The weather has cooled off but the dining and retail scene in Chicago and the suburbs is hotter than ever. It’s always a good sign when popular spots add new outposts, and Edie’s All-Day Cafe, Bonchon, Barcocina, and jewelry store, gorjana, have all opened additional locations. Other new openings to add to the must-visit list this season include a Silk Road-inspired concept from Bonhomme; an all-day cafe and wine bar from a chef trio with resumes that include Alinea, Elske and Acadia; and a cocktail bar at the Robey oozing with ’80s and ’90s pop culture nostalgia. Get your datebook ready — here’s what’s new in town this fall.
Dining & Drinking
The Hen of Lincoln Park is all about “diner-inspired” breakfast and brunch, though the menu includes more finessed plates than one usually encounters in your average greasy spoon. “We’re bringing an elevated classic brunch paired with a crafted cocktail menu to Lincoln Park,” says Chef David Rodriguez, adding “This neighborhood is diverse, and we want to cater to families, students, young professionals and everyone in between. We offer a relaxing experience throughout the week.”
So, what to expect at The Hen? There are some morning options like Cousin Vinny Omelet and Rustic Avocado Toasts, but also heftier choices like a Breakfast Burger and Fried Chicken and Waffles. Somewhat unusual among Chicago restaurant breakfasts is an Oatmeal Bar with 20 different toppings (including passion fruit, chia seeds and butterscotch chips). For a boozy brunch, there’s a Build-Your-Own-Mimosa Package that includes fresh juices and a bottle of Cava.
2423 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Edie’s All Day Café opened its second location in September. The first location of this “all-day café” started doing business during COVID’s peak, and it has been thriving ever since. Chef Amanda Salas (recent champion of Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”) provides culinary direction at the new location, which will feature expanded hours, a space for private events and an enhanced menu with hearty selections like meatballs, steak frites and braised short ribs.
During COVID, this around-the-clock restaurant was also among the first to pioneer the concept of a “third place,” a space between work and home where diners can work, be among others, yet still feel the comforts of home. Arturo Gomez, Edie’s co-founder, explains “We wanted to create something new with Edie’s where people could come meet, work, create and also enjoy what we believe are great food and beverage options throughout the day and into the evening. The community response over the last two years has been tremendous.”
354 W. Hubbard Street, Chicago
Bonchon started in 2002 in Busan, South Korea, and it has grown to over one hundred locations worldwide. Now, Bonchon brings its brand of spicy and delicious Korean food to Skokie. “Chicagoland loves Bonchon,” says owner/operator Zia Ghani. “So, we’re thrilled to be a part of expanding the Crunch Out Loud movement in the North Shore to bring fans delicious eats even closer to home. We can’t wait to welcome the Skokie community to our new location and spread the love of Korean fried chicken. I look forward to continuing to watch this amazing brand’s growth throughout the state.”
And, yes, it’s the Korean fried chicken that brings many people to Bonchon. The fried chicken of Korea is distinguished by crackly thin crust, usually seasoned with spices, salt and sugar (which caramelizes slightly to render the “crust” translucent and crisp). Korean fried chicken restaurants usually use small- or medium-sized chicken because the meat from those petite birds is more tender. At Bonchon, you get a highly finessed bird.
5237 W. Touhy Avenue, Skokie
Pompette is billed as “Bucktown’s newest all-day neighborhood café and wine spot.” There’s a lot of competition for that kind of place in Bucktown, but one — or rather three! — of the factors that set this new place apart are Chefs Ashley Aubin (Alinea, Salero), Katie Wasielewski (Elske, Pub Royale) and Aaron Patten (Acadia, Moody Tongue). “After so many years in the kitchen,” says Aubin, “I’m looking forward to engaging more directly with our guests, being the one to help guide the experiences. This concept is a shared vision of what dynamic hospitality can look like, pulling from the collective experiences Aaron, Katie and I have had across the industry … we want to create a home-away-from-home, a spot where anyone can feel comfortable dropping in for an interesting glass of wine and a great meal.”
