From steakhouses to a big fusion opening in the suburbs, decorative gourd season delivers
Chicago’s about to enter decorative gourd season, and there are some new restaurants to look forward to trying. Supply chain and staffing have caused chaos for opening timelines, so restaurant owners are preaching patience. Still, there’s a good mix of independent projects and new restaurants from larger groups this fall. A wide array of sources in the industry — from restaurant operators, to workers, to public relations reps — say they sense that 2023 will bring more opening announcements. This is the response as the American economy shrinks and teeters on the brink of a recession — depending on which analysts you ask.
Read on below to find Eater Chicago’s most anticipated restaurant openings for the fall.
Address: 1400 W. Randolph Street, West Loop
Key players: Daniel Alonso and Bonhomme Hospitality
With nine Chicago restaurants and bars under its belt, Bonhomme Hospitality has garnered a passionate fanbase with opulently designed escapism-themed spots including Beatnik and Porto in West Town, and Mama Delia in Wicker Park. Founder Daniel Alonso is now preparing to unveil a pair of new entrants in the West Loop: Bambola, a 7,000-square-foot tribute that aims to transport diners on an imagined culinary journey on the Silk Road to Italy to China and back again with culinary stops in Turkey, Iran, India, Vietnam, and more. It’ll share a building with sister spot Coquette, a petite French cafe drawing on influences from Paris to the countryside with a menu centered around wood and charcoal-fired hearths. Bambola will open its doors on Tuesday, September 13; Coquette will follow in the fall.
Key Player: One Off Hospitality Group
Address: 551 N. Odgen Avenue, West Town
Big Star established itself as a one of the city’s most popular bars, with a bustling outdoor space in Wicker Park paired with tacos from the group behind the Publican. Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, and company have since opened a second location across from Wrigley Field. Now, they’re set to expand the brand in West Town at the corner of Ogden, Racine, and Ohio near the United Center with a concentration on Mexican seafood. West Town has solid mariscos restaurants, including El Barco Mariscos and Alegrias Seafood. But West Town is also a large neighborhood, and One Off is poised to share its own take on the genre with aguachile, ceviche, and whole fish, plus special tortillas from Pilsen’s El Popocatepetl. Look for a late September or early October opening.
Address: 739 N. Clark Street, River North
Key players: First Batch Hospitality, chef Andrew Graves
An East Coast hospitality group with urban wineries in N.Y. and D.C. is bringing that formula to River North. First Batch Hospitality has converted the former Zed451 building into a mostly private event venue, making better use of the rooftop bar. Downstairs, it’s opening a restaurant that’s open to the public called Liva. Chef Andrew Graves (Alinea) will bringing a fine dining touch to the menu, ensuring the bites pair well with the wines made on premises. It’s sharable plates with a Midwest ethos. Look for a mid- to late-fall debut.
Address: 2901 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Avondale
Key player: Dave Thompson
There’s a variety of horror- and fantasy-themed businesses in Avondale, from DMen Tap, to Bucket O Blood Record, and the Brewed. Deep Red Wine Merchant will join them in late fall, filling a niche of a neighborhood wine store with a cozy 12-seat bar. Owner Dave Thompson is running the ship by himself and has gushed about the community support — Mother’s Ruin and Loaf Lounge join him along Milwaukee Avenue. He’s not sure why Avondale has an obsession with the horror genre, but he’s a fan. Deep Red won’t have horror movie posters as part of its decor — it will be more nuanced with Easter eggs to discover. The bathroom design takes cues from The Shining. Thompson, who last worked at the Cherry Circle Room, is ready to embrace the community, and the early returns, in terms of support, have been promising. The opening would coincide with Halloween. What a spooky coincidence.
Address: 2131 N. Elston Avenue, Bucktown
Key players: Matt Barry, Connor Ptacin
The Green employs high-tech golf simulators for barflies who want an interactive element to their nights. Two restaurant newcomers are opening the space, in Bucktown and off the Elston Industrial Corridor. The space looks ideal for group events, and golfers who want to practice their swings during cold winter days. The food is pub grub, and there’s a grab-and-go menu for early-morning golfers. Look for a mid-September opening.
Address: 808 S. Route 59, Naperville
Key players: Madan Kulkarni, chef Yani Sanchez, chef Devinder Utpau
Already open for weddings and other private events, the Matrix Club is a venue from the owner of Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows and caters to the South Asian community. But at 75,000 square feet, replacing a former Sam’s Club, the Naperville venue will also house a restaurant. The food from Yani Sanchez (she helmed the Takito restaurants) departs from her past modern Mexican focus. Sanchez describes it as American with winks to Indian culture. She’s making a dish inspired by pani puri, a famous street snack, with hummus instead of chickpeas. There’s tandoori salmon, plus lamb ragu served with naan. While Sanchez oversees the entire food operation, the club has also brought on chef Devinder Utpau to concentrate on Indian food. The venue also includes a theater and seven bars. The restaurant is targeting a late fall opening.
Address: 2200 block of North California Avenue, Logan Square
Key players: Meadowlark Hospitality, Steve Lewis, chef Christopher Thompson, Abe Vucekovich
After opening Lardon and Union, Meadowlark Hospitality is calling its shot and opening a bar named after the company. The Meadowlark is 30-seat cocktail bar with a seasonal menu of drinks. The bar just landed Abe Vucekovich as its beverage director. He worked at Wicker Park’s influential Violet Hour and is bringing that experience to Logan Square. This is the third project in the space, and it’s supposed to evoke a back-alley speakeasy feel. Look for a late-September or early-October debut near the corner of California and Palmer.
Address: 3310 N. Elston Avenue, Avondale
Key player: chef Barry Sorkin
The owners of Smoque BBQ, recognized for serving some of the city’s best ribs and brisket, continue their plans for a neighborhood steakhouse. The restaurant, a result of a vendor mistake that led owner Barry Sorkin to cook steaks using sous vide and smoke, aims to give Chicagoans an affordable place for high-quality red meat. Sous vide (a process where cooks season and then seal items in airtight bags before submerging them in precisely heated water over a set period of time) can make tender magic with even the cheapest cuts of meat. The opening is pegged for mid- to late-fall.
Address: 3615 W. Roosevelt Road, North Lawndale
Key players: Bridgette Flagg
The original Soulé in West Town is a celebrity magnet, a casual spot for serious soul food — think wings, grits, catfish, and mac and cheese — in an upbeat atmosphere with the uncanny ability to make diners dream of their dinner days after the meal. Founder Bridgette Flagg wants to bring that magic to the West Side with a second location. North Lawndale isn’t known for restaurants, and Soulé could be a valuable amenity for neighbors. It’ll have a bar inside the larger location. Flagg’s looking to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of her first location, October 29, with the opening of the North Lawndale spot. Stay tuned for more information.
Address: 2237 S. Wentworth Avenue, Chinatown
Key player: Tony Hu
Chinatown has gone through a transformation, and one of the biggest changes is coming to an iconic space on Wentworth. In 2018, Cantonese mainstay Won Kow closed after 90 years (the restaurant was also known for its tiki drinks, a curious longtime alcoholic pairing for Chinese food in America). Restaurateur Tony Hu (Lao Sze Chuan) has been importing Asian chains to America in recent years, and now plans to bring Xiaolongkan Hot Pot to Chicago. Hu tells Eater that he’s waiting for inspections with an opening soon to follow.