Hot New Restaurants in Chicago: Nonnina

Nonnina's Cannelloni (Photo by Galdones Photography.)

The thrill of the new … it never gets old! Chicago and the north suburbs continue to impress with a slew of spring and summer openings, and more notables on the fall horizon. No wonder we’re an eating destination! It’s time to expand your to-do list.


Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Arbella

Photo courtesy of Arbella.

The folks that brought you Tanta, that River North bastion of Peruvian cool, have expanded their reach to pretty much the whole globe with this newest offering. An on-point cocktail menu, groovy vibe and international small plates. Opened in May 2016. 112 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-344-1673

Duck Duck Goat 

Stephanie Izard and her partners at the Boka Restaurant Group hit another one out of the park with DDG, the toughest ticket in town. This is her vision of a Chinese restaurant, and her staff is making hand-pulled “slap” noodles daily, along with juicy soup dumplings, BBQ pork buns, shrimp toast and more. Natch, there are some goat-centric dishes available on the daily menu. Opened in April 2016. 857 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, 312-902-DUCK.


Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Giant

Photo by Anthony Tahlier.

Logan Square has anxiously awaited the opening of Jason Vincent’s (Nightwood) restaurant return (a previous Food & Wine Best New Chef, he took time off to help with his two kids). This is seasonally driven, instantly craveable food, and it’s bound to be scrumptious. Opened July 1. 3209 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 773-252-0997

Imperial Lamian

Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Imperial Lamian

Imperial Lamian’s Ramen (Photo by Jeff Schear Photography.)

River North’s Chinese-food game has officially been stepped up. The open kitchen allows you to watch the namesake lamian noodles as they are hand-pulled into perfection. Enjoy them in a rich and spicy pork broth, redolent of black garlic and truffle oil and filled with minced pork and exotic mushrooms; or perhaps wok-fried with plump tiger shrimp. Don’t miss the Jasmine Tea-Smoked Ribs or the BBQ London Duck. Opened in March 2016. 6 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, 312-595-9440

Leña Brava and Cruz Blanca

Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Lena Brava

Lena Brava’s Black Cod al Pastor (Photo courtesy of Lena Brava.)

It’s a family affair in the West Loop at Rick Bayless’ newest offerings, where daughter Lainie Bayless runs the front of the house. Leña Brava has a Baja-centric menu where everything cooked is kissed by open flame; next door is Cruz Blanca, with in-house craft beer coming soon, and killer tacos. Opened in May 2016. 900 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-733-1975

Mesa Urbana

Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Mesa Urbana

Mesa Urbana’s Scallops With Acorn Squash (Photo courtesy of Mesa Urbana.)

As the name implies, there’s a modern urban feel to this hot new Mexican restaurant in Northbrook. Owned by Moe Taleb (of critical darling Kith & Kin, now closed), this is Mexican with a contemporary twist. People are lining up for the hand-crafted margaritas and cocktails, all made with fresh juices. The menu makes ample use of super-fresh ingredients (try the Watermelon-Beet Salad with Tequila Vinaigrette, or Salmon al Carbon with Caramelized Mango, Green Papaya and Avocado Crème Fraîche). City style, suburban convenience. Opened in March 2016. 3566 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, 847-383-0700


Chef Tony Priolo closed Piccolo Sogno Due earlier this year, and has reopened it as Nonnina, a restaurant where the food is inspired by the Italian nonnas (grandmothers) of Priolo and his partners Ciro Longobardo and Chris Macchia. The atmosphere may be sleek, but the food has a retro vibe and a reasonable price tag. The pastas are made in-house and are not to be missed. Opened in June 2016. 340 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-822-0077


Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Oriole

Photo courtesy of Oriole.

Chicago’s newest fine-dining experience, courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Noah Sandoval (of the late, lamented, and astoundingly gluten-free Senza), is hiding in an obscure corner of the West Loop. For $175 per person (plus tax, tip and beverages), you’ll be blown away by the elegance and flavor of his 16-course menu, including four from pastry chef Genie Kwon. Opened in March 2016. 661 W. Walnut St., Chicago, 312-877-5339

Robert’s Pizza Company

Robert Garvey has a pizza obsession, and that’s to our benefit. A New Yorker-turned-Chicagoan who’s spent the past 15 years perfecting his crust recipe, Garvey recently received his Pizzaioli certificate from the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, so you know he’s dead serious. Toppings range from the run-of-the-mill but tasty (pepperoni, three cheese) to the gourmet (Brussels sprouts and applewood-smoked bacon with smoked mozzarella and dates) to the fanciful (roasted duck with plums, hoisin sauce and Sichuan peppercorns). Opened in April 2016. 355 E. Ohio St., 312-222-0905


The newest from the Alinea/Next/Aviary folk (Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas), the pricing here is surprisingly attainable — assuming you don’t order a steak, or the shellfish stew for a crowd — although a table, of course, is not. But if you want to try, their bespoke Tock reservation system will let you choose a la carte ($20 per person, credited to your bill), the family-style chef’s tasting menu for 2–4 people at the kitchen counter ($85-95 per person), or the chef’s tasting menu in the downstairs prep kitchen for 2–6 people ($85-95 per person). Opened in April 2016. 951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago

Urban Belly

Wicker Park is now home to this location of Bill Kim’s yummy Asian street-food emporium, where potstickers are stuffed with sweet potato, noodles can be topped with an “Asian Bolognese” or Lemongrass Chicken, and the desserts are Kim’s take on soft serve (topped with soy caramel, or PB&J-style) and addictive mini donuts, glazed with maple and dusted with Vietnamese cinnamon. Opened in April 2016. 1542 N. Damen, Chicago, 773-904-8606

The Whiskey Thief

Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Whiskey Thief

Photo by Marcin Cymmer.

Evanston’s latest eatery is named for a distiller’s tool for sampling whiskey from the barrel; not surprisingly, they have a well-researched and impressive list of whiskeys to choose from. The menu is short, but you’ll find good burgers, fantastic poutine, and some tasty entrees, notably the Salmon with Bulgur and Tarragon Aioli and the Pan-Roasted Half Chicken with Charred Knob Onions and Marinated Kale. If you don’t like sports or TVs, you may want to look elsewhere, literally and figuratively. There are 10 big-screen TVs to distract you from your two fingers of 21-year-old Orphan Barrel Rhetoric. Opened in June 2016. 616 Davis St., Evanston, 847-859-2342

Coming Attractions!

Keep an eye out for the following places on our radar:

Revival Food Hall

Chicago's Hot New Restaurants: Revival Food Hall

Revival Food Hall Tenant Sampler (Photo courtesy of Revival Food Hall.)

The Loop’s classic National Building is getting a makeover with this highly anticipated 24,000-square-foot gourmet food hall from the guys behind Longman & Eagle and Dusek’s. Look for stalls with familiar names: Antique Taco, Furious Spoon, Union Squared Pizza (a Detroit-style pizza from Evanston’s Union Pizzeria peeps) and Farmer’s Fridge salads have already been announced. Watch out, French Market! Opening in late July. 125 S. Clark St., Chicago

Taco Diablo/Lulu’s/Five & Dime

Dan and Laura Kelch are back after a devastating fire destroyed the original Taco Diablo, and opening just across the street. This time, it’s a three-fer, with longtime Evanston fave Lulu’s Dim Sum also reopening in the new location, as well as a new bar concept, the Five & Dime. Opening in early July. 1026 Davis St., Evanston, 847-868-8229


Do you have a favorite new restaurant we missed? Share your new go-to spot in the comments below!

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