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Where to Eat on New Year’s Day 2018 in Chicago

Soothe your Champagne hangover on New Year’s Day

Stella Barra: New Year's Day 2018 in Chicago

Stella Barra: New Year’s Day 2018 in Chicago

Since you’ll more than likely be hungover from the previous night’s revelry, it’s of the utmost importance that you eat well on New Year’s Day. Plus there’s just something so fitting about starting the new year off with a sensational first meal. Here’s where to soothe your hungover wounds in Chicago on January 1, 2018.

Shaw’s Crab House: Start the new year  day in style with a bevy of brunch specials at Shaw’s in River North, a revered restaurant with particular renown for its weekend brunch. Build-your-own omelets, Belgian waffles and a decadent seafood spread will all be on-hand, along with surf & turf options and a sprawling sweets table. In addition, all attendees will be given a $25 gift cart to use towards lunch in 2018. Brunch costs $59 for adults, $10 for kids 7-12 and free for children under six.

Kizuki: Nothing soothes a Champagne hangover quite like a hearty bowl of ramen, which is what makes Wicker Park’s Kizuki such a perfect destination come New Year’s Day. The restaurant has just the hangover cure with lunch starting at 11:30 a.m.: 10 different bowls of ramen will be offered, including staples like the tonkotsu shoyu ramen with pork broth, soy sauce and black garlic oil; and the yuzu shio ramen with French sea salt, kelp and Japanese citrus.

Frontier: Nothing satisfies a New Year’s Day hangover quite like a boozy brunch. Frontier understands this perfectly, and the West Town restaurant and bar is celebrating appropriately with drink specials like mimosa towers, plus comfort food options like beignets, bacon flights, Wagyu sirloin steak and eggs and chicken biscuits. Brunch will be served from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!: For the 12th time, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is featuring its famed pajama brunch, encouraging patrons to attend in their comfiest attire. From 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., the Spanish classic features a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar along with a myriad of sweet and savory brunch tapas. For those who dine in pajamas, they’ll receive a gift certificate equal to the price of their meal for a future visit.

Stella Barra Pizzeria: Here’s another pajama brunch to add to your radar. The casual, comforting affair runs from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and includes endless warm cinnamon roll bread pudding, egg enchiladas, short rib hash and more. There’s also $5 Bloody Marys, mimosas and bellinis. Again, for those who dine in pajamas, they’ll receive a gift certificate equal to the value of their meal.

Dining Chicago Makes The Most of Christkindlmarket

In the thick of the holidays, it’s that time of year for shopping, gifting, family and perhaps most importantly: mulled wine. The latter is where Christkindlmarket comes in. Chicago’s iconic German market/festival is back in action for the season, serving up holiday eats through Christmas Eve in the heart of the Loop. Here’s everything you need to know about the market this year, and how to make the most of this merry tradition.

Dining Chicago Makes The Most of Christkindlmarket

Dining Chicago Makes The Most of Christkindlmarket


The longstanding German fete takes place in Daley Plaza through December 24 (there’s also a spin-off market in Wrigleyville and another in Naperville, but this one is the most iconic). While there’s plenty of trinkets to peruse and purchase, the heart of the festival is the food. Much of the items up for grabs come from German roots, from those hefty schnitzel sandwiches to the giant pretzels.

Upon arrival to Christkindlmarket, which is free to attend and open all day and evening, is the warming, fragrant aroma of holiday spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The scent permeates the festival, wafting through the air and igniting cravings for snacks aplenty. It’s all thanks to vendors like Pemberton Candies, which slings English toffee and gourmet chocolates, as well as Niche Gourmet’s marzipan, gingerbread, and German snacks. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on a trip to the Sweet Castle. This is where you’ll want to fill up on sweet, spice-roasted nuts, along with German cookies, popcorn, cotton candy, and stollen, the famous German holiday cake similar (but better) to American fruitcake.

