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!
On May 11, the Windy City welcomed a new food hall with a chef-driven focus. The elevated market, which has sister locations in Houston, New Orleans, and Miami, features a diverse array of food vendors including vegetable-forward dishes from Smashed Radish (Sarah Weitz and Sam Barron), Chris Reed’s Cajun-Indonesian dishes at Bumbu Roux, and modern Middle Eastern dishes at Yosi and Aviva Alhadif’s LaShuk Street Food.
On the beverage front, Politan Row houses a modernist beer garden crafted from a shipping container and Bar Politan, a cocktail bar mixing up drinks like The Politan (vodka, elderflower, grapefruit, and bitter bianco) and a margarita-inspired drink dressed up with pomegranate, bergamot, and chiles. 111 North Aberdeen.
The word rooh means “soul” and, fittingly, executive chef Sujan Sarkar brings his soulful approach to regional Indian cuisine at Rooh. Sarkar’s menu offers dishes like tuna chaat with green mango, chilled melon rasam, and puffed black rice and beef short rib served with madras curry, and a semolina-coated bone marrow croquette. For dessert, a creamy custard served with fresh mango and honey comb satisfies.
Rooh’s beverage program also stands out for its unique approach. Diners can choose from a variety of cocktails that are based on Ayurveda and its six “tastes”—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter. The Malabar old-fashioned (in the “bitter” section), for example, pairs bourbon, coco-almond, coffee bitters, and maple syrup. 736 West Randolph; 312-459-7750.
Chef Dave Park and Jen Tran recently opened this modern Korean restaurant as a follow up to their acclaimed restaurant, Hanbun. Inspired by childhood memories of cooking with his grandmother in Korea, Park’s menu is rooted in tradition but with a contemporary twist. Highlights include silken tofu and king crab with maesil (Korean plum) and chili-braised fern, and duck confit with kabocha squash, sesame leaf kimchi, and duck and gochujang jus.
The front of house experience at the 40-seat restaurant is elegant and warm. Servers wear uniforms inspired by traditional Korean hanbok dresses and the decor follows suit with rice paper wall dividers and a soft glow from hammered brass lighting. 1460 West Chicago Ave; 312-877-5016.
On May 22, the team behind the two-Michelin starred Oriole and Kumiko will welcome a new 7-course omakase-style tasting menu in the space just below Kumiko. Chefs Noah Sandoval and Mariya Russell will offer refined dishes like confit pork and prawn dumplings, miyazaki beef with sesame, golden cordyceps, and shio kombu, and Kumiko’s well-known Japanese milk toast with fermented honey and truffle.
The subterranean space will be sleek and stylish with a vintage stereo playing vinyl serving as a visual centerpiece. The beverage program, helmed by creative director Julia Momose, will offer curated pairings for each course will include a variety of sake, cocktails, and other spirits. 630 West Lake; 312-285-2912.
Fans of great Italian and Polish food, baseball, or both will be delighted by this collaboration between legendary Cubs manager Joe Maddon and James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano. Based in Wrigelyville, a stone’s throw from the iconic stadium, the restaurant serves a mashup of both cuisines—think: pork and sauerkraut pierogi with pickled mustard seeds, woodfired pizzas topped with spinach and clams, and handmade pappardelle with pancetta, caramelized cabbage, and fontina.
The generous, 7,400-square-foot dining room is anchored by a custom-built dual hearth and outfit with plush booths and an Art Deco-era vibe. On the weekends, orange zest and blueberry pierogi, crisp potato latkes, and creamy polenta topped with poached eggs and tomato-braised brisket beckon, whether it is game day or not. 1119 West Waveland; 773-269-5370.