Summer weather means getting out and about every chance we get. Lots of cool new places are open this month around Chicago and the suburbs — from a new Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Naperville, to rooftop dining in Skokie, to a newcomer in Tavern on Rush’s famed location — as well as a few renovated go-tos that will give you that summertime feeling you’re searching for. Here’s what’s new in town.
Restaurants & Bars
Saltwater Coastal Grill just opened in Parkway Bank Park, an oasis of greenery and upmarket retail in a suburb surrounded by expressways. Saltwater Coastal Grill promises to “feature a fusion of global-inspired, land and seaside fare including a dynamic raw and omakase bar with a Mediterranean flair.”
Here’s how that mission statement plays out on the menu. Though you can order “real” Boston clam chowder and Maryland crab cakes at Saltwater Coastal Grill, there are many dishes that reflect the promised “Mediterranean flair.” These Mediterranean-inspired dishes are very veg-forward, like citrus fennel salad, orange segments, shaved fennel, provolone and Marcona almonds; whole roasted beets, tabbouleh salad and horseradish cream; and the very popular za’atar hummus, sliced veggies, tzatziki sauce, spiced pita and sesame crumble. Aside from the raw dishes, there are many other delectable fish and seafood menu items, including an outstanding grilled Atlantic swordfish and a pan-roasted lobster. All aquatic proteins are kept and prepped in a “Fish Room,” a walk-in cooler that maintains a constant temperature of 35 degrees to preserve the texture, flavor and freshness of all fruits de mer.
5509 Park Place, Rosemont
Hampton Rooftop in Skokie is a place to relax in the sun — yes, it seems summer is definitely here — and eat and drink au plein air. This “coastal-inspired retreat” is aiming to evoke seaside dining in a 7,500 square foot space, expansive enough to accommodate almost 200 guests. If shade is more to your liking, there’s a partially covered 20-seat bar and pergola space.
For this rooftop location, Hampton Social is focusing on the brand’s most popular dishes, like the Baja fish tacos and the Manhattan- or Maine-style lobster rolls, perfect accompaniments to the large selection of rosé wine — it’s “rosé all day” on this rooftop. “The summer season in Chicago is synonymous with outdoor dining,” said Parker Hospitality Founder and CEO Brad Parker, “so we are thrilled to bring our ‘rosé all day’ vibe to our North Shore location. The Hampton Rooftop is an exciting addition to our Skokie location where guests can gather to soak up the sun in a coastal setting that is a trademark of The Hampton Social experience.”
4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie
Miru at the new St. Regis Hotel is the latest from the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, and it promises to be wonderful — and when you have a restaurant in a hotel with rooms going for around $1,000/night, you’re likely going to expect a lot.
There is, of course, a lot to like at Miru, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a casual bite or a full-blown business banquet guaranteed to impress. Following Japanese culinary tradition, there’s a lot of fantastic fish — some raw, some cooked. Bluefin tuna and crispy shiso come in a sesame vinaigrette as a fantastic starter and crispy, boneless whole snapper is the kind of fish that even committed carnivores can appreciate. And for all you lovers of red meat, you can kick off lunch or dinner with raw A5 Wagyu with a warm miso brioche and then lay into any one of many pieces of magnificent meat, including prime beef like a center cut beef filet or New York strip, and the Miyazaki A5 Wagyu Zabuton. To drink, there’s a predictably wide range of cocktails, wine and sake.
401 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago
The Bellevue is now open in the space once occupied by Tavern on Rush, a perennial Viagra Triangle favorite. The interior, we’re told, “has been completely reimagined, creating an impressive new aesthetic with added functionality. On the first floor, an expanded bar area provides more room for socializing and lounging. The revamped second floor now includes an additional bar, open kitchen and sweeping views of Rush Street, Mariano Park and the surrounding area from freshly installed nano doors.”