Aside from all that candy, you’ll probably need to balance the sugar with some savory schnitzel. Germany’s fried pork sandwiches are best enjoyed at Schnitzelhaus, which features the savory comfort food along with chicken sandwiches, German-inspired burgers, potato pancakes, and soul-soothing goulash. Another solid savory option is DönerMen, a Chicago-based company slinging curry wurst sausages, kebabs, curry fries, and other Berlin-born flavors. And don’t forget to snag a pretzel or two from Pretzel Haus. The doughy treats come in various flavors, including some stuffed with cheeses, sauces and sweet fillings.

The coveted mulled wine

The coveted mulled wine

Other edible options include baked cheese from the Baked Cheese House, sweet and savory crepes and waffles courtesy of Crepes Paname, doughnuts and stollen from Chicago’s iconic Dinkel’s Bakery, and sauerkraut and potato pancakes at Traditional German Food, LLC.

The drinks are just as important, especially on cold December evenings. This includes hot teas at TeaGschwender and Christkindlmarket’s most famous beverage, the Glühwein (aka spice-infused mulled wine), served in collectible ceramic boots.

Weekly Planner: Mezcal Dinner, Feast of the Seven Fishes

Weekly Planner: Mezcal Dinner, Feast of the Seven Fishes

Mezcal Dinner @ Mi Tocaya Antojería

Mezcal Dinner @ Mi Tocaya Antojería

Mezcal Dinner at Mi Tocaya Antojeria

Wine dinners and beer dinners are a commonplace occurrence around these parts, but mezcal dinners? That’s something pretty new and enticing. At the buzzy Mi Tocaya Antojeria in Logan Square, chef Diana Davila is hosting a series of mezcal dinners this winter, starting with an event on December 14 in conjunction with Mezcal Union, a producer from Oaxaca. The dinner entails a four-course meal paired with tasting portions of mezcal, as well as a special mezcal cocktail. There are two seatings for the dinners, the first at 6:00 p.m. and the second at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are $95 per person. Snag yours here.

Feast of the Seven Fishes at Cafe Spiaggia

In other, slightly more festive, tasting menu news, Cafe Spiaggia embraces Italian holiday tradition for its Feast of the Seven Fishes on December 21. Inspired by their own grandmothers’ traditions, chef Tony Mantuano and executive chef Joe Flamm will serve up a six-course spread at both 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., with dishes like steelhead tartare, fluke crudo, fritto misto, bucatini with clams, octopus and whole snapper. Tickets are $75 per person, and wine pairings are available for an additional $25. Go here to reserve your seat.


Eden Adds Bakery Bar to Brunch

In case you needed another reason to get out of bed on Sunday, the jumbo rice krispie treats at Eden should do the trick. The restaurant has added a bakery bar to its Sunday brunch routine, available for takeaway from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. each week. So in addition to brunch dishes like panettone French toast and sweet potato-pork belly hash, you can sweeten things up with snacks like s’mores bars, chocolate chip cookies, turtle brownies, dream bars and those aforementioned rice krispie treats, to name a few.

Happy Hour at Regards to Edith

Just in time to help fuel the holiday drinking season, Regards to Edith became the latest restaurant to board the happy hour train. Now available every Friday from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., the weekly promo is the perfect way to ease into the weekend and cut off work a tad early. During this two-hour period, guests can partake in $2 Budweiser bottles, $5 draft beers, $8 select wines by the glass and $4 cheese fries made with aged cheddar mornay and pickled peppers.

Dining Chicago Christmas Drinking Guide 2017

Where to eat, drink, dance and be merry this Christmas.

Dining Chicago Christmas Drinking Guide 2017 @ Everest

Dining Chicago Christmas Drinking Guide 2017 @ Everest

Petterino’s: Santa’s coming to town a little early this year, and he’s hungry for brunch. Pay a visit to Mr. Claus at Petterino’s, where he’ll be stationed December 16 and 17 from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. both days. The perfect stopover before an afternoon spent shopping or at the theatre, the restaurant will have a special brunch buffet, while Santa doles out candy canes to visitors. He’ll also be available for pictures with the kids. Brunch costs $39.95 per person, or $19.95 for kids 12 and younger.

