There’s no shortage of great dining in Chicago, and these latest additions prove that the Windy City has no sign of slowing down. Head over to these seven Chicago restaurants sure to define your summer dining for any and all occasions.
The Golden Age of Hollywood has found its way to Chicago in the form of this newly opened Fulton Market restaurant. Glittering chandeliers, dark woods and oversized silvery booths bring 1950s glamour with a modern twist to the large space. The same can be said about BLVD’s menu. Kara Callero, owning partner of the restaurant, explains that the food is based off of American classics with global influences. The inspiration for this? Flavors and dishes that U.S. soldiers brought back home post WWII. Callero emphasizes that chef Ross Mendoza, who previously worked at Pump Room and James Beard Award-winning ABC Kitchen in New York, will not be recreating, but rather reimagining, dishes of yesteryear. Mendoza is committed to making dishes that are not overly fussy, but are still delicious, bright and imaginative. The menu includes knockout offerings such as a seafood tower and caviar service, along with Italian inspired oxtail ragu papardelle and Oceanic shrimp tempura with tamarind and lime. The plates are designed to work as both full entrees or bites to share over drinks with friends: a simple concept for the luxe environment. 817 W. Lake St., 312-526-3116, blvdchicago.com
James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina is recreating the flavors and ambiance of 1920s Paris on the third floor of the luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria Chicago. The San Francisco-based chef has 30 concept restaurants across the United States and is looking to bring classic French cuisine to Chicago’s diverse dining scene. His Chicago debut, Margueax Brasserie, combines classic French cooking with Midwestern comfort for a dining experience that is elegant without being pretentious. Chic marble surfaces, dark wood floors and gold accents give the space an old-time feel without being kitschy. The menu showcases brasserie classics such as Croque Madame and Escargot Bordelaise alongside Parisian cocktails, U.S. and French wines and a champagne cart with rotating selections. Feel the laid back glamour of a Parisian bistro while dining on dishes with local ingredients. 11 E. Walton St., 312-625-1324
Restaurant owner Emanuel Nony has opened his second restaurant, Proxi, next door to its predecessor, Sepia, in the West Loop. Chef Andrew Zimmerman has created a menu that is very deliberate in its technique, but unafraid of taking flavor risks to create dishes that showcase global flavors. The appetizer menu boasts Thai chili sauce, nahm prik paired with Spanish chicharrón, breaking down traditional flavor pairings for a dish that is flavorful and bold. Other standouts on the menu include lamb ribs with an Indian flare and a French cuisine-inspired pork porterhouse. The restaurant’s sleek style and warm finishes create an ambiance perfect for enjoying Chef Zimmerman’s worldly dishes. Full dining service at both the bar and patio, means shorter wait times and more options like a quick and casual tapas date or an evening long sit down dinner. 565 W. Randolph St., 312-466-1950, proxichicago.com
Split Rail has all the makings of a grown-up restaurant: a sophisticated industrial ambiance, a diverse and creative drink menu and Chef Zoë Schor’s creations on the menu. A closer look at the menu reveals the true essence of the restaurant, which is a playful return to childhood. “Bar Bites” like the chicken nuggets and “Split Rail Classics,” chips and dip and loaded baked potato gnocchi pack childhood flavors that everyone is nostalgic for into unique dishes that are definitely not our mother’s cooking. However gourmet Schor’s take is, she makes sure to preserve the simplicity of her inspiration dishes as her cooking is not only about the food, but the full experience. Split Rail is meant to take its diners back to a simpler, more innocent time. With Midwestern classics like green bean casserole and a pretzel surprise on the menu, it looks like Schor knows exactly what it takes to turn back the time for her Chicago eaters. 2500 W. Chicago Ave., 773-697-4413, splitrailchicago.com
DineAmic restaurant group is entering the ranks of Frontera Grill and Mercadito with their new River North restaurant, Barrio. Mexican robata-style grill is the vibe DineAmic is going for. Helping them achieve this is Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe who will be imbibing traditional Mexican street food with some Japanese flare. Additionally, a protein focused robata grill menu will showcase simple grilled meats like diver scallops and guajillo-glazed pork belly. The idea is for Barrio dishes to be inspired by Mexican classics while still appealing to diners who might not necessarily be in the mood for Mexican food. This universal appeal is reflected in Barrio’s decor which is quite extravagant yet acessible. Whimsical features like a grand, light up bar and booths that transform into cabanas keep the large space interesting. Multiple dining spaces also make the restaurant a destination for cocktail hour, dinner with friends or just a night out on the town. 65 W. Kinzie St., barriochicago.com
Veggie-centric dining has found its home in Wicker Park. Although not a fully vegetarian menu (Yes! You can still order a burger) Clever Rabbit is dedicated to dishes that flaunt the beauty and flavor of fresh, locally sourced vegetables. Owners Nick Pagor, Brad Serot, and Chris Haisma wanted the food at Clever Rabbit to challenge traditionally heavy and creamy restaurant vegetarian fare. Chef Matt Lair’s menu certainly meets this goal; plates like chilled greens and carrot dumplings are clean, fresh and distinctly light. The dedication to purity of flavor certainly does not translate to boring. Lair brings unique flavors to his dishes like fermented black beans with the Chinese broccoli. Additionally, the drink menu leaves little to be wanted with an extensive wine list and fun cocktails like the carrot margarita that upholds vegetable theme. For the diner looking for a different, healthier experience Clever Rabbit is Chicago’s new hotspot. 2015 W. Division St., 773-697-8711, cleverrabbitchicago.com
Kathryn Sullivan Alvera and Jason Clark are bringing the flavors of the world’s most famous wine regions to River North. Needless to say, these Champagne experts did not forget to bring the wine to pair with said flavors. Drinkers and diners have the option to order still or sparkling wines by the glass, half bottle, full bottle and magnum. Split into three distinct experiences, Marchesa gives Chicagoans options. The basement is all about the wine. The main level, dripping in drama, holds the bar and main dining room where Chef Mark Sabbe’s Spanish, French and Italian dishes (think ratatouille and Italian-style lamb) are served. The top floor is styled to imitate the most splendid of Parisian apartments and offers a private dining experience. Although the May opening has been delayed until an undetermined time this autumn, we realize that good things take time, and Marchesa is certain to be a good thing. 535 N. Wells St., marchesachicago.com