Best New Restaurants - February 2011

La Taberna Tapas on Halsted

Latin American tapas with influences from Spain and other Mediterranean countries and South America stars at this University Village restaurant, which also serves paella and other entrees, including some served on cedar planks. House sangrias and a full bar accent the cooking of veteran Chicago chefs Gustavo Castaneda and Enrique Cortez in a colorful space featuring paintings reminiscent of works of famed Spanish artists.

Mago; Photo: Hardy Design Studio


Fans of authentic Mexican and Latin American food have followed Chef Jean Luis Gonzalez from the former Fuego Mexican Grill (now Salsa 17) down the block in northwest suburban Arlington Heights to new digs at Mago, next door to Metropolis Theater. The chef’s signature ceviches, moles, guacamole and other favorites are here. Mago is BYOB for now.


Formerly known as Fiddlehead Café, this Lincoln Square gastropub sports a revamped menu and décor warmed by a fireplace and sofa seating in the lounge area. House-smoked meats, cheeses, sandwiches and full meals made from local, organic ingredients when available accompany a vast beer and wine list. Wine flights are particularly novice-friendly.


An inventive spelling of “rooster” signals the early-morning opening hours of this cozy Logan Square breakfast, lunch and early evening spot. From coffee and pastries to full meals, this coffee shop/café is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, complete with free Wi-Fi.

Taco Joint Urban Taqueria and Cantina

Regional Mexican street fare, all the rage since Rick Bayless opened Xoco, has set up shop on Lincoln Park’s Halsted Street restaurant row with both a dining room and a walk-up window. Those eating in can accompany their tacos and tortas with one of 50 tequilas or many other alcoholic choices.