Dining Chicago Christmas Drinking Guide 2017

 Everest: For one of the most magical and transportive holiday repasts this season, head to Everest for chef/owner Jean Joho’s Alsatian-inspired wonderland. All month long for dinner, the Alsace-born chef harkens to his childhood, particularly his beloved holiday memories, by cooking up dishes he enjoyed at home with family. For the season, Joho is offering a special multi-course tasting menu that includes foie gras, pike, roasted goose and more. The menu costs $165 per person, and wine pairings are an additional $98. Reservations can be made online or by calling Everest.

The Whistler: In case you prefer Christmas on the dance floor, The Whistler keeps things casual (and boozy) with its annual holiday party on December 23. Dubbed “X-mas A Go Go,” the shindig features dancing all night long to a variety of tunes by local DJ Joe Bryl. Expect everything from reggae and R&B to funk. It all starts at 10:00 p.m., and the bar will also be slinging holiday-inspired cocktail specials. No cover to attend.

Commonwealth Tavern: In Roscoe Village, Commonwealth Tavern is a family-friendly, cozy place to hole up for festive specials on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. While the kitchen will be closed on the actual day, guests can still imbibe drinks like hot toddies and boozy hot chocolate infuses with Fireball cinnamon whiskey and garnished with a candy cane. On Christmas Eve, the bar will be broadcasting the Cowboys vs. Seahawks game at 3:25 p.m., with brunch specials beforehand like gingerbread French toast. There will also be a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and mimosa bar.

Lottie’s Pub: Another great casual option is Lottie’s Pub, which will be open at 6:00 p.m. on Christmas for its 14th annual Rock ’n’ Roll Christmas party. A fun and low-key way to celebrate and drink with friends, the party offers prizes and giveaways, including a Riot Fest guitar. Guests are encouraged to bring gently worn winter coats for the Salvation Army coat drive, and there will be drink specials like $3.50 Heinekens and $5 Rumplemintz hot chocolate.

Saint Lou’s Assembly: The best place to get a Christmas tree is a place where you can also get a drink at the same time. All month long, through Christmas Eve, Saint Lou’s Assembly has stocked its back patio with Christmas trees for city-dwellers looking to pick one up and bring one home. A variety of trees are available, including Frasier firs and Balsams, and employees are on-hand to help you tie it to your car. Trees vary in price.

Chicago’s Weekly Planner: TWO’s Restaurant Royale

 TWO is gearing up to host its first annual Restaurant Royale

TWO’s First Annual Restaurant Royale

TWO’s First Annual Restaurant Royale

Get ready for a culinary smackdown for the ages, because TWO is gearing up to host its first annual Restaurant Royale on December 13 at The Ivy Room (12 E. Ohio St., #100). In conjunction with Terlato Distell Artisan Spirits, the competition is a bit of restaurant vs. restaurant and bar vs. bar, featuring holiday-inspired dishes and drinks by 10 local chefs and bartenders. The lineup of chefs this year includes Kevin Cuddihee of TWO, Mike Sheerin, Zoe Schor, Charles Welch, Brian Millman, Ashlee Aubin and more. Attendees will get to sample…………………….



Sumi Robata Bar Collaboration at Momotaro

In the wake of one of Chicago’s saddest restaurant closings, chef Gene Kato is keeping the Sumi Robata Bar spirit alive with events throughout the city. The latest? A collaborative event at the Izakaya at Momotaro on December 11.  For one night only, Kato and chef Mark Hellyar will work together on a menu of traditional Japanese yakitori….. 


