Chicago’s Best New Restaurants: Fall 2019 Edition

Goodbye, summer. You were a bit rainy this year, though still glorious. Now it’s time to head back to reality: classes, shorter days, puffer coats. But fall also means butternut squash soup, apple crisps, your favorite scarf, and the occasional PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latté, natch) — not to mention a slew of great new restaurants that snuck in while you were at the beach, and a few more due to open soon. When life gives you cold weather, make reservations!

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1904 W. North Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Amaru
Amaru’s Frita Cubana (Photo courtesy of Amaru.)

Rodolfo Cuadros, Fulton Market stalwart Carnivale’s former executive chef, has forged off on his own to open this South American restaurant in Wicker Park. Dark woods, exposed brick, and vintage clayware lend warmth, but the food certainly brings it, too. Look for Piononos (bacon-wrapped plantains with chorizo, because two kinds of pork products are better than one), gnocchi made from starchy yuca and sauced with rabbit ragout, and the Pastel de Elote (a Mexican corn cake served with salted-popcorn ice cream). Bien provecho! (Opened July 2019)

Café Cancale

1576 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Cafe Cancale
Cafe Cancale’s Plateau (Photo courtesy of One Off Hospitality.)

Inspired by a 50th birthday trip to the west coast of Brittany, James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Kahan (Publican, Avec, Blackbird, etc.) created this Wicker Park destination bistro, filled with pristinely fresh seafood and classic-but-simple French cuisine. Belly up to the well-stocked raw bar or dig into Frites with Curry Aioli, Duck Terrine with sweet/tart cherry aigre-doux, or a deep bowl of Mussels à la Normande, sauced with white wine and crème fraîche. And their cocktail program is très forte. (Opened May 2019)

Club 77

77 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Club 77
Club 77’s Gruyere and Sauerkraut Cappelletti, Roasted Onion Broth (Photo courtesy of Club 77.)

Dream teams come in many shapes and sizes. Case in point: restaurateur Sandy Chen (Koi Evanston, Le Sud) and her executive chef, Patrick Sheerin (Trenchermen, Ace Chicago, Signature Room at the 95th), who combined forces to open this new Loop hotspot with dishes inspired by Chicago’s many diverse neighborhoods. Perfect for a business lunch (think Smoked King Salmon Tartine with Tahini, Cucumber, and Dill) or pre-theater dinner (sign me up for the Guajillo-Braised Pork Shoulder with Roasted Peach BBQ Sauce and Corn and Masa Polenta). Save room for the Coffee Crème Brûlée with Blueberry Struesel. (Opened August 2019)

Dirty Root

939 W. Randolph St., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Dirty Root
Dirty Root’s Assorted Bowls (Photo by Sandy Noto.)

If you’re looking for more health-conscious fare, consider this: Dirty Root believes in clean food devoid of refined sugar, industrial vegetable and seed oils, and GMOs (obviously), but all while maintaining the deliciousness. Customize your food bowl with a base of either ancient grains, farmer’s greens, or a cauliflower/cremini crumble, pick a protein (ghee-roasted chicken thighs, harissa-spiced pork meatballs, sweet potato/chickpea falafel, or sustainably caught salmon), a few sides (summer cabbage slaw, za’atar-spiced carrots, kale caesar with vegan parmesan, etc.), and a dressing/sauce (the ginger-turmeric-cilantro vinaigrette sounds like a winner). Be prepared to feel good about yourself, and repeat. (Opened June 2019)

Good Fortune

2528 N. California Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Good Fortune
Photo by Jacquelyn Trezzo.

It’s a crowded food scene in Logan Square, but they happily made just enough room — it only seats 44 diners — for this Mediterranean-inspired winner from Out to Lunch Hospitality and chef/partner Charles Welch (Sepia, mk Restaurant). I sense a real date-night vibe here, aided and abetted by the sexy, umami-laden menu (I’m looking at you, Black Garlic rigatoni with smoked maitake mushroom conserva … and you, too, Head-On Prawns with black lentils and morçilla sausage!) that’s sure to move things along in the right direction. (Opened August 2019)

Paulette’s Public Market

1221 W. 18th St., Chicago

If you’re looking for a vibrant neighborhood market that specializes in all the good things in life, you’ve come to the right place. Chef Amada Torres (Dusek’s, Promontory) knows how to build a sandwich that’s downright addictive, like the Portobello Mushroom Melt with pickled onions, roasted Brussels sprouts, Swiss cheese, and roasted garlic aioli on chewy ciabatta. Pair that with a cup of her Carrot Ginger Curry and lunch is squared away. There are plenty of grab-and-go options to help you get a head start on dinner, too, or to pick up on your way to Thalia Hall next door. Time to head over to Pilsen. (Opened August 2019)


401 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

San Soo BBQ wasn’t long for the River West neighborhood, but Perilla has stepped in with another take on Korean-American food. You’ll still find grill tables, but chef Andrew Lim and his friend and partner Tom Oh go beyond the standard bulgogi and dumplings (although you’ll certainly find those on the menu as well). Look for Korean Fried Chicken, marinated and grilled Spicy Gulf Shrimp, and Kimchi Stew with pork belly, sticky rice cakes, and glass noodles. The Feast is a great option to taste your way around the menu. (Opened August 2019)

Ramen-San Deluxe

165 E. Huron St., Chicago

This new Streeterville location combines the best offerings of two out-of-the-box hits from Lettuce Entertain you: Ramen-san and Sushi-san. What does that really mean? Bottom line, you can order Miso Matzo Ball Ramen AND an Avocado Tempura Make Roll at the same meal, and I’m not mad about that at all. (Opened September 2019)

Reprise Coffee Roasters

710 Main St., Evanston

New Chicago Restaurants: Reprise Coffee Roasters
Photo courtesy of Reprise Coffee.

