Where to Eat in Chicago Right Now

Courtesy Flora Fauna

From new restaurants to visiting chefs, these Chicago restaurants are where you should be eating right now.

Chicago may not always receive the same level hype of its coastal sister cities like New York and Los Angeles. But the Windy City is filled with wonderful places to dine. From iconic hotdogs, deep dish pizza, under-the-radar taquerieas, and gravy-dipped Italian beef sandwiches to buzzy hotspots and Michelin-starred fine dining (think: Grant Achatz, Noah Sandoval, Rick Bayless), there is no shortage of exceptional dining opportunities. Each month, Departures will check in with Chi-town to mine the most exciting new restaurants, chef collaborations, pop-ups, and other culinary events happening across the city. Check back regularly to stay up to date!

Belen Aquino

Superkhana International

In mid-July, Chicago welcomed this collaboration between chefs Yoshi Yamada (Lula Cafe, Blackbird), Zeeshan Shah (The Biscuit Man, Old Town Social) and Jason Hammel (Marisol, Pilot Light). Inspired by Yamada and Shah’s successful pop-up project, Bombay Breakdown, the restaurant celebrates flavors from Indian cuisine with a decidedly American touch.

The menu is filled with creative and playful dishes like butter chicken supreme—a naan calzone stuffed with butter chicken, mozzarella, and amul cheese, and pork belly vindaloo with guajillo chiles and champagne vinegar. The drinks menu, helmed by beverage director Colleen Malone, features champagne, cider, sparkling punch and signature cocktails like the Superkhana Old Fashioned (ghee bourbon, jaggery, and Mackey's Boker's bitters). 3059 Diversey Ave; 773-661-9028.

Courtesy Flora Fauna

Floral Fauna

Last month, husband-and-wife team chef Jonathan Meyer and mixologist Liz Pearce opened this global-rustic restaurant inspired by the couple’s travels in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Pearce’s cocktail menu is crafted with an eye towards eco-friendly practices in addition to flavor. Draft cocktails and wines are available alongside original cocktails like the Basic Beach (mezcal, coconut, lime, strawberry, and soda) and a Yuzu Daiquiri (white rum, yuzu sake, lime, and sesame oil floated on top).

On the kitchen side, Meyer delved deeply into learning the different cuisines represented on the menu. His globally-inspired dishes are categorized as either “flora” (plant-based) or “fauna” (meat-based). Featured items include seared baby octopus with green plantain shoestrings, charred avocado puree, and gooseberry, jerk pork shank with fried rice, and braised jackfruit dan dan served with chilled papaya noodles and crushed cashews. 11 W. Illinois St; 312-624-9276.

Courtesy Chiya Chai

Chiya Chai: Chicago Riverwalk

Logan Square’s beloved Nepalise restaurant and teahouse just opened a new location in the Chicago Riverwalk’s Michigan Avenue Marketplace. The Riverwalk location brews seven varieties of chai including mango, blueberry-lavender, and coconut. In addition to the tea, they offer lassis and a curated list of South Asian dishes. Flaky masala chicken pies are joined by vegetable curries, bison dumplings with ginger and garlic, and crunchy samosas, among other treats. 65 E. Riverwalk South; 773-360-7541.

Courtesy The Whale

The Whale

High rollers are welcome at this casino-inspired restaurant outfit with a posh tiled floor, elegant chandeliers, and a vintage slot machine. The dinner menu begins with lobster tacos with mango salsa and lime crema and caviar devilled eggs. It continues with romesco-sauced lamb chops, korean-glazed short ribs, and charred cauliflower steaks with za’atar and pomegranate.

The cocktail menu also evokes the glamour of high-stakes gambling with decadent drinks like “North of Havana” (pineapple-infused Old Forrester, coconut milk, and cilantro-lemongrass syrup) and “Hop the Seven” (gin, pamplemousse, guava, and citrus-hop syrup). 2427 N. Milwaukee Ave; 773-825-2900.

Allen Hemberger

St. Clair Supper Club

Fans of the Alinea group welcomed a casual, Midwestern supper club-inspired restaurant (named after chef Grant Achatz’s Michigan hometown) in early July. Located in the basement of Alinea’s Roister Restaurant, the menu features a variety of elevated classics. There’s shrimp cocktail, oysters Rockefeller, and crab cakes with tartar sauce to begin. The main event includes prime rib (diners choose their cut) served with sides like steak frites, English creamed corn, Yorkshire pudding, and other dishes. 951 W. Fulton Market.