Happy’s Pop-up at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Getting deep into the holiday spirit, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and Land & Sea Dept. are partnering with Johalla Projects for a new festive pop-up called Happy’s. Taking place in The Tank event space on the hotel’s ground floor, now through December 30, the bar will be open from 5:00 p.m. until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and from noon until 5:00 p.m. on Sundays……


Drag Brunch at Wood

In other festive holiday news, Wood is wrapping itself in Christmas cheer for its “Wrapped in Red Drag Brunch” on December 10. Starting at 11:00 a.m. on that Sunday, the brunch is an event for guests to come dressed in their best seasonal outfits and enjoy an entertaining brunch emceed by Wanda Screw. The special menu for the occasion features mascarpone cinnamon rolls, corned beef hash…....

Weekly Planner: Sip & Paint Party, White Truffle Season, Half Acre Tap

White Truffle Season at Spiaggia

White Truffles at Spiaggia

White Truffles at Spiaggia

In addition to booze and merriment, this is also the season for white truffles, one of the most coveted and opulent ingredients of the year. No better place to celebrate the mighty truffle than at Spiaggia, where chef/partner Tony Mantuano and executive chef Joe Flamm have upped the ante on their new fall menu with a bevy of truffle-infused creations. Truffles can be tasted as accents to a la carte dishes like pappardelle with squash, foie gras, amaretti and Parmigiano-Reggiano; risotto with frico and eight-year balsamic; and suckling goat with fregola Sarda, broccolini and apricot. There’s also tasting menu options, which has dishes like Wagyu carpaccio with housemade grissini, egg yolk jam and seven-year Parmigiano; and caramelle in brodo stuffed with rabbit mortadella, smoked rabbit and chicken brodo. White Truffles at Spiaggia

Veuve Clicquot Holiday Dinner at Mon Ami Gabi

As the holiday season moves full steam ahead, cravings for sparkling wine are amping up. Which is why you should head to Mon Ami Gabi for their highly seasonally appropriate Veuve Clicquot dinner on December 5. Taking place from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., the event features a four-course lineup of French dishes and fine Champagne, including Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. The event is $75 per person and reservations can be made by calling Mon Ami Gabi’s Lincoln Park location.

Sip & Paint Party at Shaw’s Schaumburg

’Tis the season for festive activities and booze aplenty, and no single event captures both of those sentiments quite like the upcoming Sip & Paint Party at Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg. In partnership with SIP Parties, the restaurant is hosting a very special, very merry event on Monday, December 4, at 4:30 p.m., wherein guests get to sip cocktails, savor appetizers and get creative on their very own easel. The event starts with a variety of appetizers, holiday-inspired desserts and two beverages of choice from the “Naughty or Nice” list of drinks. Then it moves on to interactive art instruction, which will guide painters on how to illustrate the “Winter Snowman.” Added bonus: any guest who arrives in an ugly sweater gets a chance to win $200 in Shaw’s gift certificates for ugliest sweater of the night, and the runner-up gets $50 to Tokio Pub and $50 to Seaside’s. The event costs $65 per person, all inclusive.

Half Acre Tap Takeover at Pub Royale

In other boozy news (like we said: ’tis the season!), Pub Royale is welcoming Half Acre for a special tap takeover on December 6. Starting at 6:00 p.m., all 12 taps at the Wicker Park bar will feature different varieties from the local brewery, including the Grip Brett Fermented Ale, Aquafur Wet Hop Pilsner, and Leadfeather Black Ale Nitro. The most exciting part, however, is the tapping of three different Big Hugs varieties, which are Half Acre’s annual winter-release Imperial Stouts that people wait all year for. This will occur every 30 minutes starting at 6:00 p.m., and beers are available while supplies last.

Chicago’s Coziest Restaurants for Fireside Dining

Chicago winters can be a brutal time, and such frigid days necessitate the nourishing solace of fireside dining and drinking. Embrace the hearty vibes and fireside delights at one of Chicago’s Coziest Restaurants for Fireside Dining.

