Hot Openings: New Chicago Restaurant Top Picks

This hot opener features extra hotness with their simple, engergizing decor and the young debut team of friends running Lokal.

From a 9 a.m. breakfast featuring blueberry blintzes with white chocolate and lavender ... to the late night euro-bite, Lokal transforms into a lounge featuring dj's, wine listings from Hungary, Georgia, France, Spain and Italy, Polish imports on tap and modern Continental European fare.

In Wicker Park we have a lot and it's tough to find the little gems. "We want to be that little gem," says chef Dylan Day. With their 2nd weekend booked solid, it seems that they already are.

Belly Shack
Chef Bill Kim and Yvonne Cadiz Kim – the terrifyingly suave couple behind Urban Belly with brother Mike Kim adds another to the Belly dynasty.

The three Kim’s triple-infuse Puerto Rican and Seoul-ful Pan Asian food tradition and convenience at an industrial-chic BYOB café. Belly Shack serves culturally clever sandwiches, pots of South American sausage stew with braised pork and pork roast on Wednesdays all with classic counter-service with the surroundings of low-color graffiti; a panache display of urban elements and outlooks.

Read more about the Kim's other Belly bistro at Fresh Meat Awards
The Fifth
Cold fondue, I was inappropriately licking the martini glass/dish Designed again by Nicole von Meier, menu designed again by Stephen Dunne The menu is a lot like Paramount Room & Volo. Luckily those entrees are delicious. Paris-trained chef Stephen Dunne. Cupcake dessert Biodynamic, sustainable wines 5 ingredients per dish/Fifth restaurant Potato ravioli in wonton wrappers with mashed potatoes, cannellini beans, spinach, parmesan Frites with homemade aioli – makes with 2 bottles of whiskey Best steak tartare w/ capers Cuidate $10 with fresh pomegranate (veev, cava, lime, agave, peach liqeur Shallot-scented potato gratin Cowboy-ish eurotaliancois. Lacquered chicken wings Acai liquer


Katakana and Koko Sushi Bar
The only booze on hand at this upcoming sushi BYOB in Logan Square is the sake that soaks the filet mignon wrapped in bacon. Sample the makis that flirt with island flavors such as goat cheese, coconut, plantain, chocolate and pineapple.
Opens Monday, November 16


Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, a.k.a. the Hearty Boys transform their catering facility/TV studio into a full-scale restaurant--with weekend brunch service.


Pasha Pasha restaurant is an exciting addition to the West Loop of Chicago. This unique gem is located on the corner of Halsted and West Randolph and serves authentic Spanish cuisine and offers live entertainment by renowned acts such as the Bandoleros. The Bandolereros Spanish Flamenco and Latin rhythm will ensure an authentic and exciting experience. The Spanish-inspired cuisine finds its roots in the Andalusia region, known for its bold, rustic fare. The variety of small plates like the Boquerones (marinated white anchovies with a garlic-almond puree) and the chicken and chorizo croquettes will keep you coming back time and again. In addition, Pasha has a variety of delicious soups and salads that will be changing seasonally. The main plates will transport the senses all the way to Spain with dishes such as the Merluza con Serrano, a grilled Serranno-wrapped cod, with a saffron rice croquette and salsa verde. Don’t leave without trying one of the Spanish-inspired cocktails or choosing from one of the many Spanish wines on the menu. Pasha is truly a culinary journey that is a delight for all food lovers!
La Farine


LM Le Restaurant
Chef Bradford Phillips formerly of Blackbird serves contemporary French cuisine.


Fame da Lupo


NYC restaurant known for killer tacos and a casual, yet upscale setting moves into the old Sugar/La Pomme Rouge space in Summer 2009.


A more approachable menu is on tap at aja (formerly ajasteak), which includes share-able plates, sushi and a new cocktail program.


Sabor Saveur
Contact Kate Anderson with comments or tips on restaurant openings...