House-made tortillas and handcrafted draft cocktails will be the signatures of Fat Baby Tacos in River North, set to open in spring 2017. Choose from five styles of tacos and burritos, stuffed with slow-roasted chicken and carnitas, char-broiled steak and shrimp, and vegetarian-friendly queso and veggies. A 12-seat, all-season patio showcases a plant-inspired mural by local artist Kasi Turpin. Fat Baby Tacos, 109 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60654, no phone.
A refurbished Wonder Bread truck acting as a barista station is the focal point of Werewolf Coffee Bar in West Lincoln Park, the first coffee bar from DMK Restaurants. Look for a menu listing local java blends from Dark Matter and Metropolis Coffee, as well as Rishi Organic Teas from Milwaukee. Werewolf Coffee Bar, 1765 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL 60642, 773-977-7673.
DineAmic Group will open Barrio in the heart of River North in summer 2017. "Top Chef" alum Katsuji Tanabe will helm the upscale, rustic Mexican concept. The restaurant will feature Mexican street food, a Mexican-style robata grill and dishes such as guajillo-glazed Berkshire pork belly and grilled diver scallop with poblano-uni relish. Barrio, 65 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL 60654, no phone.
Stylish, globally inspired plates shine at Entente, an intimate Lakeview restaurant. Intent on syncing with neighborhood and destination diners, the eatery makes a big impression with its well-edited menu driven by chef Brian Fisher (formerly of Schwa). Entente, 3056 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60657, 872-206-8553.
Katana from Innovative Dining Group will open in Chicago’s River North. The West Hollywood location of the Japanese/sushi restaurant features dishes like robata skewers of chicken liver and rockfish, and a dry-aged steak cooked over binchotan charcoal. Now-relocated Bin 36 formerly occupied this Dearborn Street space. Katana, 339 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60654, No phone.
The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet will open in a 7,000-square-foot building in the West Loop as a modern-day wine bar with craft beer, cocktails and a small plates menu. The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet, 736 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661, no phone.
Chef Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) will open Proxi, a more casual, globally inspired restaurant, in late Spring 2017. Proxi, 565 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60661, 312-441-1920.
Chef Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next Restaurant, Roister) and Nick Kokonas have begun construction on a new, as-yet-unnamed project.
New Look for Topolobampo
Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican restaurant Topolobampo has unveiled a new design for the dining room, including and undulating wood ceiling. Topolobampo, 445 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610, 312-661-1434.
Fig & Olive Launches Tea Service
Attention ladies who tea: Fig & Olive offers tea service Wednesday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. For $35, enjoy traditional savory and sweet high tea menu items such as smoked salmon profiteroles, heirloom tomato tartlet, zucchini bread and white chocolate dried cranberry scones served with vanilla crème fraîche and honey butter, macarons and more. Upgrade to Royal Tea service (which includes Moët & Chandon Champagne) for $19 more. Reservations required. Fig & Olive, 104 E. Oak St., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-445-0060.
The James Beard Awards Returns to Chicago on May 1
Witness one of the highlights of the year in the gastronomic world at the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards & Gala Reception. During this event known as the "Oscars of the Food Industry," see which professionals throughout America, from chefs to spirits professionals, are recognized for their extraordinary excellence and achievements. The culinary ceremony will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. To find out more information, visit the official website
Chef Dirk Flanigan has left his post at Ocean Cut. He was instrumental in the reconcepting of the River North seafood spot (formerly known as C Chicago). Ocean Cut, 20 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-280-8882.
Chicagoland native Nick Dostal has taken over as executive chef of Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. Previously the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, Dostal also helped open Grace and worked as chef de partie at Ria. He draws upon influences of classical French, regional Italian and New American fare. His menu will launch in spring 2017. Sixteen, Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, 401 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-588-8030.
Chef/restaurateur Michael Mina will open a restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago hotel. Waldorf Astoria Chicago, 11 E. Walton St., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-646-1300.
Comfort food spot Buck's in Wicker Park has shuttered. Buck's, 1700 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622, no phone.
Robinson's No. 1 Ribs in Lincoln Park has closed. Robinson's No. 1 Ribs, 655 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614, no phone.
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Find out which restaurants and chefs top the list of GAYOT's 2016 Annual Restaurant Awards.