Scofflaw One Of Chicago's Coziest Restaurants

Scofflaw One Of Chicago’s Coziest Restaurants

Broken Shaker: At the risk of spoiling my cozy little secret, there’s a secluded little area tucked alongside a small set of stairs in the back of Cafe Integral, and most people don’t seem to know it’s there. Along with a fireplace, the little corner also boasts comfy chairs, a small table, and knick knacks indicative of a Latin American cafe. In general, the whole lobby space between Cafe Integral and Broken Shaker is a dark, comfortable cottage-like motif perfect for relaxing with coffee or cocktails.

Hopleaf: When it comes to toasty bar comforts, it doesn’t get any better than Hopleaf. Chicago’s preeminent Belgian beer bar is an absolute winter essential. Because beer-steamed mussels, crispy aioli-dipped frites, and a fireplace situated in a dining room that looks like a ski lodge is the ideal definition of winter respite.

Scofflaw: One Of Chicago’s Coziest Restaurants: A gin-centric bar may not be the first place that comes to mind when craving cozy bars, but Scofflaw merits a visit this season thanks largely to its second room located around the corner from the main bar. Here you’ll find a parlor reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland tea party, complete with lavish, snug couches, chairs, and a roaring fireplace. It’s the perfect setting in which to enjoy hot buttered rum, exceptional bar food, and enough gin to make you forget about the temperature outside.

Cindy’s: Probably not a viable idea of the temperature is hovering around zero, but one chic spot for outdoor fire pits is Cindy’s. Beloved during the warmer months for its impressive vista of Millennium Park from the roof of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, Cindy’s proves its worth as a year-round al fresco destination with outdoor fireplaces and blankets for keeping toasty. It’s especially nice when enjoyed with a cocktail or two.

Drumbar: Another stellar rooftop cocktail bar is this Streeterville stunner. The best part about this space is its ambience reminiscent of a Clue-like mansion, complete with an indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pits. Along with some of the most intricate and special craft cocktails in town, it makes for a wholly immersive drinking impressive to help you endure the winter months.

Old Town Social: Housemade charcuterie is especially tasty when eaten in close proximity to a bustling fire. Old Town Social is as close as you can get to fireside cured meats without actually immersing yourself in flames, so be sure to take advantage this season The Old Town stalwart is a go-to year-round for their impressive and unique in-house charcuterie program, complete with housemade hot dogs, but the space is especially alluring now that it’s fireplace area is full steam.

Sable Kitchen & Bar: The fireplace at Sable Kitchen & Bar is electric, sure, but it’s just as comforting as the real deal. Plus it’s nice to have zero chance of accidentally burning alive. The makeshift fireplace provides a comforting backdrop for Sable’s bites and sips. Get cozy with one of Sable’s impeccable hot cocktails, and pair it with some steak tartare, some lobster rangoon, and some falafel sliders.

Weekly Planner: Slurping Turtle, Ronero’s Happy Hour

Happy Hour at Ronero

Oysters take the spotlight at Chicago’s newest happy hour. Nowadays, head to Ronero Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. to enjoy discounted food and drinks, including dollar oysters. The freshly shucked bivalves come with a variety of accompaniments, including leche de tigre mignonette, house-fermented hot sauce and Brazilian farofa. Champagne and rosé specials are also on hand for happy hour, with selections changing weekly.

Happy Hour at Ronero

Happy Hour at Ronero

Ronero Tuesday through Thursday

Ronero Tuesday through Thursday

Slurping Turtle

Carryout and Delivery at Big Jones

As the temperature continues to dip, one thing becomes increasingly clear: it’s delivery season. But just because you want to hibernate at home doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality in food. Thankfully, restaurants like Big Jones are raising the bar on delivery (and carryout) with menu options that provide restaurant-caliber cuisine right at your front door. Andersonville’s premiere Southern-inspired restaurant features an impressive menu lineup this season, including fried chicken, barbecued pork shoulder po’ boys, gumbo, pimento cheese and shrimp & grits, along with sweets like housemade dark chocolate-rum chocolate macaroon chunk ice cream. The carryout and delivery menu is available during lunch and dinner on weekdays, and during dinner on weekends.

