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Not knowing the hot new restaurant in Chicago is like not knowing the up-and-coming congresswoman in D.C., or the golden-touch agent in Hollywood, or the best Elvis impersonator in Vegas: Your cocktail-party conversation is nil and you’re missing out on some seriously good crushed peas with burrata. Here are 11 recent openings you need to try now.

Best 9 Duck Inn

The Duck Inn

What it is: Big-time former Four Seasons chef Kevin Hickey has opened up shop in Bridgeport. His food is as indulgent as ever but more laid-back.
What to order: Missing your Hot Doug’s fix? Hickey’s duck-fat dog is your new go-to. 2701 S. Eleanor St.

Best 1 Seven Lions

Seven Lions

What it is: Master sommelier, Check, Please! alum and Boarding House proprietor Alpana Singh?s sophomore spot. The clubby restaurant/bar is directly across the street from the Art Institute, yet it?s not a tourist trap, so file it under ?take visitors here.?
What to order: Start with deep-fried chicken skins; end with a bourbon banana split. 130 S. Michigan Ave.

Best 2 Dinosaur

Dinosaur BBQ

What it is: The first Midwestern location of a popular East Coast chain that deals in St. Louis-style Q. The sprawling Lincoln Park space has been home to several nightclubs, but this time around it?s family-friendly fun with menus for kids and gluten-free eaters.
What to order: Twice-cooked lamb shoulder with crispy, seared fried rice and a Korean glaze. 923 W. Weed St.

Best 3 Intro


What it is: A groundbreaking concept in the landmark Belden-Stratford building in Lincoln Park. A new chef takes over with a fresh menu every two to three months.
What to order: Through May, dig into L.A. chef and forager extraordinaire CJ Jacobson’s prime NY strip with aronia berries and olives. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West

Best Rockit


What it is: After a decade as the River North staple known for truffle fries and David Schwimmer sightings, this Nate Berkus-designed spot reopens this weekend with a new, sexier Kara Mann-imagined vibe.
What to order: Our cauliflower obsession continues with Rockit's chicken-fried version. 22 W. Hubbard St.

Best 5 Boltwood


What it is: Open for just under a year, this simple and serene Evanston restaurant has already earned major acclaim with Brian Huston as a nominee for James Beard’s 2015 Best Chef: Great Lakes.
What to order: Fish--walleye, halibut or sole--and a side of super-crispy potatoes with “garlic schmaltz.” 804 Davis St., Evanston

Restaurants Momotaro


What it is: The Boka guys’ West Loop temple to sushi that cost $3.4 million to build and was worth every penny. 
What to order: Don’t miss your chance to Instagram the chef's sashimi selection--a gorgeous presentation of fish flown in from Japan three times a week. 820 W. Lake St.

Best 7 Brass Monkey1

The Brass Monkey

What it is: Did you see American Hustle? Did you love it? Then eat at this ?70s-themed, high-brow/low-brow concept.
What to order: Tastes of your youth: a cheese ball served with Ritz crackers, sloppy-joe sliders, fish ?styx? and more. 401 N. Morgan St.

Best 8 Community Tavern

Community Tavern

What it is: A cozy but modern steakhouse in Portage Park. (Ahem: It’s time you figured out where Portage Park is.)
What to order: Roast chicken, a comfort-food win served with spicy sausage and rye bread. 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Best 10 Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco

What it is: A cult-favorite Texas taco chain lands in the unlikeliest of places--Chicago’s Gold Coast. No-frills, crowded, addictive and open until 4 a.m.
What to order: The Indian-inspired, crisp tikka-chicken taco with buttered cilantro basmati rice. 1110 N. State St.

New Restaurants Cochon Volant

Cochon Volant

What it is: A beautiful French bakery, brasserie and bar attached to the new Hyatt Centric hotel--and the only place in the Loop where bearded hipsters are talking bikes and burrata with finance types and politicians.
What to order: The French dips and cheeseburger are pretty epic, but if it’s your first time? Steak frites, baby. Go classic or go home. 100 W. Monroe St.

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