As Chicagoans collectively blinked, the city missed spring as sticky temperatures have already made its presence felt. The feeling is actually comforting as it’s another sign of whatever passes for normal with the restaurant industry and the rest of the world attempting to recover from COVID-19. Spring saw a full slate of new restaurants debuts show promise for 2021. Now summer aims to keep the momentum going with the city and state lifting all pandemic restrictions starting on Friday, June 11.
Below are a few of Eater Chicago’s most anticipated restaurant openings for the summer. There’s a fun mix of deferred projects, new announcements, and even a revamp of a cherished fine dining restaurant. Keep reading to see what Chicago will look forward to this summer.
The restaurants are listed alphabetically.
Address: 912 N. State Street, Gold Coast
Key Players: Matt Deichl, Phil Siudak, Miles Muslin, Jonathan Gillespie, Soo Ahn
Reservations are open with a June 19 debut date for Adalina, a decadent new Italian restaurant from a budding ownership group with ties to restaurants such as Gibsons and clubs like LiqrBox. The food is from chef Soo Ahn, last seen getting rave reviews at Band of Bohemia, the Michelin-starred brewpub that closed in 2020. Adalina has many moving parts, hoping to combine a fun vibe, modern amenities, and ambitious food from Ahn and his team of collaborators.
Address: 1163 W. 18th Street, Pilsen
Key Players: Abu-Taleb family
Staffing has been the Achilles’ heel for the Alderman, a fancy cocktail lounge inside Pilsen Yards, the neighborhood bar along 18th Street that opened last year and generated plenty of buzz for its decor and tacos. The Alderman is supposed to be a more upscale spot, giving Pilsen a bar with classic cocktails with modern twists. The Alderman is set to open in early July.
Address: 1934 W. Chicago Avenue, Ukrainian Village
Key Player: Zubair Mohajir
Aman’s aim is to redefine what Chicagoans feel about Indian food through the lens of chef Zubair Mohajir, a Chicago-area native with South Indian roots. This is a BYO spot serving composed dishes such as a variation of the tandoori fried chicken Mohajir offered at this underground dinners, Wazwan Supper Club. During the day, Wazwan’s casual offerings (halal burgers, fried chicken sandwiches) will continue to be available. Mohajir is stretching his legs out at Rick Bayless’ Bar Sotano, where he’ll cook an Indo-Mexican meal with the bar’s chef, Rishi Manoj Kumar. Look for a summer opening as construction delays have pushed schedules back.
Address: 1000 W. Armitage Avenue, Lincoln Park
Key Players: Brendan Sodikoff, Hogsalt Hospitality
Over in Lincoln Park, just south of DePaul University’s main campus, the owners of Au Cheval have taken over a corner space at Armitage and Sheffield to open a gastropub. Hogsalt founder Brendan Sodikoff isn’t ready to share a menu for his new project, but he’s targeting an August opening for a strip that could use a little bit of life.
Address: 4420 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, Bronzeville
Key Players: Erik Williams, Cecilia Cuff, Anika Ellison
The South Side of Chicago, particularly Black communities, don’t have many options to sip a good glass of wine at a bar or restaurant. But the owner of the Silver Room, the iconic Hyde Park store and that’s a defacto community center supporting the Black Community, wants to change that. Erik Williams, along with urban planner Cecila Cuff, and Anika Ellison formed a dream team to bring Bronzeville a wine bar and ambitious restaurant with a chef’s counter. The trio hope to spark a neighborhood revolution, to leverage their experiences and demonstrate that the Black community is capable of supporting hospitality projects as developers have a racist history of thinking otherwise. Ellison is a rare Black woman with a sommelier’s pedigree. Cuff worked at hotels and wants to establish a strong culture that’s holistic in how it nurtures workers. Williams brings his connections and love for his community. Expect a July opening.
Address: 809 N. 2199 Road, Tonica
This summer might the ideal time for glamping as the public recovers from the pandemic. Venture to this 96-acre site in Central Illinois for luxury camping with a veteran chef in charge of the food. The ingredients are fresh from the farm with a city chef’s touch. Reservations are open for stays from August through October.