Slurping Turtle Begins Brunch

If dishes like duck fat fried chicken and “hangover ramen” sound appealing, then you should set your alarm and wake up in time for brunch at Slurping Turtle. The River North restaurant, an early adopter of the ramen craze and one of Chicago’s preeminent Japanese haunts, has introduced Sunday brunch to its repertoire, and true to form, it looks like one of the most unique offerings downtown these days. The menu is small but mighty, featuring clever riffs on familiar brunch staples. This includes duck fat fried chicken and matcha waffles with buckwheat honey and whipped butter; breakfast bao featuring steamed lotus buns with pork belly, sunny side-up egg and hollandaise; and ramen with spicy pork miso paste, molten egg, bok choy, bean sprouts, fried pork belly and more of that duck fat fried chicken. Brunch is served every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Wow Bao Contest, Ronero’s Happy Hour

Wow Bao Eating Championship

Wow Bao

Wow Bao

Oysters take the spotlight at Chicago’s newest happy hour. Nowadays, head to RoneroTuesday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. to enjoy discounted food and drinks, including dollar oysters. The freshly shucked bivalves come with a variety of accompaniments, including leche de tigre mignonette, house-fermented hot sauce and Brazilian farofa. Champagne and rosé specials are also on hand for happy hour, with selections changing weekly.

Carryout and Delivery at Big Jones

As the temperature continues to dip, one thing becomes increasingly clear: it’s delivery season. But just because you want to hibernate at home doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality in food. Thankfully, restaurants like Big Jones are raising the bar on delivery (and carryout) with menu options that provide restaurant-caliber cuisine right at your front door. Andersonville’s premiere Southern-inspired restaurant features an impressive menu lineup this season, including fried chicken, barbecued pork shoulder po’ boys, gumbo, pimento cheese and shrimp & grits, along with sweets like housemade dark chocolate-rum chocolate macaroon chunk ice cream. The carryout and delivery menu is available during lunch and dinner on weekdays, and during dinner on weekends. Check out the full menu here:

baozi (ChineseAbout this sound 包子) or simply known as baobauhumbownunubakpao (Hokkien), bausakpowpau, or pao (Hakka) is a type of steamed, filled bun[1] or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) item in various Chinese cuisines, as there is much variation as to the fillings and the preparations. In its bun-like aspect it is very similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. It can be filled with meat and/or vegetarian fillings.

Two types are found in most parts of China and Indonesia: Dàbāo (大包, “big bun”), measuring about 10 cm across, served individually, and usually purchased for take-away. The other type, Xiǎobāo (小包, “small bun”), measure approximately 5 cm wide, and are most commonly eaten in restaurants, but may also be purchased for take-away. Each order consists of a steamer containing between three and ten pieces. A small ceramic dish is provided for vinegar or soy sauce, both of which are available in bottles at the table, along with various types of chili and garlic pastes, oils or infusions, fresh coriander and leeks, sesame oil, and other flavorings.

Chicago Makes Its Mark on Nashville

Chefs and restaurateurs are expanding their Chicago brands southward to Nashville.

Headquarters Nashville

Headquarters Nashville

Although Nashville is roughly 450 miles South of Chicago, the two cities have never felt closer thanks to a recent uptick in restaurant expansions and chef movement. The draw for Chicago restaurants and bars to branch out to Nashville, essentially the closest Southern city to the Midwest, is multifaceted. Not only are the rents cheaper and the land much more spacious, but burgeoning neighborhoods and a hungry, excited clientele make for a veritable blank canvas for creativity. Here are some of the latest examples of Chicago’s unique—and ever-widening—connection to the Music City.

