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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.

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.

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.

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.


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


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.


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


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.

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.

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.

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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