Address: 2220 N. Clark Street, Lincoln Park
Key Players: Jenner Tomaska, Katrina Bravo
Former Next Restaurant chef Jenner Tomaska hasn’t revealed any clues about the cuisine or menu that he’ll serve at his restaurant, a joint effort with wife — restaurant veteran and marketing expert Katrina Bravo. They’re searching for employees and hope to open in July. Here’s what we do know: The main dining room holds 40 and will feature a tasting menu with beverage pairings. There’s a chef’s counter and a lounge area. Esme wants to boost the arts and has enlist local artist Paul Octavious to assist. Expect a July opening with reservations opening up soon.
Address: 4020 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Portage Park
Key Players: Bobby and Brooklyn Morelli
Creative sausage upstart the Hot Dog Box debuted last summer inside a 400-square-foot shipping container in Bronzeville’s Boxville marketplace, and quickly accrued a passionate fanbase with over-the-top filet mignon, salmon, and turkey dogs crowned with sweet and savory topping and sauces . Now founder Bobby Morelli, assisted by his 9-year-old daughter Brooklyn, is at work on a stand-alone location in Portage Park. He plans to feature a larger menu than the original box, along with some rotating seasonal options. Morelli is “optimistic” that he’ll be able to open by August 1, but says it’ll be no later than September.
Address: 2200 N. California Avenue, Logan Square
Key Players: Chef Christopher Thompson, Steve Lewis (Meadowlark Hospitality)
Long-awaited all-day restaurant and cured meat hotspot Lardon is at last drawing close to a debut in the former Township space on California and Palmer. Chef Christopher Thompson (Coda di Volpe) and co-owner Steve Lewis (Centennial Crafted Brewing) aim to highlight the joys of cured meats — made on premises — along with coffee, craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Would-be diners can also expect a selection of sandwiches and a dinner menu. Exposed brick and honeycomb floor tiles imbue the space with retro charm, and a 40-seat sidewalk patio is also in the works. Lardon is now targeting a July opening.
Address: 500 N. Clark Street, River North
Key Players: José Andrés, ThinkFoodGroup
Announced back in September 2019, the first Chicago restaurant for D.C.-based celeb chef José Andrés will soon open in the space where Naha called home for years. Jaleo is the tapas restaurant with locations across America. Andrés is the the noted Spanish chef and humanitarian. It’s a solid entry for Andrés as he has bigger plans for Chicago. A spokesperson says expect a July opening date with more openings to follow.
Address: 661 W. Walnut Street, West Loop
Key Players: Cara and Noah Sandoval
Oriole was one of Chicago’s most splendid fine dining restaurants, a warm and welcoming space, something a bit unusual for a genre that sometimes struggles with having genuine fun. Oriole briefly offered barbecue for takeout during the pandemic, but chef Noah Sandoval has mostly kept the kitchen closed (he did keep busy churning out pies at Pizza Friendly Pizza in Ukrainian Village). The Sandovals have taken the time to gut their dining room and revamp the menu. When the restaurant reopens in July, the diners will see a new ceiling covered with posters from rock bands in honor of the Cara and Noah’s love of music.
Address: 400 N. State Street, River North
Key Players: DineAmic Hospitality Group
It’s finally to the point where Downtown Chicago workers can attempt to consider where to spend happy hour, and DineAmic will soon renovate Public House, one of the city’s more reliable haunts. The conversion to Radio Room is underway, and one of the design quirks is the installation of more than 100,000 twinkle lights to transform the space. DineAmic wants to more thoughtfully source ingredients for its pub menu. One of the highlights are the Freestyle Fries, crispy potato wedges with chopped up chicken fingers, three cheeses, and a Nashville hot sauce. For cocktails, they’ve broken out Donnie Darko to commit to Sparkle Motion, a drink made with edible glitter.
Address: Roosevelt Collection, 150 W. Roosevelt Road, South Loop
Key Players: David Zhao, robotic servers
The robotic invasion will still happen, as X Pot, the Chicago location of a popular Vegas Chinese restaurant has made public its most precise opening timeline since the project was announced back in September 2019. Now ownership is looking at late August for when the restaurant, known for experiential meals using art projected on walls and ceiling (and robotic servers), will finally arrive in Chicago inside the Roosevelt Collection development in South Loop.