Restaurants and other places listed here are open for business, with some scheduled to hold their grand openings in the next few weeks. Delays are always a possibility, of course, so please call to confirm that these places are open before you make the trek to them.
Food & Drink
500 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Pigtail is the most recent effort from José Andrés, Spanish chef extraordinaire and humanitarian, who launched Pigtail downstairs of his recently opened Jaleo. Dubbed a “speakeasy,” Pigtail will focus on world famous jamón (the carefully tended pork of Spain), which makes an appearance in many of the dishes. Mixed drinks include an innovative version of Spain’s signature cocktail, the Vacuum Gin & Tonic #3, made tableside with a vacuum infusion of spices and herbs. “I absolutely love the speakeasy bar scene in Chicago,” says Andrés, “so when I saw the lower level space at Jaleo, I knew we could create something really special. We’re combining two of my favorite things: jamón and cocktails! It’s going to be a fun destination to start or end your night.”
613 N. Wells Street, Chicago
Yours Truly announces itself to be “an upscale neighborhood cocktail & wine bar focusing on sports programming and American comfort food,” Yours Truly’s menu comes in two sections: Eat Clean (with items like Hummus Trio and Vegan Cowboy Caviar) and Train Dirty (Grilled Wagyu Do and Double Smashburger). There are many cocktails here, including the classics (their martini section presents seven takes on the drink) as well as other unique creations. There’s also a sizeable selection of wine. “River North lacks bars and restaurants that have a neighborhood feel with an exceptional wine list,” says Adolfo Garcia, Yours Truly partner, “We want to fill that void and give people a place to grab a great cocktail or a nice glass of wine in a casual, yet beautiful, setting.”
2924 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago
Central Park Bar opened October 30 as a “classic corner bar with the charm of an old school Chicago tavern.” There’s is a modernist edge to the old timey vibe: alongside cans of Old Style and Miller High Life, and choice Belgian and German selections, there are sizeable collections of cider, seltzer and kombucha. What would probably not be found in your classic corner bar are innovative craft cocktails like the Last Bonfire (mezcal, banana and walnut liqueurs, crème de cacao, with chocolate and cranberry bitters) and, on draft, Soul Punch (cachaca, rum, prickly pear liqueur, simple syrup along with pineapple and lime juice). As important as the liquid refreshments is the look of the place: in this early 1940s building, there’s an original 80-year-old wood bar that stretches the length of the space, along with twenty bright green vinyl barstools with cowboy backs.
636 Deerfield Road, Deerfield
Joe Donut is coming soon to Deerfield, and it’s building on the previous success of earlier locations of this donut/coffee bar/breakfast/lunch place with locations in Mount Prospect, Niles, Skokie, and Glenview. On display, a stunning array of hand-crafted donut creations, many with high-end ingredients, like the Valrhona Chocolate Iced Cake, Pistachio Old Fashioned, and Vanilla Bean Glazed Donuts. Feeling a little guilty about giving in to these sugar-coated pleasures? You can help allay that guilt with the knowledge that Joe Donut’s heart is in the right place: the JoeCares program gives back to the local communities by donating leftovers to local food banks, nursing homes, shelters, churches, and other non-profits. So have another donut and help your fellow human beings.
2121 Ashland Avenue, Evanston
Double Clutch Brewing Co, unlike craft breweries that focus on hop-heavy IPAs and India Pale Ales, emphasizes German and other European lager styles. Scott Frank, Head Brewer, says the preparation of beer served at his brewpub follows time-honored German purity laws, which is “as organic a process as you can have,” because it forbids additives. There will be a focused menu, so folks can come in, order a sandwich, and have a beer…or a glass of wine or spirits. The brewery is currently working with a distillery to produce whiskey under the Double Clutch moniker. And if you’re wondering about the name of this new brewpub, it was inspired by the owners’ plan to use a portion of the brewpub space to display classic cars. (If you’ve never used a stick or manual transmission, double clutching is when you release and engage the clutch twice when changing gears: the more you know…).
225 W. Front Street, Wheaton
Ditka’s Grill in Wheaton is the latest restaurant from the man that Chicagoans know simply as “Da Coach.” As with other Ditka’s locations, there are “traditional American dishes” including big meat favorites like the Barrel-Cut Filet Mignon and the Heavy-Aged Boneless Ribeye. This new location also reflects the increasing preference for fish and other “healthier” options. For dinner, there’s a range of sushi rolls, like Teardrop Spicy Shrimp and vegan selections like the Tempura Veggie Volcano (trumpet mushroom, cilantro, asparagus, miso). Of course, there are a variety of beverages, including craft cocktails, draft and bottle beer, and an enormous range of wines from the Coach’s Cellar Wine List.
1007 W. Argyle Street, Chicago
Don Pablo’s Kitchen & Bakeshop has a location in Glenview and soon they’ll have a new spot in Uptown, serving the Chilean version of the baked hand pie. Cousins to the hand pies of Wales and Ireland (pasties) as well as those of India (samosas) and Greece (spanakopita), the Chilean hand pie can be filled with just about anything. At Don Pablo’s Kitchen and Bakeshop, optional fillings include the Clásica (sautéed hand-cut top sirloin steak, black olives, hard-boiled egg, and onions), the vegan Napolitana (tomato, basil, cheese, and oregano) and Greek Tragedy (artichoke hearts, cremini mushrooms, kalamata olives and feta). For dessert, you’re going to want to try the alfajores, tender butter cookie sandwiches filled with homemade caramel.
