The Michigan Avenue team shares insights and insider tips about the hottest bars and restaurants in Chicago right now.
BAPTISTE & BOTTLE Bourbon is the keyword at this Conrad Hotel hot spot spearheaded by globetrotting chef Richard Sandoval, who crafts inspired American plates—chicory and gorgonzola salad, triple-seared prime NY strip—to pair with smart cocktails like the Southside Mule (local Koval bourbon, pineapple-rosemary shrub, ginger). 101 E. Erie St., 20th Fl., 312-667-6793
BAR ROMA The meatball craze hits Andersonville with this buzzing new Italian destination, which tempts with 5 kinds of ’balls (lamb, pork belly, chicken, veal, and good old ground beef) plus house-made pastas, all whipped up by veteran chef Fred Ramos. 5101 N. Clark St., 773-942-7572
BODEGA As if the ACME Hotel weren’t already a hotbed of craft cocktails (Berkshire Room anyone?), the surging Fifty/50 Restaurant Group has opened this upstairs sister venue serving “all things fizzy, frosty, and boozy.” 15 E. Ohio St., 312-894-0945
BROKEN ENGLISH TACO PUB Mexican street food gets the Technicolor treatment at this vibrant, whimsical new destination from Chicago restaurant legend Phil Stefani. Offerings include 12 kinds of tacos (shrimp, barbacoa, carne asada), plus snacks like achiote hummus and street corn hush puppies. 75 E. Lake St.,312-929-3601
COCO CHAMPAGNE LOUNGE Nightlife impresario Andy Li (TR Napa Valley) returns with this new addition to Hubbard Street’s buzzing dining and drinking scene, a posh, multi-level restaurant and wine bar set to open in early ’17 in the heart of River North. 23 W. Hubbard St.
ENTENTE Owner Ty Fujimura (Arami) has assembled an all-star team including Brian Fisher (Schwa) and pastry chef Mari Katsumura (Grace, Acadia) to bring casual, super-seasonal fare—expressed in a tight list of offerings from chicken liver mousse with Concord grape jelly to fettucine with white truffle and Brussels sprouts—to Lakeview. 3056 N. Lincoln Ave., 872-206-8553
FIFOLET CAJUN & COCKTAILS Named after the blue lights that float above the Louisiana bayou, this buzzing new destination brings New Orleans spice to the always-buzzing Wicker Park dining scene. Dig into classics like fried green tomatoes, gumbo, shrimp Creole, and po’boys; boozy offerings include planter’s punch, Sazeracs, and French 75s. Insider tip: Save room for dessert, which includes beignets and bananas Foster pie. 1942 W. Division St., 773-384-6886
THE FLAMINGO RUM CLUB From Caribbean-inspired tapas to luxe bottle service and a bar serving up mojitos, daiquiris, and caipirinhas, this island-inspired restaurant and cabaret aims to bring the spirit of Havana to River North. Insider tip: Wednesdays feature a can’t-miss cabaret starting at 9pm. 601 N. Wells St., 312-929-0060
INCOME TAX Europe is the focus of this newcomer to Edgewater, from the smartly curated list of wines, sherries, beers, and ciders to the selection of wine-friendly plates, including bacalao, pâté, lamb meatballs, and Black Forest duck with spaetzle. 5959 N. Broadway, 773-897-9165
SPILT MILK Logan Square’s latest must-try for cocktails, a classy throwback establishment with a gorgeous mahogany bar and a compelling drink list featuring Concord grape juleps and Madras margaritas, plus pineapple soft serve topped with the cocktail du jour. 2758 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-413-8440
WON FUN CHINESE Sichuan-style dining and drinking hits Restaurant Row with the arrival of this double destination, featuring a 60-seat ground floor family-style restaurant serving classics like Beijing-style duck and Ma Po tofu (Won Fun) and a second-floor craft cocktail and karaoke lounge and dim sum hangout (2Fun). 905 W. Randolph St., 312-877-5967
ESCAPEHOUSE CHICAGO The escape room craze hits River North with this high-tech two-room attraction, where teams of participants role play as spies or secret service agents as they strategize, solve puzzles, and work together under pressure to emerge victorious in under 60 minutes. 54 E. Ontario St., 312-981-6633