Nano doors? Glad you asked. A nano door is a folding partition of windows, the better to take in the “beautiful view” — or, as the French say, le bellevue. As at the former Tavern on Rush, this will be a place for Gold Coast residents as well as wide-eyed tourists to gather for signature cocktails and a menu that promises to feature “contemporary American fare … timeless and elegant.” As at Tavern on Rush, Bellevue sounds like it will welcome guests in suits and ties as well as more casual attire.
1031 N. Rush, Chicago
Heaven’s Barbecue on Earth, a lively, family-owned restaurant in Wheeling, is now open and smokin’ hot. Their website announces that this restaurant is “renowned for upholding the rich traditions of Southside Chicago barbecue; they infuse their meats with a unique blend of smoked wood, crafting a truly exquisite taste.”
Now that summer is here, many of us long for the flavor of meat and veggies grilled over an open fire. Owner and pitmaster Christopher Jordan is turning out all the popular items, including baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs — read: spareribs — and Chicago South Side rib tips — the chewy nubs cut off the ends of the ribs. Low and slow is the way to go with much barbecue, and Heaven’s Barbecue on Earth offers many slow cooked items, like pulled pork and brisket. Tempting from-scratch sides include mac n’ cheese and baked beans, as well as collard greens and cornbread.
1 Huntington Lane, Wheeling
Elia comes to Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood from Metin Sebrest, who also owns Turquoise, a long-standing Turkish restaurant, and Bordeaux Lounge by Turquoise, both in Roscoe Village. Elia serves what is described as Modern Mediterranean cuisine, and that food is presented in an elegant, modernist space enhanced with large murals, and many gold and black furnishings.
If you like hummus, there are multiple variations of this popular Mediterranean dish to choose from: roasted beet hummus is served with mascarpone and dry sour cherries; classic hummus gets interesting with beef bacon and crunchy onion; pesto onion hummus is dotted with crispy walnuts; and spicy hummus gets some heat from Urfa pepper and arugula. This is a comfortable place to be vegetarian; Elia offers grape leaves stuffed with rice and pine nuts in a yogurt sauce; dried eggplant and pepper dolmas; and roasted cauliflower with medjool dates and harissa sauce. If you have meat on the mind, you might prefer the rack of lamb with Einkorn risotto and glazed shallots; beef braised in red wine with wheat berries, Brussels sprouts and tamarind; or the beef tenderloin with vegetables, both grilled.
1938 W. Division Street, Chicago
Land & Lake in Rosemont is the fourth iteration of LM Restaurant Groups Land & Lake concept, which focuses on local ingredients used in dishes that will likely appeal to all members of the family. This newest Land & Lake in Rosemont is now open in the “newly reimagined” Holiday Inn & Staybridge Suites in Rosemont.
Land & Lake Rosemont serves guests in a 92-seat dining room, a 62-seat patio area and a 50-seat private dining room. Chicago artist Jason Brammer has created a mural of Rosemont’s iconic water tower on the restaurant’s whitewashed brick walls. The dining room offers both high and low banquette seating as well as a variety of tables along the wall of windows overlooking the patio. The menu features many casual dishes, and although there is a fried fish sandwich, entrees tend toward the “land,” like the grilled pork chop and the steak frites.
6600 N. Mannheim, Rosemont
Bad Habit in Logan Square puts cocktails center stage in a “minimalist-meets-industrialist space” that shares a kitchen with Stay Café, a new breakfast-brunch-gourmet coffee spot right next door. Located near Concord Music Hall, Bad Habit offers a cool one-two punch for dinner and a show. Nightclub and venue operator Nick Karounos has big plans to revive the whole Milwaukee Avenue block, which like many urban zones has recently struggled with vacancies. “We really wanted to create something that was neighborhood-focused,” says Karounos, “that offered something for everybody, and also concepts that were different but had synergies between them.”
In addition to “sinfully delicious drinks” including the intriguing Nothing Good Happens after Midnight — rye whiskey, St. Germain, maple syrup, lemon — Bad Habit has some promising food options including ham and cheese arancini with truffle mushroom cream, burrata honeydew salad with watermelon vinaigrette and, of course, a smash burger.
2047 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
Ramsay’s Kitchen — and yes, that’s celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay — opened on May 30 in Naperville. “Bringing Ramsay’s Kitchen to Naperville allows us to share some of my favorite dishes from my career and highlight cuisines from my travels around the world with locals and visitors to the area. The restaurant’s team and I are also thrilled to immerse ourselves in the warmth of the Midwest. Great food brings people together, and we can’t wait to welcome guests into the restaurant and become part of this great community,” said the famous chef.
Several of Ramsay’s signature dishes are on the all-day menu at Ramsay’s Kitchen. From Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips — with locations in Chicago, Vegas and other cities — comes fish & chips with crisp Atlantic haddock, triple-cooked chips, Gordon’s tartar sauce, and from Gordon Ramsay Burger, we have two smashed patties on a brioche bun, with caramelized onions, American cheese, and giardiniera — a pleasant Chicago touch!
39 W. Jefferson Avenue, Naperville
Smoque Steak is the newest carne-centric restaurant from Barry Sorkin and his crew, who are also behind the perennially popular Smoque BBQ. Billing itself as “a different kind of steakhouse,” Smoque Steak does away with the conventional formality of a steakhouse and provides a place where lovers of grilled meat can convene in a casual and comfortable atmosphere — doing so, of course, with superior steak. Writing in the Tribune, Louise Chu found Sorkin’s steak to be “remarkably tender … cooked perfectly medium-rare, within a beautifully seared crust, indeed infused with smoke flavor.”
At Smoque Steak, the meat is first smoked lightly over oak, low and slow, before a sous vide bath — to ensure perfect edge-to-edge “doneness” — and a quick sear in a cast iron skillet followed by basting with garlic butter. The steaks include all the greatest red meat hits — USDA ribeye, filet, New York strip — and the sides show clever twists on the classics, like creamed shishito spinach and bourbon chipotle carrots. For those not in the mood for steak, there are chicken and salmon options, and some salads, but really, Smoque Steak is made for those who crave red meat.
3310 N. Elston Avenue, Chicago
Prism Games Chicago in Andersonville wants to be your source for board and role play games that celebrate diversity, inclusion and alternative lifestyles. DePaul grad and owner Cullen Clancy told Block Club Chicago, “A lot of board games are lacking in that representation, or if it has that representation, it’s not always culturally sensitive or accurate. I’m seeing a push toward [inclusivity], and I’m hoping to follow that trend and support that trend with what I buy.”
So, what are some game titles you might find on the shelves at Prism Games Chicago? Well, there’s Spirit Island, which pits players against colonizers, and Rapa Nui, centered around Easter Island where Pacific Islanders build monumental structures — like the huge heads that made the island famous. Thirsty Sword Lesbians is an adventure-romance game, and like most of the games, is available for purchase. There are tables in the back of the store where people can play for $5 a day — and for free on Sundays!
2874 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Market, the well-known and highly regarded Italian American grocery store that started in 1957 on Harlem in Elmwood Park, continues to open new locations, most recently in Mount Prospect. “Few words can express the excitement the community feels about the opening of Caputo’s Fresh Market in Mount Prospect,” said Mayor Paul Wm. Hoefert. “We welcome them to the community and are thrilled to have them as part of our growing and thriving downtown.”
Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets are known for stocking an abundance of produce and Italian foods, including many varieties of sausage, bread, cheese, and many, many olives, much of it value priced. The Mount Prospect location will be somewhat more focused and smaller in size than other Caputo’s outposts, but any items not available in the store can be ordered at Caputo’s website and picked up the same day. This new location will also include a European-style Bar Angelo where customers can purchase coffee and liquor to sustain them as they shop.
207 S. Maple Street, Mount Prospect
More From Better:
- 30 of The Best Things to Do in Chicago and Around the Suburbs in June 2023
- 16 Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Patios in Chicago and the North Shore
- Q&A: Director Francesca Zambello on Bringing the Timeless Tale of ‘West Side Story’ to Lyric Opera of Chicago
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.