A Nigerian Bakery Launches in Bucktown and Three More Openings

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2023 has begun and winter is here, and as the cold days drag on, Chicago’s hospitality industry must wrangle with the challenge of luring patrons out of their cozy homes. Fortunately for the city, its chefs and restaurateurs are rising to the occasion and unveiling compelling new establishments all over town. The following are just some of the restaurants that have opened — or reopened — their dining rooms, patios, and takeout windows. It will be updated periodically.

Know of a restaurant back open? Email chicago@eater.com with details so they can be included when this post is next updated.

January 6

Bucktown: Joba Foods & Bakery, a new bakery that specializes in Agege bread (a soft, sweet Nigerian bread), pastries, and cookies, launched in mid-December on Western Avenue next door to poultry specialist the Art of Chicken, according to an Instagram post. Other offerings include creamy chicken puffs, meat pies, scones, and cinnamon rolls. Joba Foods & Bakery, 2039 N. Western Avenue, Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Irving Park: A new board games cafe serving Puerto Rican cuisine, coffee, cocktails, and beer is open at 3932 W. Irving Park Road with more than 500 games to choose from, according to Block Club Chicago. Stay and Play Game Cafe is co-owned by spouses Jose and Yesenia Maldonado, game aficionados who purchased and renovated the building that previously housed Independence Tap. Menu items include jibaritos, maduros, tostones con ropa vieja, and more. Patrons can also pair their gameplay with drinks like rum punch, Cuba Libres, and Hot Papis (hot toddies with spiced rum). Stay tuned for more on this opening. Stay and Play Game Cafe, 3932 W. Irving Park Road, Open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight Friday; 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Ravenswood: Vegan and gluten-free pastry brand Mindful Baking opened a cafe in late 2022 after eight years of wholesale operations out of a commercial kitchen, according to Block Club Chicago. Owner Diane Mejia crowdfunded more than $16,000 for the project on Kickerstarter and is now offering a weekly rotating menu of delights including doughnuts, cupcakes, and pies. Mindful Baking Cafe, 1942 W. Montrose Avenue, Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

The Loop: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the Louisiana-based fast food chain known for a loyal fanbase of “Caniacs,” will open a new flagship location on Tuesday across from Millennium Park at 2 N. Michigan Avenue, according to a rep. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant will be the second of its kind in the country (the first opened in 2022 on the Las Vegas Strip) with special Chicago-themed decor such as a table shaped like the Bean, the sculpture formally known as Cloud Gate. Raising Cane’s first entered the Chicago market in 2017 and opened its first city outpost a year later near Loyola University in Rogers Park. Raising Cane’s Michigan & Madison, 2 N. Michigan Avenue, Scheduled to open Tuesday, January 10.

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