New Chicago Kitchens Topping the Must-Visit Lists

America's best restaurant city is not retreating from its reputation one iota.

Superkhana International combines India's traditional flavors with local Chicago ingredients and Pizzeria Portofino does the Riviera Chicago style with hand-stretched pizzas and charcoal grilled seafood on an expansive patio on the RiverWalk. 

Innovative cookery is reaching beyond the West Loop and River North environs warming up diners to go beyond the expected. Maddon's Post riffs on Polish and Italian cuisine less than block from Wrigley Field. Taureaux Tavern brings classic and innovative French cuisine as well as a year-round covered outdoor pergola to the heart of The Loop. Wicker Park's new "French-ish" restaurant, Café Cancale, is a happy marriage of traditional French cooking techniques and fine Midwestern ingredients in a polished casual atmosphere. That and and 35 kinds of oysters. On the Mag Mile, daily made mozzarella and burrata cheese add a web of richness and comfort to pizzas and panini courtesy of The Mozzarella Store, Pizza and Caffè. City Hall plays with the city's shady rep and lively character through live music, tasty sandwiches and stiff drinks. Ramen is nothing new to Chicago but Kinton Ramen invites you to a little slice of Japan in Fulton Market. 

The Hoxton Hotel opened in the busy Fulton Market district and added three new venues from the Boka Restaurant Group. Cira, a modern Mediterranean restaurant on the ground floor is a winner. Diners look forward to Avli expanding to River North when it opens a bilevel “Inspired Greek” concept with a large outdoor patio in fall of 2019.  



Fulton Market

Popular Canadian import, Kinton Ramen, had a successful launch in Fulton Market and witnesses a steady flow of noodlers. The chain is about to debut a second Chicago location in Wicker Park at the end of October, 2019. Dubbing itself the "Ultimate Japanese Ramen Experience," Kinton Ramen aims for an authentic culinary trip to Japan via executive chef Aki Urata's commitment to serving the highest quality broth and noodles. Plus, orders are voiced in Japanese, ramen is served with wooden ladles and the space is designed in a modern, Kyoto-style minimalist fashion. The rich broth is made from scratch simmering pork and chicken bones for over 20 hours: pork has a nice char and the fried chicken in karaage ramen stands up to the shoyu or spicy broth and noodles. Choose thin or thick noodles and any of 18 add-ins. You can also get Original Karaage solo to dip into garlic mayo. Cold apps includes Takowasabi, marinated octopus with wasabi stem and torched sushi-grade salmon over daikon. Dumplings, rice dishes, vegetarian items, mochi, sake, and cocktails round out the menu.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Kinton Ramen's commitment to high quality product and aim to offer an authentic ramen restaurant experience puts it on the "eat map."

Jacky's expert tip: There are often deals like a 32 oz Sapporo with spicy or original karaage chicken for $15 - big enough for two!

Read more about Kinton Ramen →

If cheese is your jam, make this your next Mag Mile destination and envision slathering truffle burrata on freshly baked bread. The venue gets most of its goods from Golfo di Napoli Dairy, in Warren, IN owned by the cafe's proprietors. "Fior di Latte" and burrata, however, are made by on-site by an Italian cheesemaker every day - so enjoy the show. In addition to cheese and meat boards, the menu features pizza Napoletana exiting the wood-burning oven at a steady pace, salads, calzoni and panini. The Diavola pizza is a burst of flavors with fior di latte, San Marzano tomato, spicy salame, basil and anchovies. Have a perfect cup of espresso or creamy latte made on a classic pull-down lever espresso machine sided with any of the home-made pastries (sfogliatella, a flaky, layered pastry filled with sweetened ricotta, is a sure thing). Sip Italian wines and beers and buy imported food products. too.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The restaurant and specialty retail shop steps from Michigan Ave. offers daily made "Fior di Latte" mozzarella and burrata, Neapolitan pizzas and great coffee.

Jacky's expert tip: Although the address is on Michigan Ave. the venue is just west of the street across from the historic Water Tower.