Headquarters Beercade: Nashville’s most recent Chicago import, Headquarters Beercade brought its famed mix of vintage arcade gaming, crafty cocktails and elevated bar fare to Broadway. The expansion marks the first Nashville locale for Machine Hospitality Group, which owns Headquarters, who’ve tapped Zach Rivera and Scott Donaldson to helm the beverage program and food menu, respectively. This includes 35 seasonally changing beer cans, 12 draft beer handles and nostalgia-inspired cocktails like the Mott’s, made with Stoli Apple, cinnamon applesauce and lemon juice. For food, Donaldson pays homage to Headquarters origins with an Italian beef sandwich, plus corndogs with sriracha cream, spicy buffalo cauliflower and lots more. Then there’s the 30-plus free arcade and pinball games, spread over 5,000-sq.-ft. of space, outfitted with comic books, vintage mirrors and more Chicago touches like antique newspaper stands.

Sunda: One of Chicago’s most prolific and perpetually popular restaurant and bar groups, Rockit Ranch Productions, chose Nashville as their first foray outside the Second City. The group is keeping busy with a targeted fall debut for a Nashville outpost of Sunda, its wildly popular modern pan-Asian restaurant known equally for sushi and celebrity sightings. Sunda’s current chef de cuisine and partner Mike Morales will serve as the new location’s executive chef, and Rockit Ranch CEO Billy Dec aligned with Nashville’s Fresh Hospitality for the project. Sunda-lovers can expect a, 8,000-sq.-ft. space in The Gulch neighborhood, with many of the same dishes and drinks—like lemongrass beef lollipops, miso-glazed cod and tuna truffle nigiri—that helped cement the restaurant as a Chicago fan favorite.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish: Another one of Chicago’s most popular restaurant and bar groups, Land & Sea Dept., has also targeted Nashville for its first expansion outside Chicago. The bar in question is Parsons’ Chicken & Fish, Logan Square’s perpetually packed patio haunt famed for its fried chicken and Negroni slushies. It’s headed to Wedgewood-Houston in the fall, bringing its people-pleasing blend of booze, comfort food and al fresco lounging in a space with enough room for 200 diners. When it debuts later this year, it’ll be in good company too, part of Nashville’s forthcoming May Hosiery development where an outpost of New Orleans’ St. Roch Market food hall is also taking shape.

Nicky’s Coal Fired: Among Nashville’s newest and most exciting entries is hot in more ways than one. Recently opened in The Nations neighborhood, another up-and-comer on Nashville’s cultural and dining scene, Nicky’s Coal Fired is a restaurant with a palpable Chicago connection. The husband-wife duo behind the restaurant, Tony and Caroline Galzin, made names for themselves in Chicago restaurants for years, working at places like recently shuttered mk The Restaurant, Le Colonial and Leopold before decamping Tony’s hometown for Southern pastures. Partly inspired by their mutual love for Chicago’s Coalfire pizzeria, the couple employed a massive four-ton coal-fired oven for their aptly dubbed restaurant, the first of its kind in the city. Here, they crank the heat up on pizzas, seasonal small plates, vegetables, pastas and more. It’s complimented by European beers, wine on tap and Italian-inspired cocktails, all served in a comfortable 100-seat restaurant housed in the industrial Stocking 51 Building.

Fort Louise: Another chef is making moves to Nashville, while maintaining his prominent role in Chicago. Greg Biggers will stay on as executive chef at Cafe des Architectes in the Gold Coast while also serving as chef/partner of a casual restaurant hinged on American comfort food in Nashville’s Inglewood neighborhood. For the chef, an Alabama native, newly opened Fort Louise affords him a unique opportunity to tap into his roots and balance out his fine dining experience with something more low-key. Located in a cottage-like house, the cozy restaurant and bar is quite the juxtaposition to his tasting menu restaurant inside the shiny Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile. Here, the focus is on snacks and entree plates for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.