The gist: Expect to be charmed at this Lakeview newcomer, thanks to warm, welcoming décor and comforting French-Canadian fare from chef Ryan Brosseau. He draws on his Ontario upbringing to inform a menu that is equally rooted in Midwestern sensibilities, made capable through the kitchen team’s close relations with local farmers and purveyors. It goes a long way in the hands of Brosseau, whose previous Chicago posts range from Perennial Virant to Table, Donkey, and Stick.
The food: Prepare for bold, earthy flavors beginning with apps like the Salt-Roasted Beet Salad (with celery root purée, caraway, and smoked trout roe) or Bone Marrow (with pickled smoked beef tongue, sweet farm onion, and toast) and moving onto mains like the Stuffed Saddle of Lamb (with prunes and pommes purée) or the Aged Duck Breast (with radicchio and smoked tea-honey glaze).
The cost: Starters $9 - $20, mains $23 - MP, wines by the glass $10 - $22.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.
The gist: Cured meats are central at Lardon, where chef Chris Thompson’s charcuterie program calls upon local farms and a nose-to-tail approach. Housed within a 110-year-old building, the interiors reflect the same patience and dedication modeled everyday here in the kitchen: A two-year buildout reveals exposed brick walls, original wood joists, and antique honeycomb tiled floors in an inviting, sun-washed space.
The food: The spectacle here is the charcuterie cave, a curing room celebrating the likes of Spicy Coppa, Bresaola, Saucisson Sec, Genoa Salame, and ‘Nduja. Guests can build a board of charcuterie or cheese cut to order, then ask the team for drink pairings that would prove apropos (think Aperitivi or Amari).
The cost: Starters $4 - $6, mains $14 - $31, cocktails $10 - $12, wines by the glass $8 - $16.
How to book: Reserve via Toast.
The gist: After an electrical fire shut down this restaurant in the summer of 2019 (a challenge made trickier by some pandemic-related delays), the team is finally reopening its doors to a refreshed space and menu.
The food: The agave-focused cocktail program handily complements a roster of regionally-inspired Mexican plates. Don’t miss favorites like Flank Steak Tacos or the Enchiladas with Mole Coloradito, washed down with a playful Cucurrucucu Paloma (Bahnez mezcal, toronja-vanilla shrub, grapefruit, Squirt).
The cost: Starters $2 - $12, mains $9 - $23, cocktails $10 - $14.
How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out via Toast.
The gist: What started as a twice monthly (and highly decorated) pop-up has emerged as Claudia, a tasting menu-driven destination from chef Trevor Teich in the heart of Bucktown. Set within an 1880s-era cottage, the space spotlights rich fabrics, warm lighting, and a neutral palette that perfectly underscores Teich’s colorful plates.
The food: A constantly evolving, 10-course tasting menu greets guests in the main dining room (alongside thoughtful, Old World wine pairings from sommelier Jessica Dennis), while the Bar at Claudia offers a la carte options steeped in finesse and fun (Prime Tenderloin with foie gras; an Individual Lobster Pot Pie with fennel and that iconic flaky crust). The bar team boasts a repertoire of more than 100 different cocktails, including one featuring Burgundy truffles and four types of whisky (“A Tale As Old As Time”—and one worthy of retelling).
The cost: 10-course menu $225, Chef's Table menu $265, standard wine pairing $125, reserve wine pairing $185, The Bar at Claudia cocktails $16 - $27, The Bar at Claudia plates $16 – 70.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.
The gist: The Boka team strikes again with this recent arrival, where chef Lee Wolen helms a menu rooted in family-style Italian fare. Kehoe Designs is responsible for the garden-esque décor throughout the space, a (most timely) move on their part to bring the outdoors in with the help of flowing fabrics, hand painted floral floors, and one powerhouse of a pergola.
The food: The menu is divided into six categories: antipasti, salads, homemade pastas, pizza, al forno, and veggies, meaning there’s something for everyone in your party. Don’t miss the cacio e pepe ricotta dumplings or fennel sausage pizza, or, of course, Wolen’s chicken. He’s made a case for the oft-overlooked protein at Boka and GG’s Chicken Shop, and his version here, chicken parmesan with fire roasted tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, is no exception.
The cost: Antipasti $12 - $22, mains $18 - $78, cocktails $12 - $15, wines by the glass $12 - $19.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
The gist: Philanthropy, art, and elevated cooking converge at this hotly anticipated newcomer from chef Jenner Tomaska (who formerly spearheaded the whimsical quarterly concepts at Next). The walls here function as a canvas for local creatives (including Amanda Rivera, who designed Bar Esmé’s custom wallpaper), while plateware serves the same purposes for Tomaska’s creations, dynamic displays of art in their own right.
The food: Enjoy a comprehensive tasting menu in the main dining room (between 12 and 16 courses), and choose your own a la carte adventure at Bar Esmé, where orders like Pumpkin Soup, Seafood Almondine, and Upside Down Cake await.
The cost: Main dining room tasting menu $200, a la carte orders at Bar Esmé $15 - $95.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.