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Let’s just put this on the table: You can’t really call yourself a Chicagoan unless you’re obsessed with trying new restaurants. (Sorry to state the obvious.) So the only question is: which restaurants do you absolutely, positively need to hit, right this second? Allow us to address that, one piece of sashimi and cup of mushroom tea at a time.



Homemade pasta is the name of the game at this new West Loop spot. With Top Chef alum Sarah Grueneberg at the helm, the restaurant churns out classic Italian dishes and a few with a modern twist. (The wok-fried arrabbiatta definitely falls into the latter camp.)

1020 W. Madison St.; 312-888-3041 or


Oyster Bah

Look, “bah” is how New Englanders say bar, which makes sense for a spot that channels a seaside town. You’ll find are oysters, stuffed clams and a dish called “Wicked Calamari.” Attire: Red Sox Cap preferred.

1962 N. Halsted St.; 773-248-3000 or


Bunny, the Micro Bakery

So, it’s not a restaurant per se--Bunny is a teeny bakery. But the buzz surrounding the spot is pretty huge. We’re guessing it has something to do with the house-made breads and butters, mysteriously popular mushroom tea and owl-shaped foie gras. Oh, and it’s run by the folks behind the white-hot Elizabeth.

2928 N. Broadway St.;


Naoki Sushi

Yep, another great Chicago sushi restaurant. This one’s hidden in the Belden-Stratford residential building in Lincoln Park, so it has a kind of speakeasy feel. On the menu: nigiri, sashimi, Japanese main plates and a list of cocktails labeled as “sushi friendly.” (Funny, that’s how we describe ourselves.)

2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-868-0002 or


Packed: Dumplings Reimagined

A new place for seasonal, chef-driven dumplings just opened in Hyde Park--and we have a Halal-Guys-type situation on our hands. Meaning, these goods are selling out fast (like, every day.) So plan your visit to coincide with the 11 a.m. opening. Which is never too early for butternut squash, sage and lady apples in a curried wrapper.

1312 E. 57th St.; 773-219-6544 or


Cold Storage

Kind of a restaurant within a restaurant (it’s housed inside Swift & Sons), Cold Storage has seven to eight fish specials each day. You might find a grilled Walleye sandwich with spicy peppers or beef-and-oyster tartar on the menu. Or, skip straight to dessert: the Cracker Jack sundae has popcorn-flavored ice cream, people.

1000 W. Fulton Market; 312-638-6268 or

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