The original Winnetka location opened in 2015, but Southeast Evanston is a whole new frontier. They roast their own award-winning coffees, focusing on sustainable sources. They’ve got some unique beverages on the menu, including some lovely seasonal lemonades, a turmeric-ginger elixir, matcha lattés, and a damn fine cup of coffee. Pair any of the above with a selection of Hewn pastries and you’ve got a winning combo and the perfect way to start your day. (Opened August 2019)

St. Clair Supper Club

951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: St. Clair Supper Club
St. Clair Supper Club’s Grasshopper Pie (Photo by Allen Hemberger.)

Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz have done it again, this time with a retro Wisconsin supper club located downstairs from the always-packed Roister. The menu is limited to a handful of appetizers (Spun Caesar Salad, Classic Shrimp Cocktail, Crispy Crab Cakes, Oysters Rockefeller), classic sides (creamed spinach, creamed corn, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes), and four cuts of Prime Rib — served only medium rare — with a few sauces to choose as add-ons at $2 a pop. Each night there’s a special, ranging from Roast Pork to a Friday Fish Fry. Don’t expect Lake Delavan pricing, but the quality is exceptional. (Opened July 2019)


720 N. State St., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Tzuco
Tzuco’s Tamales (Photo by Diego Padilla.)

Michelin-starred chef Carlos Gaytan (Mexique) is back in Chicago, and we couldn’t be more excited. Tzuco, the first of his three separate dining experiences to open this year (Tales of Carlos Gaytan, an intimate chef’s tasting room, and the fast-casual Panango are slated to open later this fall), seats 110 guests in an awe-inspiring design reflecting Gaytan’s home town of Huitzuco, Mexico. Expect bright and citrusy ceviches, rich stews, aromatic spices, and deep flavors. (Opened September 2019)


3472 N. Elston Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Wherewithall
Photo by Cory Dewald.

Avondale’s much-honored and adored Parachute has a new little sibling! James Beard Award-winners Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark have opened Wherewithall just a block from their original restaurant, making it easy for them to shuttle back and forth. Each night finds a different ingredient-focused set menu at a very reasonable price — $65 for four courses, plus a number of little surprises along the way. (Opened August 2019)

On the Horizon 

Avli River North

702 N. Wells St., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Avli River North
Avli River North’s Kataifi Prawns (Photo by Kailley Lindman.)

Louie Alexakis is at it again! His third restaurant (after Winnetka’s Avli Estiatorio and Avli Taverna in Lincoln Park) will open in the old Sumi Robata Bar space in River North. (Opening late September/early October)

Centre Street Kitchen

1224 W. Webster Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Centre Street Kitchen
Centre Street Kitchen’s Pôt de Crème (Photo by Leigh Loftus.)
Billed as “The Nation’s First Positivity Restaurant,” this Lincoln Park spot will feature globally inspired cuisine from Executive Chef Monica Riley (Hopleaf, LOKaL), but more importantly, creates an experience that celebrates optimism and embraces community. Guests will be able to participate by adding a name to the donation wall commemorating cancer warriors. Owner Erik Baylis, himself a cancer survivor, hopes to raise over $7 million for the nonprofit Never Had a Bad Day over the next few years. A noble cause, certainly, and here’s hoping that they meet that mark!

Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar

2165 N. Western Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Chef's Special Cocktail Bar
Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar’s Opening Team (Photo by Galdones Photography.)

The crazy-successful Giant team (Jason Vincent, Ben Lustbader, Josh Perlman) will feature American-Chinese food and, as the name indicates, strong and tasty adult beverages at their new Bucktown venture. (Opening late fall)


521 N. Rush St., Chicago

If you’re like me, you miss the late, lamented Naha. Never fear! James Beard Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian and her cousin Michael will open their newest resto on the fifth floor of River North’s Gwen Hotel and all will be well with the world. Word on the street is that it will spotlight the food of Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. (Opening in October)

Moody Tongue Taproom and Brewery

2515 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago

New Chicago Restaurants: Moody Tongue Brewery
Photo courtesy of Moody Tongue.

Moody Tongue is uprooting and expanding their taproom from Pilsen to the Near South Side, and they’ve recruited Michelin-starred chef Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s, Mordecai) to up their cuisine game. There will be both the intimate Dining Room showcasing Wentworth’s hyper-seasonal cuisine in a 12-course tasting menu with beer pairings, and The Bar, a much more casual spot with elevated bar food. (Opening late fall)


1600 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

From the Bonhomme Group (Celeste, Black Bull, Beatnik) comes this West Town ode to the Atlantic fishing villages of Spain and Portugal. Chef Marcos Campos’ menu will feature fish and other proteins cooked over an open flame. (Opening late fall)

Julie Chernoff, 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 Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and counts Northlight Theatre and Les Dames d’Escoffier International as two of her favorite nonprofits.




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