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Navigating Chicago’s Newest Restaurants

Navigating Chicago’s Newest Restaurants

Navigating Chicago's Newest Restaurants at Furious Spoon

Navigating Chicago’s Newest Restaurants at Furious Spoon

New restaurants open seemingly every day in Chicago. Add in the thousands upon thousands of other dining staples around town and you’ve got yourself quite the dubious task when it comes to navigating your dinner plans. You’d have an easier time keeping up with the Kardashians than with the spate of new dining options. But we’re here to help whittle down your decisions and abate your stress. From a “furious” new ramen shop to a slice of Southern soul, here’s your guide to hot new restaurants in Chicago and why you might love them.



Chicago saw a 14 percent rise in international visitors last year, to 1.37 million, increasing the city’s ranking nationwide up one notch, to No. 9.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wants the city to be within the top 5 by 2020, made the announcement Friday morning, citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce………………CONTINUE: 

The biggest gains came from Asian and Latin American regions, where tourism agency Choose Chicago has increased marketing, the mayor’s office said.

Chicago’s total visitation last year, with the official international figures, comes to a revised 46.37 million, a record for the city, the mayor’s office said. Emanuel has set a goal of 50 million visitors by 2020.

Illinois saw a nearly 12 percent rise in international visitors , to 2.08 million, which pushed overall visitor levels past 100 million for the first time.

The state ranking went to No. 6, from No. 8, according to Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, which cited a new marketing campaign as well as trade missions overseas.


First Taste: Nonna’s

First Taste: Nonna’s

First Taste: Nonna's

First Taste: Nonna’s

I take my eggplant Parmesan very seriously. Need I remind you about the come-to-Jesus moment I had upon eating a recent eggplant Parm sub in Chicago? It’s a food I hold especially near and dear to my heart, so I flip at the chance to try a new version when they pop up around town. It doesn’t happen very often, you see, so I have to be vigilant. One newcomer to the eggplant Parmesan scene is Nonna’s, an Italian sandwich and sundries shop in the West Loop that serves as a casual grab-and-go offshoot of Formento’s right next door. I was curious and eager to see how my beloved eggplant Parm would fare in the hands of the venerable restaurant group behind The Bristol and Balena, as opposed to the deli-like counter spots I would typically frequent to get my fix. Here’s how it all went down………………CONTINUE: 



Navy Pier Beckons a Restaurant Renaissance

Navy Pier Beckons a Restaurant Renaissance:

Navy Pier Beckons a Restaurant Renaissance

Navy Pier Beckons a Restaurant Renaissance

Navy Pier is beckoning a new dining era with a slew of fresh and forthcoming restaurant options.

For years, Navy Pier served simultaneously as Chicago’s biggest tourist attraction and Chicago’s biggest cliche. What has long been tourist catnip has also been maligned as a local’s nightmare, riddled with unruly lines for mediocre sights. Chief among the mediocrity was Navy Pier’s dining options. Sure we love the great Harry Caray’s Tavern, but too much of the Pier festered with boring chain options like McDonald’s and Haagen-Dazs. That’s all changing as Navy Pier beckons a new era of dining, featuring everything from Lettuce Entertain You ventures to Fish Bar and The Goddess and Grocer ………………CONTINUE: 

Sunday Supper – Ramen Battle: Weekend Planner

Sunday Supper – Ramen Battle, and National Margarita Day


Sunday Supper – Ramen Battle


Sunday Supper at A10

Sunday supper is the new Sunday brunch. The latest spot to jump on the bandwagon is A10, which is now offering a new weekly supper special after 4:00 p.m., which includes a seasonal salad and meatball ‘n’ pasta combo served family-style. All this plus a draft cocktail or beer for $20/person. The menu rotates weekly, with dishes like chicken and Tuscan kale meatball with basil pesto and housemade spaghetti ………………CONTINUE: 

XOCO Bistro: First Taste

XOCO Bistro: First Taste

First Taste: XOCO Bistro

First Taste: XOCO Bistro

Rick Bayless has achieved demigod status in the restaurant world; he’s a chef who seamlessly commands a Mexican dining empire as well as respect and admiration from peers and diners near and far. In River North, Topolobampo and Frontera Grill are timeless keystones that draw customers from all over the country and beyond. When Bayless opened his most casual endeavor to date, XOCO, right next door to Frontera Grill people lined up down the block, and they continue to do so to this day. Then when the restaurateur announced plans to open a XOCO offshoot in Wicker Park, his first restaurant in the neighborhood and the first Bayless brick and mortar spot in several years, excitable alarm bells went off throughout the foodie community, and rightfully so. After debuting to cramped crowds and feverish success, Bayless renamed the new XOCO to XOCO Bistro to highlight the fact that this location was more full-service and full-fledged as a bar and restaurant. So how does Mexican street food fair in a sit-down environment? Let’s find out. ………………CONTINUE: 

