Sunday, June 23, 2024

Six New Restaurants to Try in Chicago

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Chicago has long been among America’s (and arguably the world’s) great dining cities.

Along with nostalgic deep dish pizza, fully loaded hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches (yes, we’re also anxiously awaiting the upcoming season of The Bear), the Windy City has cultivated great Mexican and Eastern European food, plus enough experimental tasting menus that it could take weeks to hit them all—if you can get a reservation.

From a ramen shop with a chef who cultivated a viral following on Reddit to a Ukrainian restaurant that’s an ode to the chef’s grandmother, a few things struck us as we scouted for this year’s Best New Restaurants list: The options continue to be more varied and interesting.

We’re not tipping our hand on whether any of these restaurants will be crowned as among the best in the country this September, but with the culinary eye on Chicago this weekend for the James Beard Awards—taking place June 8 through June 10 at Lyric Opera of Chicago—here are six restaurants that stood out from our most recent visits to Chicago.

Akahoshi Ramen

2340 N California Ave Suite B, Chicago, IL 60647

Reservations for this Logan Square ramen shop open up five weeks in advance but sell out in minutes. Chef-owner Mike Satinover, also known as “Ramen_Lord,” chronicled his self-taught journey of achieving ramen authority on Reddit for over a decade and then IRL with pop-ups before opening his own ramen shop in late 2023. At Akahoshi, his fastidious expertise is on display. The menu contains four types of ramen, plus rotating specials, two rice side dishes, and additions like extra noodles or an ajitama egg. Sitting at the kitchen counter is a front row seat to the theatrics—Satinover blow-torches each slice of fatty pork, throws bean sprouts into a smoky wok, and watches over the cooking of homemade noodles, available in two varieties: thin and crinkly for the two types of soup-filled bowls (Akahoshi miso and shoyu) and soft, thick noodles for the brothless varieties (tantanmen based loosely on Dandan noodles, and aburasoba, a soupless variant). On a good night, you might get lucky enough to have Satinover present your bowl of ramen, which can feel like a divine offering from the Ramen Lord himself.


3472 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

At Anelya in the Avondale hood, your first course rolls up to your table in the form of a zakusky cart, three tiers laden with appetizers like tiny trout-roe-adorned tarts, smoked herring, and ribbons of cold-cured pork fat. The Ukrainian-inspired restaurant from Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim—the James Beard Award–winning husband-wife duo behind the beloved (and soon-to-revamp and reopen) Parachute—is a tribute to Clark’s grandmother, the restaurant’s namesake. With a staff largely made up of native Ukrainians, the team dishes out varenyky with bacon-pecan praline, holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) with tomato sauce, kasha with brown butter, and of course, two types of borscht. Peep the entirely Eastern European wine list, stacked with bottles you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Chicago. Don’t leave without a giant slice of Kyiv cake, layered with hazelnut meringue, chocolate gianduja, and vanilla sponge cake that looks almost like a slab of rock sliced right out of the Grand Canyon.

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