New York-based Shake Shack has opened its first branch in River North in Chicago. Along with burgers, Vienna Beef hot dogs and crinkle cut fries, there are "concretes" (frozen custard) blended with ingredients from local companies Glazed and Infused Doughnuts and Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits. Shake Shack, 66 E. Ohio St., Chicago, IL 60611, 312-667-1701.
For a new modern American option, check out Evanston’s Boltwood, a farm-to-table spot from Brian Huston (ex-The Publican), showcasing everything from pristine oysters to aged sirloin with winter squash, black garlic and caperberry gremolata, and roasted pears with orange cake, figs and toasted almond ice cream. Expect interesting, but unfussy, sips to go with. Boltwood, 804 Davis St., Evanston, IL 60201, 847-859-2880.
Chef Homaro Cantu (iNG, Moto) is nearing the finish line with Berrista, a soon-to-open coffeehouse in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. While specifics have been fairly limited, the "miracle berry" is expected to be featured, along with donuts, sodas and chicken on a cheddar-bacon waffle with maple mustard. Berrista, 4219 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, IL 60641, no phone.
Takito’s Mario Ponce and Anshul Mangal plan to open counter-service ramen spot Furious Spoon, with Shin Thompson (Bonsoiree, Kabocha) in the kitchen. Thompson will make the noodles in-house, using a machine he brought back from Japan. Expect a handful of varieties, along with saké and beer, when it opens in February in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Furious Spoon, 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622, no phone.
For an updated take on Italian, give Billy Lawless' (The Gage) Acanto a whirl. Situated in the former Henri spot, you can bet something sustaining is on hand, whether you settle on suckling pig or creamy duck egg spaghetti with spicy ground pork, pearl onions and rapini, all courtesy of Chris Gawronski. Acanto, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603, 312-578-0763.
Boka Restaurant Group (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster) has opened Momotaro, a three-story Japanese joint in a former warehouse in the West Loop. D.C. transplant Mark Hellyar (Citronelle, Nora, and Blue Duck Tavern) handles the kitchen concoctions, while Jeff Ramsey (Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo) tackles the sushi. Momotaro, 820 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-733-4818.
“Top Chef” contestant Spike Mendelsohn (also of "Midnight Feast”) plans to open an offshoot of Good Stuff Eatery at 22 S. Wabash Ave. in the Loop by late November. Good Stuff Eatery, 22 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60603, no phone.
Jeff Mahin and Lettuce Entertain You opened Stella Barra Pizzeria, an industrial-feeling sister spot to Cali-style Summer House Santa Monica. The edited menu offers California-style red or white-sauced pizzas, meatballs and pastas, plus a list of boutique wines, craft (and draft) cocktails and microbrews. Stella Barra Pizzeria, 1954 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614, 773-634-4101.
The 2015 Return of Chicago Restaurant Week
Chicago Restaurant Week returns January 30-February 12, 2015, with prix-fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33/$44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). For a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.choosechicago.com
What’s Next at Next
Tickets are now available for the "Trio" menu at Next Restaurant. It revisits a menu chef Grant Achatz served in January 2004 that helped lead to the creation of Alinea. Next Restaurant, 953 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-226-0858.
Steve Morgan (ex-Alinea) will be the wine director at the soon-to-open red sauce spot Formento's, which comes courtesy of The Bristol crew. Formento's, 925 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607, no phone.
Dan Marquis, the former executive chef at Quay, moved on to head the kitchen at Epic. Epic, 112 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-222-4940.
Aaron Browning (Koda, Tavernita) replaced Gray McNally as the chef at clubby, classic Chicago-inspired Tortoise Club. Tortoise Club, 350 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-755-1700.
Lee Wolen is now the executive chef at Boka, replacing Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster). Boka, 1729 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614, 312-337-6070.
Chrissy Camba’s Laughing Bird closed after just five months in business. As of now, she plans to open a dumpling house elsewhere in the near future. Laughing Bird, 4514 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625, no phone.
Homaro Cantu’s West Loop eatery iNG has closed its doors. iNG, 951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, no phone.
It’s official, and heart-wrenching for Chicagoans: wildly popular Hot Doug’s is officially closed. A burger joint will open in its place. Hot Doug’s, 3324 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60618, no phone.
View archived news: October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014 | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014 | February 2014 | January 2014 | December 2013 | November 2013 | October 2013 | September 2013 | August 2013 | July 2013 | June 2013 | May 2013 | April 2013 | March 2013 | February 2013 | January 2013 | December 2012 | November 2012 | October 2012 | September 2012 | August 2012 | July 2012 | June 2012 | May 2012 | April 2012 | March 2012 | February 2012 | January 2012 | December 2011 | November 2011 | October 2011 | September 2011 | August 2011 | July 2011 | June 2011 | May 2011 | April 2011 | March 2011 | February 2011 | January 2011 | December 2010 | November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | August 2010 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | March 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | October 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008