Bread Pudding at Sullivan’s Steakhouse: Sweet of the Week

Bread Pudding at Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Bread Pudding at Sullivan's Steakhouse

Bread Pudding at Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Chicago is a city with a sweet tooth, packed with unique pastries and desserts in every neighborhood restaurant and bakery for dining and snacking in Chicago. I’m a guy with a sweet tooth, so each week I’ll report on a different dessert you need to try. I mean, I’ll eat more than one dessert of course, but only one standout confection gets a shout out.


I used to like bread pudding as a kid… before I knew any better. Before I realized that many recipes were stale throwaways of old bread and filler ingredients scraped from the pantry. It’s a shockingly easy dessert to make, and one that too often treads in lazy territory, so you must parson my typical dismay. I never really order bread pudding if I have a choice. And by that I mean, I never really eat it unless I’m in a banquet hall, or perhaps on a cruise ship? So when I saw the bread pudding listed on the prix fixe menu for Sullivan’s Steakhouse’s Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac menu recently, I didn’t expect much. Fortunately, it way exceeded my expectations and served as the perfect punctuation point at the end of a fine meal………………CONTINUE: 

BellyQ and MAX’s Wine Dive: Brunch Bites

BellyQ and MAX’s Wine Dive: Brunch Bites

Brunch Bites: BellyQ and MAX's Wine Dive

Brunch Bites: BellyQ and MAX’s Wine Dive

In this week’s batch of brunch bites, bellyQ rolls out a new brunch menu and teaches guests how to recreate them at home, while MAX’s Wine Dive extends the weekend pastime to Monday.

Bill Kim’s restaurant empire has a special way of innovating Asian flavors and traditions. bellyQ, his largest endeavor to date, serves to update the Asian BBQ template in all sorts of offbeat ways. Take the brunch menu for instance, which recently underwent a substantial update to welcome new dishes to the fray. In line with Kim’s progressive, outré stylings, new menu items include a Vietnamese omelet with feta, spinach, and quinoa; country fried chicken katsu bowls with pork sausage gravy………………CONTINUE: 

Valentine’s Edition Weekend Planner

Valentine’s Edition Weekend Planner:

Valentine's Edition Weekend Planner at Rockit Burger

Valentine’s Edition Weekend Planner at Rockit Burger


Weekend Planner February 13-15: No matter the time of year, there is always lots to do, eat, and drink in Chicago. Here are some of the hottest happenings this weekend.

Heart-shaped Cookies and Pizza at Harry Caray’s

In case heart-shaped mac & cheese burgers are too intimidating for you, you can decorate some of your own heart-shaped cookies and eat heart-shaped pizza at Harry Caray’s. On February 13 and 14, both Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and Harry Caray’s Tavern allow guests to decorate heart-shaped cookies to their hearts’ desire, and/or build their own heart-shaped pizzas………………CONTINUE: 

Your Lenten Dining With Fish and Seafood: Freshen Up

Your Lenten Dining:

Your Lenten Dining (Mussels at Hopleaf)

Your Lenten Dining (Mussels at Hopleaf)

Fresh off the debauchery of Mardi Gras, Lent (February 18 through April 2, FYI) is a time to repent and reel in those excessive tendencies, many of which may involve meat. That’s why the pre-Easter weeks are the most apt time to focus on lighter seafood and fish dishes, whether it’s pristine sushi or steamed mussels. Here are some of Chicago’s top fish and seafood dishes to put on your Lenten dining radar this year (and every year)………………CONTINUE: 


Mardi Gras (/ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/), also Fat Tuesday in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany or King’s Day and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. The date of Fat Tuesday coincides with that of celebrations of Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess”.



Popular practices on Mardi Gras include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, debauchery, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition, as it is associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins. In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some American cities, it is now called “Mardi Gras Day”.It also has become a single people’s counter to the coupled-centric Valentine’s Day. 

The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving, then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times, parades were held on New Year’s Day. Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro; Barranquilla, Colombia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago;Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán and Sinaloa, Mexico; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Mobile, Alabama

Carnival is an important celebration in Anglican and Catholic European nations.In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “shrovetide”, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects, as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat, and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.