As we look forward to — or tremble at the very thought of — the colder months, here are some cool new places to dine, shop, and just chill.
Food & Drink
Executive Chef Jordan Dominguez tells Better “I’ve been serving sushi for 14 years, and I can tell you, dry-aging fish in our cooler intensifies the flavor; it’s just incredibly delicious.” We tried some 16-day dry-aged bluefin tuna and found it dense with delectable, savory flavor. The owner of Sushi Boutique, Erika London, told Dominguez she “wanted a place her girlfriends could come and chat, have some delicious, sustainable sushi, and maybe a drink.” Dominguez is working to make his new restaurant, a sister to Sushi Suite 202, a place where everyone will be comfortable with familiar favorites as well as some more creative takes on the sushi tradition.
1244 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago
By day, The Fromagerie at the warm, old world Uvae Kitchen and Wine Bar is a cheese, wine and charcuterie shop focusing on local products; by night, The Fromagerie becomes a tasting room and local events space. Owner/sommelier/ educator Lindsey Anderson says she’s committed to an inclusive environment where learning about wine is unpretentious and fun. Sommelier-led tastings are held every Wednesday and Saturday, and guest winemaker dinners will be monthly.
5553 N. Clark St., Chicago
Cinnaholic’s hand-crafted rolls, cakes and other baked items are dairy/egg/lactose-free, as well as 100% vegan. Cinnaholic is a breath of fresh air (and a big bite of deliciousness) for those with allergies or other dietary restrictions, as well as for those who simply favor well-made baked goods. You may have seen Cinnaholic co-founders Shannon and Florian Radke on Shark Tank, when they were offered investment dollars… and then turned it all down to pursue a franchise business model. Coming soon, owner Phillip Morales told Better, “We’re working with a local rabbi, and soon we’ll also be offering Kosher items.”
1596 Sherman Ave. Evanston
Kitchen + Kocktails is all about “dynamic comfort food,” which means they’ll be serving familiar favorites like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, waffles, and other Southern classics, but “with a twist.” Kelley has said that “We hope to offer an all-encompassing culinary experience that makes Chicagoans feel as if the South was delivered to the beautiful Windy City.” There will be a robust cocktail program, featuring Black-owned brands that you might not be able to get elsewhere in the city.
444 N. Wabash, Chicago
New from the James Beard award-winning Boka Group, Alla Vita — “to life” — offers a casual, family-style menu of fresh and delicious Italian food, simply prepared using the highest-quality ingredients. In the kitchen is Chef Lee Wolen, who has made a name for himself as one of the most outstanding chefs in the United States. Beverage pairings with Wolen’s creations are drawn from an 80+ bottle wine cellar and cocktail program.
564 W. Randolph St, Chicago
A café bistro and bar brasserie, Pomeroy in Winnetka upholds the French tradition of laid back yet sophisticated dining. With perennial favorites like escargot and onion soup, Pomeroy also titillates the palate with creative takes on the Gallic tradition with creations like Mousse Parfait (foie gras, black cherry, crème Chantilly) and a Burger Royale (with caramelized onion, butterkäse, dill pickles and remoulade). This is a French-forward dining experience that will please Francophiles as well as those just becoming accustomed to French cuisine.
844 Spruce St., Winnetka
Entre Sueños — “between dreams” — is headed up by Chef Stephen Sandoval, formerly Executive Chef at Rick Bayless’ Leña Brava. Dinner begins with an “interactive food cart” before moving on to what’s described as a “playful yet intimate 14-seat ticketed dining experience” featuring Latin- and Mediterranean-influenced small plates. Chef Sandoval told us “I bring to the table all my travels, starting in Mexico,” and he describes his cuisine as Baja Mediterranean,” which might be a new category to us. According to Tock, the site where you buy tickets for Entre Sueñnos, Baja-Med is a “new-age cuisine emerging from Baja, which is known for its freedom, and which allows Chefs to integrate personal and multi-cultural influences.” Entre Sueños is currently a pop-up at 4042 N. Pulaski, but Sandoval is looking for investors… and he’s hoping for a brick-and-mortar location in the not-too-distant future. Chicago
You probably knew it as Restoration Hardware, with a flagship location on the Gold Coast. Now, RH in the Gallery at Oak Brook Center continues the tradition of sourcing and curating hard-to-find and high-quality home furnishings. This new “integrated hospitality experience” includes a glass-enclosed Rooftop Restaurant and Wine Bar that looks out over a landscaped park, all designed to enhance your enjoyment of shopping for furniture and other luxe furnishings for the home.
The Gallery at Oak Brook Center
Cooler weather means more time indoors, but you can hold onto the green beauty of warmer weather with plants from the Plant Shop Evanston, a joint venture from Backlot Coffee and Plant Shop Chicago. With retail space full of houseplants of all kinds — including tropicals, succulents and cacti — you can festoon your space with foliage… and maybe try to forget that the nights are getting longer (P.S., a cup of hot java from Backlot Coffee will also provide warm comfort during those cold days).
1549 Sherman Ave., Evanston
Woodland Grove Photography Studio and Gallery combines a 4,500-square-foot fine art photography gallery with studio classes for every level of photographic expertise. You can even work to upgrade your Instagram photo stream with a complementary iPhone Photography mini-class that the studio explains “will transform your iPhone photos from blah to brilliant.” Owner and professional photographer Tobin Fraley told Better, “Someone asked me the other day why a 70-year-old is starting a new business and if it’s just a hobby. The answer I gave is ‘Because I’m a delusional 25-year-old at heart and NO, this is not a hobby.’”
169 N. Archer Ave, Mundelein
Kohler, the global leader in plumbing products, presents a newly redesigned and expanded Kohler Waters Spa in Burr Ridge. With over 14,000 square feet, 21 treatment rooms and a Mediterranean-style café, this updated spa experience also offers state-of-the-art Kohler Vichy Showers for exclusive hydrotherapy. Kohler Waters Spa is built upon the Kohler company’s deep knowledge of water’s healing powers, their experience with high-performance technology, and, of course, their well-known commitment to gracious hospitality.
775 Village Center Dr., Burr Ridge
More from Better:
- 31 of the Best Things to Do This October in Chicago and the Suburbs
- The Joffrey Ballet Holds a Luncheon to Celebrate the Iconic Christmas Ballet, The Nutcracker
- First Look at the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival: ‘The French Dispatch’ and ‘King Richard’, plus ‘Belfast’ with a Tribute to Sir Kenneth Branagh
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.