In case you’re wondering, “pompette” is a French slang term for being just a little tipsy. Pompette will be a space for neighbors to gather for wine exploration paired with delectable light bites and grab-and-go options, featuring vegan and vegetarian alternatives.
1960 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago
Bambola continues the exotically hip tradition of restaurants from Bonhomme Hospitality, including Celeste, Beatnik on the River, Bordel and many others. At this new restaurant, dishes will reflect the overlapping culinary traditions of cities along the Silk Road, including China, India, Iran and Turkey. Bonhomme founder Daniel Alonso told Eater that “over the last year and a half, we’ve been looking at the ingredients, flavors, compositions and cooking equipment as a giant database to teach ourselves new lessons in culinary history. We’re not trying to make chicken parmesan a la Iran — we’re trying to create unique dishes that respect the historical context of those countries with ingredients they didn’t have. We can step into that space with something modern, which is the coolest part of the world we live in.”
As an example of some of the cross-cultural offerings at Bambola, standouts include fire-roasted Turkish pork dumplings with charred corn labneh and lemongrass jus, smoked eggplant with crispy garbanzos and za’atar, and banana leaf branzino with fried rice, mandarin sweet chili sauce, pickled mung beans, and mochi pancakes.
1402 W. Randolph Street, Chicago
Valhalla in Time Out Market is committed to making “fine dining accessible within a casual environment.” In the kitchen, Chef Stephen Gillanders is in charge, and he has explained that “Rather than looking at Valhalla as an unorthodox approach, I feel like this opportunity is part of a natural restaurant progression that we are already experiencing. I’m very excited to wrap my arms around the location of Time Out Market Chicago and capture the best of the Market’s high energy in tandem with an upscale experience.”
Valhalla is the first standalone restaurant located within the Time Out market, and what it offers is unique to that environment, Gillanders serves up a tasting menu at the 16-seat chef’s counter and in the dining room. There are also many luxe a la carte offerings, reflecting Gillanders’ time in the kitchens of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Some of those beautifully executed menu options include seared Japanese scallops, dry-aged lamb, chilled Kusshi oysters and smoked ricotta cappelletti.
916 W. Fulton Market, Chicago
Barcocina in West Town opens seven years after the first Barcocina location in Lakeview, with a 230-seat patio that’s 50% larger than the original location, decorated with murals painted by local Mexican artists. This new spot continues to offer Modern Mexican cuisine, the traditional foods of our southern neighbor prepared with a modernist sensibility in a space designed to be homey and inviting. Adam Webb, General Manager and Managing Partner says, “We’re thrilled to introduce Barcocina to the West Town neighborhood. At its core, Barcocina is all about providing an exciting and welcoming place for everyone to gather around the table.”
On the Barcocina menu, you’ll see guacamole and queso fundido — and you’d be disappointed if you didn’t, right? — but there are also some other equally delicious and more inventive dishes. Like what? Well, like Jamaican jerk chicken tacos, tofu prepared in the style of al pastor spit-roasted meat, and Bang Bang Cauliflower (tempura style with togarashi and sweet chili sauce). There are many cocktails and beers available by the glass and the pitcher.
1814 W Chicago Ave. Chicago
The Meadowlark, opened in early October, is described as a “back-alley craft cocktail bar.” This intimate 825-square-foot bar is helmed by Abe Vucekovich, formerly of highly acclaimed The Violet Hour. The Meadowlark was inspired by “Field Guide Vol.1: Birds of the Northwest,” and so, owner Steve Lewis explains, “We thought it most appropriate to explore our avian friends in the debut menu. It’s our ‘taking-flight’ moment, and what better way to honor the journey that we’ve been on these past few years building Meadowlark Hospitality than to show our reverence for the name behind it.”
This reverential, avian-influenced menu includes Vucekovich creations like Snowy Owl (Quebranta Pisco, crème de cacao, orgeat, egg froth) and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Bolivian brandy, Amontillado sherry, amaro, and house-smoked orange bitters). The menu promises to be mostly small bites designed to accompany drinks.
