlikely combination of Lebanese-Mexican cuisine. Self-described as a “classic neighborhood sandwich shop & market,” All Too Well serves up some incredible-sounding sandwiches; case in point: I Make You Lamb, a combo of shredded lamb, whipped feta, and chimichurri, reflecting flavors of Lebanon as well as Latin America.

All Too Well is also a market, however, and it carries a large assortment of goods intended to be enjoyed at home. According to owner Mitchel Abou Jamra, who comes from a long line of shopkeepers, “Taking a page from my market and butcher shop roots, the grab-and-go section will highlight a slew of handpicked cured meats, cheese and accouterments perfect for creating charcuterie/cheese boards.”

And in case you’re wondering, Jamra admits that the Taylor Swift tune of the same name was an inspiration behind the name of his latest endeavor.

352 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago

Health & Wellness

The Edge Fitness Clubs

the edge fitness clubs

The Edge Fitness Clubs is a nationwide collection of fitness centers, now with a new location in Orland Hills. This spanking-new southwest side location opened in mid-January, fitted out with many cool amenities, including a turf sprinting track (kinder to the feet and legs), tanning tables, massage parlor, and Edge Cinema. This last member benefit is a room of treadmills in front of which there’s a huge screen that will premiere new movies each month (no additional ticket necessary), as well as cinema classics.

There are group classes in yoga and Zumba, as well as team training that helps us stick to our routines. The onsite Shake Bar features 15 whey protein shakes, as well as more kid-appropriate selections and flavors like Thin Mint and PB&J. The Edge Kids program is for youngs between 12 weeks and 12 years of age, and it includes access to the Edge Kids Room, which is just for them, and includes free play opportunities, as well as structured activities.

9231 W. 159th St., Orland Hills

Delos Strength

delos strength

Delos Strength celebrated their grand opening on Jan. 8. Their mission statement explains that “our core values are based on our elite approach to strength training, expertise of strength coaches, premium equipment, grit and attitude, and the most optimal use of 30 minutes than any other gym.” What this boils down to is some time-efficient, challenging workouts with experts in muscle recovery.

Before and after some serious sets with the weights and other equipment, Delos promises pre- and post-workout treatment sessions that help maintain muscle pliability so that even after a hard workout, you can come back ready for more. The new location in Winnetka bases their workouts on eccentric and hypertrophic exercises, as well as innovative isometric training protocols for muscular and tendon injuries. 

547 Lincoln Ave-Suite 1B, Winnetka


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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 Maria Oxcatlan, Oaxaca.