1055 E. 55th Street, Chicago
Seven Ten Social combines bowling with beer (not surprising) and bites of extremely high quality (quite surprising). For those interested in hurling a few, there are eight lanes, each able to comfortably accommodate up to six players, with mid-century modern curved leather chairs and barstools. Food is provided by Charlie McKenna of the well-recognized Lillie’s Q, and he’s serving up favorites like Wagyu beef burgers, fried chicken sandwiches as well as wings and tenders. “With a stunning modern industrial décor,” says founder Steve Soble,” state-of-the-art bowling machines with automatic scoring, and a great menu from award-winning Chef Charlie McKenna, we want Seven Ten Social to be a Hyde Park institution for fun times for the next 20 years.”
49 E. Cermak Road, Chicago
Mustard Seed Kitchen is the most recent effort from Erick Williams, the James Beard-nominated chef whose Virtue restaurant in Hyde Park has gained national recognition. At this spot, the focus is on comfort food, with dishes like glazed pork chops and a double cheeseburger. Throughout, you’ll notice chef Javier Lopez’s focus on fresh ingredients and healthy entrees, including gluten-free pasta and salads like the classic chopped Cobb salad, kale, and the ever-popular Wedge. Williams tells us that, ““The menu at Mustard Seed Kitchen represents simple, everyday meals that I eat at home. There are a lot of great options, made with quality ingredients, that are affordable and easy to pick up and enjoy at home.”
Opening a new location in Northbrook early next year, the Wilmette-based Napolita Pizzeria & Wine Bar Northbrook promises wood-fired pizza in the style of Naples, the recognized birthplace of the popular pie. Building on a wide selection of red and white pizzas, toppings include the standard margherita (mozzarella, basil) and quattro formaggi (four cheeses), as well as less well-known versions of the pie with nduja (a spreadable sausage), noci (walnut pesto) and acciuga (anchovies…but hey, some of us find the little fish quite tasty!) – and, yes, gluten-free crust is available. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there are tempting pasta possibilities, such as the linguini with clams and the gnocchi alla Bolognese with braised pork and cremini mushrooms. This is a period of significant expansion for Napolita Pizzeria & Wine Bar, which is teaming with Double Clutch brewery for another location in Millennium Park.
481 Roger Williams Avenue, Highland Park
Sally’s Nuts is officially pre-pandemic having opened in 2020, but they’re just now having their grand opening because 2020, for many of us, was a lost year that we’d just as soon forget. The mother-daughter team of local artist Sally Schock and Kari Guhl sells bags, boxes and gift assortments of pecans, almonds, and other nuts, which during the holiday season seem like the right thing to gift to friends and family or to simply gobble down yourself. When asked about her “secret ingredient” for staying in business and thriving during the pandemic, Guhl said, “That first ingredient has to be love, and if you don’t have it, it won’t work.” In addition to their Highland Park store, Sally’s Nuts can also be purchased at Binny’s locations around the Chicagoland area.
2608 Green Bay Road, Evanston
Sew Design Studio proves that it’s cool, again, to be a seamstress/seamster; sewing is back in style, big time, and it’s being enjoyed by people of all ages. Sliding into this trending pastime, Sew Design Studio, which is having its grand opening mid-November, offers classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced sewers; and private lessons are also available. Says instructor Veronica Brackett, “Sewing is still my passion. It’s done a lot more for me. It’s a world of its own. Sewing is not only a skill; it’s an art. Art can heal… if you’re willing. Go on this journey with me.”
3217 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago
Cog Cycles Chicago opened pre-pandemic in North Park, but they recently relocated to be closer to the North Shore Channel Trail. As with other business owners who had a bit of luck during the pandemic, the store got a boost during the almost two years when people who’d been cooped up indoors decided to upgrade their bicycles, go outside, and hit the road for some fresh air and exercise. Owners Brian Kremen and Liz Hilt specialize in tune-ups and rebuilds of steel-frames, and they also have a tightly curated selection of new bicycles. For new or used bikes, Cog Cycles Chicago offers “powdercoating,” a process that seals the bike in a protective coating.
12940 S LaGrange Rd, Palos Park
Emmerson Toys, Gifts and Hobbies has opened just in time for the holidays. Co-owner Stephanie Greco told the Chicago Tribune, “We have been involved in online sales for the past several years and decided we wanted to expand to a brick and mortar store,” Greco explained, “because some manufacturers wouldn’t sell to us if we didn’t have a brick and mortar store. We researched many locations and decided we wanted to bring this fun new store to the village we live in and love.” Now, Emmerson Toys, Gifts and Hobbies offers an exceptionally broad range of items for all age groups. In addition to the toys, there are arts and crafts supplies, and some carefully selected interactive, educational games.
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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.