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 November 21, the Windy City will welcome a highly anticipated food and cultural market curated by the editorial team at Time Out Chicago. (It will be one of several Time Out Markets that have recently opened in cities across the world.) The 50,000-square-foot, three-floor space will offer a bonanza of culinary delights from the jasmine rice ale by Michelin-starred brewpub Band of Bohemia and pasta-making classes at Tortello to Funkenhausen’s Southern-Bavarian mashup cuisine and Pretty Cool Ice Cream’s artisan scoops. An array of cultural experiences—drag queen story time, holiday craft markets, wellness workshops—will set the Time Out Market apart from other food halls. 916 Fulton Market; 312-637-7888
Chicago’s upscale Greek restaurant just opened a beautiful and hotly anticipated location in the River North neighborhood. Chef/Partner Louie Alexakis’s menu merges tradition and innovation. Comforting starters like the creamy lemon-egg soup avgolemono and saganaki (kefalogravieria cheese served with spiced fig marmalade and greek honey) are joined by showstoppers including a circa 1910 recipe for moussaka that pairs roasted lamb shoulder and tomato sauced eggplant under a cloud of baked bechamel. Seafood dishes like a fishermen’s stew in saffron-ouzo broth and pan-seared sea bass with creamed wild greens are also highlighted.
Avli’s clean, white stucco and wood-accented design brings Greece’s sunny warmth to chilly Chicago. And in the summer when the temperatures rise, the two-floor dining area expands to a breezy outdoor patio. 702 N. Wells St.; 312-643-5656
Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood recently welcomed the rebirth of this Mexican American-inspired cafe. Founded by Tijuana-born siblings, Jazmin, Diana, and Christian Medrano, the newly revamped space has a vibrant Baja vibe outfit with clusters of succulents and hand-printed blue tiles lining the counter.
The drinks menu includes Mexican spiced coffee with cinnamon and piloncillo (raw dark sugar) and Mexican hot chocolate along with a full line up of coffee and espresso drinks made with Passion House Coffee Roasters beans. And the menu will soon feature an array of Mexican American influenced dishes. 1641 W. 18th St; 312-796-3151
Michelin-starred chef Carlos Gaytán recently opened this deeply personal, visually stunning Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. The menu melds contemporary and traditional flavors to offer dishes like ceviche verde with cobia, cured fresh cactus, and cactus sorbet, stuffed poblanos with wild mushroom, and pork pibil with avocado-infused black beans and habanero pickled red onions. Even the guacamole is enlivened with aged Huitzuco cheese.
The 110-seat restaurant is designed to evoke Gaytán’s hometown of Huitzuco. It is one of three interconnected restaurants he is opening on the same property this fall. Panango, a bakery, will serve sandwiches and breads. And Tales of Carlos Gaytán will offer fine dining via a 16-seat tasting menu. Starting this week, Tzuco will also offer brunch. 720 State St.; 312-374-8995