Read more about The Mozzarella Store, Pizza & Caffé →

Thank you, Taureaux Tavern, for bringing classic and innovative cuisine and a year-round covered outdoor pergola to the heart of The Loop. That it's elevated French dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, makes it even better. Launch your day with a Nitro cold brew (spiked or not) and soft cooked eggs with a crispy Croque Monsieur and avocado half or a skillet apple pancake. The kitchen turns out lovely lunch dishes not seen in these parts for decades: foie gras paté; oxtail and bone marrow; towers of chilled seafood; large chopped salads featuring everything from steak frites and smoked whitefish; plus burgers and sandwiches and substantial entrees. The dinner menu is similar with the addition of "plats du jour" like Dover sole and steak au poivre. There are well-curated wines by the glass to hoist your meal to "magnifique" magnitude.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The Loop gets some amour with Taureaux Tavern - elevated French food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Jacky's expert tip: Brunch is served on Saturday only. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.

Read more about Taureaux Tavern →


Maddon's Post, the brainchild of chef, Tony Mantuano of Michelin-starred Spiaggia; Cubs' Manager Joe Maddon; and Executive Chef Aaron Thebault (formerly of Girl & the Goat), reimagines the Italian and Polish dishes of Maddon's childhood with a modern touch. Excellent hand-folded pierogi, satisfying wood-fired pizzas (trust us - try the mortadella cups version) and hand-made pastas elevate Wrigleyville's bar grub without any fussiness. Share crispy squares of pork dunked into bay leaf aioli or Dorothy's potato pancake - the kind of vittles Polish grandmas served atop Formica kitchen tables. Among the pastas, Mama K'S pappardelle with pancetta, onions, cabbage and Fontina hits it out of the ball park. Although beer on draft is limited, there are cans and bottles; innovative cocktails, thoughtful wine selections, grogs and local coffee. Little leaguers get their own menu and rooftop views pair well with large format craft punches.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Polish and Italian peasant food with a modern flair, rooftop views and friendly confines are a winning combo at this new Wrigleyville spot.

Jacky's expert tip: Box up some of your entree so you have room for chocolate paczki - the pre-Lenten pastry offered here year round.

Read more about Maddon's Post →

One might think another pizzeria in Chicago would elicit yawns, however, Pizzeria Portofino is as hot as its ovens, busy from open to close. Is it the sun-drenched and airy location on the Chicago riverfront and incredible patio views? Yes, but the hand-stretched pizzas made with stone-ground Midwestern grains, vegetable antipasti, artisanal pastas, house made sesame semolina bread, charcoal-grilled seafood and coastal wines have much to do with its popularity, too. Finish with a granita or gelato and you have an easy entry in gratitude journal. Weekend brunch brings Bellinis, Bloody Marys, pancakes, egg dishes, brunch pizza and the same sunny vistas. Located on river level, Pizzeria Portofino is accessible via the Clark Street Bridge stairs.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: While not exactly the Riviera, Pizzeria Portofino does it Chicago style with hand-stretched pizzas and an expansive patio that locals and visitors are loving.

Jacky's expert tip: There's boat docking daily from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. in partnership with Downtown Docks, plus a Marina Menu so sailors can pull up their boats and carry out food for a day on Lake Michigan.

Read more about Pizzeria Portofino →

Indian cuisine may be in a state of renaissance in Chicago and the new Superkhana International is just another indicator. Expect vivid Indian colors, patterns and palettes amid lime-washed brick and an indoor courtyard supplying lots of natural light. A joint venture of chefs Yoshi Yamada (Lula Cafe, Blackbird), Zeeshan Shah (Old Town Social, The Bristol) and Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol), the eatery targets Indian flavors via 18 modern vegetable and non-vegetable dishes that change with the seasons. Try Chapli Kebob Salad (lamb and beef kebab, Asian greens, yogurt dressing) or the butter chicken supreme, a naan calzone stuffed with butter chicken and mozzarella and amul cheese. Super seasonal veg dishes make it easy to get more greens: patty pan squash with baby onions for example. Who wouldn't want to try a Bombay Sandwich described as a "Mumbai psychedelic grilled cheese...with many, many things."

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Superkhana International offers "Indian-ish" dishes in a sensual space in a section of Logan Square with decent parking.

Jacky's expert tip: The bright modern eatery has a nice selection of bubbly beverages that pair well with "Indian-ish" food.