2812 W. Palmer Street, Chicago
Clever Coyote opened in early October on the second floor of the Robey Hotel, and it’s described as “an ode to the history of The Robey’s 1929 landmarked building” – the hotel used to be called the Coyote Building because its spire was thought to resemble the upturned nose of a howling coyote.
The new second floor concept serves up smart sips and nostalgia from ’80s and ’90s pop culture as well as a touch of the ’60s (i.e., psychedelic lighting). Cocktails from Beverage Director Mike Choi show the distinct influence of Tiki culture with drinks like Black Hole Sun, made with mezcal and tequila, roasted grapefruit syrup, lime with activated charcoal, as well as Rye Tai, with lavender, lemon and aquavit. Chef Michael Elliot offers de rigueur wings, but also creative steamed buns inspired by popular sandwiches like Philly Cheesesteak, smoked pork belly and falafel.
2018 W. North Avenue, Chicago
Garasi in Highland Park is the latest restaurant from John Des Rosiers, who we’ve seen working in several local kitchens over the years, and who now has restaurants all over the North Shore, including Inovasi and Bonk Soup & Sandwich in Lake Bluff, as well as The Station and Everett Farms in Lake Forest.
Garasi is subtitled “Asian. Sushi. Bowls. Entrées,” and the menu is pan-Asian, including some selections from the Philippines. Filipino food is having a moment, so you may want to check out offerings like lumpia (Filipino style egg rolls) before diving into the more familiar offerings from Japan (like gyoza and chicken teriyaki) and China (like Hong Kong broccolini and lo mein noodles). There are also upgraded versions of the Philly Cheesesteak and lox and bagels. Des Rosiers has been quoted as saying “If I have an idea in my head, it almost always works.” Does Garasi work? There’s only one way to find out.
431 Temple Avenue, Highland Park
Gorjana has opened its newest Chicagoland location in Oak Brook. Founded in 2004 on the apartment floor of husband-and-wife duo Jason and Gorjana Reidel, gorjana has built a reputation for beautiful jewelry with effortless, laid-back style. With mango wood finishes, brass hardware, driftwood and sea glass details, the space has a “coastal bungalow feel” and will display the brand’s “latest and greatest collections and will feature a robust display of fine jewelry offerings.”
Throughout all gorjana locations, homage is paid to their hometown with hand-dipped tapestries inspired by the coastline of Laguna Beach; in Oak Brook “energy-clearing” crystal quartz chandeliers adorn the ceilings.
CEO Reidel explains the reasoning behind the expansion: “Based on the tremendous success of our location in Chicago, we look forward to bringing the gorjana retail experience to Oakbrook Center, providing customers with the ability to interact with our brand in-person and access services like buy online, pick up in store, same day delivery, complimentary bespoke engraving and assistance from our incredible team of stylists.”
420 Oakbrook Center, Oakbrook
Here Here Market is the “next generation online marketplace for one-of-a-kind chef packaged goods.” Here Here is where to come for Chicago-based brands from the city’s most worthy restaurants, including Monteverde, El Che and Galit. From these well-known names and others, Here Here offers artisanal products and curated gift boxes delivered nationwide to shoppers’ front doors or to friends. Founded in 2021 by Disha Gulati and Nick Florek, Here Here addresses needs created by the turmoil and trauma of the pandemic, when restaurants were forced to close and culinary experts felt compelled to get creative.
Every year, around 30,000 new food brands hit the market, and many of them fail. Here Here is designed to help ensure success by providing e-commerce access for small and emerging brands. This initiative also helps make restaurants somewhat recession-proof by developing new revenue streams. Here Here is trying to redefine the restaurant-to-retail space with a marketplace created specifically for culinary creators to offer shelf-stable, packaged products, in addition to assistance with product ideation and development and, ultimately, sales to people like you.
222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago
More From Better
- Give Time, Things, Support: 5 Ways To Support Those in Need in Chicago and the Suburbs As Cold Weather Approaches
- LEGO Foundation and Lever for Change Launch ‘Build a World of Play Challenge’ to Combat Childhood Inequity — Meet the Finalists
- How Do Students Bounce Back from a Pandemic-Induced Academic Slump? Academic Approach Presents Stats and Expert Strategies
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.