If you thought the West Loop restaurant scene had hit its height at the end of last year with the opening of Bill Kim's Korean barbecue restaurant Belly Q and Curtis Duffy's elegant fine-dining destination Grace, you'd be mistaken. This neighborhood already well-known for its restaurants—from Randolph Street classics such as Avec and Blackbird to Grant Achatz's ever-evolving Next to breakfast staple Ina's—has only become more so in the last year. With the members-only Soho House in the works on Green Street and rumors of Rick Bayless sniffing around for restaurant space in the West Loop, neighborhood development shows no signs of slowing down. Consider this your cheat sheet to new restaurants opened within the last few months as well as in-the-works projects set to debut into next year. email@example.com
802 W. Randolph St. 312-929-2555
At this month-old restaurant in the address that was formerly tapas spot Pasha, former Saigon Sisters chef Matt Eversman cooks up his own elegant, flavorful spins on traditional Southeast Asian dishes such as green papaya salad, udon and spring rolls.
116 N. Aberdeen St. 312-344-1784
New to the neighborhood in May, this weekday lunch counter and food truck hub from The Salsa Truck owner Dan Salls features dishes from his truck as well as chefs from fellow trucks—such as newly licensed Husky Hog Bar-B-Que--that park for the day and collaborate with him. Coming-soon additions include breakfast hours starting next week and afternoon visits from food trucks to fill the void after the kitchen has sold out of the day's offerings.
West Loop Salumi
1111 W. Randolph St. 312-255-7004
This salumi shop from Gregory Laketek and Jesse Katzman sells its cured meats wholesale and opened for retail sales in late July. They specialize in hand-made Italian-style dry-cured meats; spend a few minutes eyeing the offerings and they'll teach you the difference between finocchiona (salami with fennel pollen) and culatello (ham seasoned with salt and pepper and wine). Laketek readily admits that the current hours—11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday—are "peculiar," but expect expanded hours in a few weeks with the debut of outdoor tables perfect for kicking back with a board of meats, cheeses, breads and olives.
Cone Gourmet Ice Cream
1047 W. Madison St. 312-555-5111
While the façade of this charming ice cream parlor is vanilla-white, the inside channels a scoop of mint-chocolate-chip with a brown and green paint job. Indulge in soft-serve as well as hand-scooped flavors such as butter-pecan and cake batter. When your order is up, take it to-go or park it on the sideyard patio set with benches and a picnic table.
Kabocha Japanese Brasserie
952 W. Lake St. 312-666-6214
Former Bonsoiree chef Shin Thompson has been channeling his French training and Japanese roots into inventive dishes at this restaurant since mid-April. Thanks to small, medium and large plates and three different settings in which to enjoy them—the sushi bar, cocktail bar and dining room—it's really a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience. P.S. The death mustard isn't as scary as it sounds.
1027 W. Madison St. 312-374-1672
The philosophy of this spacious bar and pizzeria is one we can easily hop on board with: A new home to pizza lovers, friends of whiskey and those that can appreciate the good things in life." If a glass of whiskey neat isn't your thing, try one of the classic cocktails (old fashioned, manhattan, sazerac or whiskey smash) or the namesake Old Fifth made with Four Roses bourbon plus apricot and walnut liqueurs.
Real Comfort American Kitchen
1045 W. Madison St.
This counter-service comfort food resto from former Chalkboard sous chef Ray Parker and bar veteran Benji Tomlinson is slated for a late September debut. Expect multiple variations of mac 'n' cheese and deviled eggs along with soups and hearty sandwiches such as meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.
840 W. Washington St.
This yet-to-be-named Neopolitan-style pizzeria and brewery from the LGN Group (Stout Barrel House & Galley, Cedar Hotel) is in the works for an early 2014 opening in a space with former lives as a car parts garage and gas station. Managing partner Michael Bisbee is planning on weekend brunch, weekday lunch specials and ample outdoor seating thanks to a rooftop deck and street-level patio. LGN is also working on a counter-service sausage and beer bar (also not yet named) for a summer 2013 debut just a few blocks away at 942 N. Randolph St.
Chicago Tap House
1140 W. Madison St.
Local beers aren't the only thing that'll be on tap at this restaurant and bar serving American fare; expect liquor, champagne, wine and specialty cocktails to be a part of the draft lineup. Owner Daniel Deutscher is hoping for a November opening and is doing everything he can to incorporate the historic 117-year-old building into the look of the place, right down to the tables he handcrafted from reclaimed wood with the help of his dad.
806 W. Randolph St.
Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner of Heisler Hospitality have had smashing success teaming up with Lula Café chef Jason Vincent at Nightwood and opening Wicker Park's Trenchermen last year with the Sheerin brothers. Now they're teaming up with the owners of The Barrelhouse Flat for this casual, neighborhood hangout due to open sometime this fall.