Read more about Superkhana International →

Fulton Market

You can't go wrong with any of the Boka Restaurant Group's venues in the new Hoxton Hotel Chicago - Cabra, Cira and Lazy Bird. Chef Partner of Cira, Chris Pandel, created an all-day Mediterranean menu and even breakfast is truly exciting. If you've been searching for Turkish breakfast ever since that trip to Istanbul, come to Fulton Market. The spread of marinated goat cheese, cucumber salad, olives, hard boiled egg, whipped yogurt, simit (a Turkish sesame bagel), seasonal preserves and muhammara - a red pepper/walnut spread - is beautiful, bountiful yet light. Opt for Turkish coffee service to accompany. Lunch brings warm curried chicken sandwiches, salads and lamb shwarma and dinner get punched up with Spanish anchovy toast, fantastic pastas like Pistachio Ravioli and large plates starring land and sea items. House-made desserts like Huckleberry Cheesecake and honey sesame brittle ice cream complete the perfect culinary circle.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Cira's menu befits the Zeitgeist of smaller portions of healthy and delicious Mediterranean goodies.

Jacky's expert tip: Need your bacon and eggs? Cira also serves classic American breakfasts including overnight oats and French toast that's as lovely to look at as eat.

Read more about Cira →

Open in June, 2019, City Hall plays with the city's shady rep ("Corruption Free Since 2019" and "Raising Glasses, Not Taxes) as well as its lively character through live music, great food and stiff drinks. Water cooler conversation will never be the same when you order a large format cocktail like The Crony or Rum Emmanuel that arrives in an actual water cooler. You can get your Alderman's Choice or Royko's Revenge drink spirit-free, boozy or with added CBD. The compact food menu lists starters like pigs-in-a-blanket, wings and popcorn shrimp; a couple salads; and a bunch of sandwiches. Like the original City Hall where "da Mayor" works, this one is large and busy, minus any of the drama of parking ticket fines and council meetings. You do, however, get your check tucked into a parking ticket sleeve. It's lively and casual with a spacious outdoor seating area.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The come-as-you-are gathering spot in the hot West Loop pays homage to Chicago with tongue-in-cheek drinks and elevated bar food. .

Jacky's expert tip: City Hall is perfect for large groups with it open flowing design, spacious patio and expansive bar.

Read more about City Hall →

It's new, it's loud and it's packed. Those attributes alone may appeal to diners who want to avoid FOMO. The Smith is a a NYC import that many Chicagoans and visitors have welcomed into its adopted home in River North. The Smith's Chicago menu offers city-specific items such as cast-iron cooked pizza, in addition to the eatery's staples like Smitty's Spicy Fried Chicken, Ricotta Gnocchi with truffle cream, steaks and nightly specials: think fish tacos, lobster night, and Prime rib. Some of The casual brasserie's unique items include smoked whitefish tots and vegetable bibimbap. Bartenders employ small-batch and local liquors, seasonal produce, and house-made syrups in the boozy libations. Happy Hour in the bar (everyday) is wildly popular with $1 oysters, snacks, cocktails on tap for $8 and draft beer specials.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The Smith works for Happy Hour, date night and a friends' outing especially if you are attracted to a boisterous atmosphere.

Jacky's expert tip: When the weather's nice. ask for a spot near the windows which open for an al fresco experience without having to be right on busy Clark St.

Read more about The Smith →

Although Wicker Park will never be mistaken for the coast of Brittany, France, you can still get a sense of of its joie de vivre via a seasonal selection of pristine seafood and oysters at the lively Café Cancale. No need to fret about Gallic stuffiness because the"French-ish" restaurant is a happy marriage of traditional French cooking techniques and fine Midwestern ingredients in a polished-yet-casual atmosphere. Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine AJ Walker (Publican Anker, Publican Quality Meats, The Publican) clearly know their West Coast Kusshi from their East Coast Blish Points but there's so much more than briny bivalves here. From a starter like Yellow Chickories with smoked eel, poached egg, bacon and potato crisp to a perfect Trout Amandine bathing in a moat of brown butter, everything seems to say, "Que c'est bon"! The space is as cheery as raw bar diners during Happy Hour. Choose among a long list of French and coastal wines and drinks inspired by the 1920's.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: With more than 35 (rotating) oysters and fresh seafood delivered daily, Café Cancale is an original, bright spot in the sea of Wicker Park eateries.

Jacky's expert tip: If it's French, you must have dessert (like a coffee and chocolate éclair), Sparrow coffee or at least an after dinner Sazerac.

Read more about Café Cancale →


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky