New in Town: 8 Chicago-Area Foodie Destinations to Check Out Now

New in Town: 8 Chicago-Area Foodie Destinations You Need to Know About

From Detroit-style square pizza and gourmet hot dogs to restaurant-caliber movie theater dining and yet another Loop food hall, these are latest new foodie destinations we’re checking out in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.


302 N. Green St., 3rd Floor, Chicago, 773-645-1400

Chicago Restaurants: Aba
Photo by Christina Slaton.

Chef CJ Jacobson and Lettuce Entertain You hit it big together with River North’s Ema; in June, lightning struck twice with the opening of Aba in the Fulton Market/West Loop. Here, you’ll find meat with a Mediterranean accent, from Skirt Steak Shawarma to Slow-Braised Leg of Lamb Wrapped in Eggplant, but still plenty of mezze options for a vegetarian to love.

CMX VIP Cinema Experience

4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, 847-805-1022

Chicago Restaurants and Foodie Destinations: CMX Cinebistro
Photo courtesy of CMX Cinemas.

Dinner and a movie just went in a whole new direction at Westfield Old Orchard. The CMX Cinebistro offers restaurant-quality food in an adults-only atmosphere, complete with stylish cocktail bar and menu items from pan-seared salmon to grilled Allen Brothers steak, all brought to your super-deluxe, full-recline seat. Kids in tow? Head to the CMX Market to grab freshly made pizzas, poutine, sandwiches, and milkshakes before the show.

Duck Inn Dogs

Revival Food Hall, 125 S. Clark St., Chicago

Award-winning chef Kevin Hickey (Bridgeport’s The Duck Inn) is serving up his house-made hot dogs and French fries in winning combinations at this pop-up restaurant, like the bacon-wrapped Frankenduckie with jalapeño relish and Wisconsin cheese sauce, or the crispy Elote Fries with lime crema, tajin mustard, and queso fresco. Wash it down with “Hot Dog Water,” their beer collab with Illuminated Brew Works.

Frìo Gelato

5152 N Clark St., Chicago

Andersonville will welcome the newest outpost of Evanston’s artisanal Argentine gelateria in September. Inspired by the frozen treats of their Buenos Aires childhood, owners Karla and Sebastiàn Koziura have created more than two dozen flavors, including dulce de leche, malbec with berries, and avocado, which are served in freshly made waffle cones. Try the gelato sandwiched between two tender alfajores, a classic Argentine cookie.


1303 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, 773-293-7412

Uptown’s vegan favorite Kal’ish got some company with the July opening of Longacre and Longacre Pizza Squared, testimony to owners Gina and Andy Kalish’s commitment to the neighborhood’s revitalization. Detroit-style square pizza (laden with real cheese, although vegan versions are available) is the heart of the menu, but don’t overlook the locally made pastas and fresh salads.

Pacific Standard Time

141 W. Erie St., Chicago, 312-736-1778

River North is abuzz with the May opening of this California-centric stunner helmed by chef Erlin Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria) in partnership with the James Beard Award-winning One Off Hospitality group. Much of the menu is cooked in two wood-fueled ovens, including a hefty Slagel Family Farm ribeye, fresh pita bread, and some of pastry chef Natalie Saben’s (Grace) miraculous sweets.


581 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 847-926-3441

There have been some changes on the Highland Park restaurant scene. Merlo’s is gone, and in its place is another Italian restaurant, this one with a Chicago pedigree and hands-on owners, Lori and Larry Slavin. The meatball salad and brick chicken you love from the downtown location are stars of the suburban menu as well, and the pastas, including a hearty orecchiette with sausage, escarole, and beans, make a good impression.

Wells Street Market

205 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago, 312-614-4176

The Loop gained another food hall — they’re all the rage these days — in June when this Wacker Drive spot opened for business. You’ll find doughnuts from Firecakes; the most highly pedigreed gyros you’ll ever have (courtesy of The Purple Pig’s chef Jimmy Bannos Jr.) at Piggie Smalls; slurpable ramen at the seemingly ubiquitous Furious Spoon; massive specialty sammies at Pork & Mindy’s; and more.

New in Town is an ongoing bulletin on new businesses and restaurants in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. To be considered for future listings, email [email protected].


Because You’re Not the Only One Who’s Hungry…

We hope you’ll get the chance to check out all of these incredible restaurants, but the next time you do, take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be able to enjoy such fabulous food. Feed your stomach, then your soul by paying forward your good fortune and supporting one of these food-centric nonprofits.

Julie Chernoff, Make It Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz ScaggsRick Bayless and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and sits on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and Northlight Theatre. She and husband Josh are empty nesters since adult kids Adam and Leah have flown the coop. Rosie the Cockapoo relishes the extra attention.