by Amy Cavanaugh
With new restaurants opening seemingly every day, how are you supposed to keep track of them all? We’ve rounded up some of the most notable Chicago openings of the past few months so you can better focus your dining energies.
III Forks, a steakhouse with a killer rooftop space, is located in Lakeshore East, a hot new residential area. Head to the restaurant for thick steaks, seafood, or other classics like a wedge salad and shrimp cocktail. For a more casual meal, grab a spot in the lounge for specialty martinis, like an apple martini (it’s nothing like the neon green appletinis you’re used to), and nosh on tobiko deviled eggs, lamb meatballs, and Kobe sliders.
The first Chicago outpost of a Mexican food chain, Cantina Laredo serves up a punchy guacamole, a selection of tacos with filings like mahi mahi or carnitas, and a well-made margarita. The menu dubs itself “modern Mexican,” and you’ll also find tortas, enchiladas, and brunch specials like huevos rancheros. The two-level space has a dining room and sleek bars, ideal for grabbing a post-work drink.
It feels like every month a new burger joint opens, but the latest, Butcher and the Burger lets you create your own masterpiece. Start by choosing your bun (wheat, pretzel, croissant, or egg), then pick your patty (wagyu grass-fed beef, free-range turkey, and vegan, among others), and a spice mix (like Cajun, steakhouse, umami glaze). Then select from toppings like BBQ sauce, pickles, LTO, cheddar, mozzarella, and more. Go gourmet with extras like mushrooms, avocado, and truffle aioli. If you’re too full to eat another bite, grab a beignet to take home for dessert.
While not exactly a restaurant, FOODease is a great alternative to ordering takeout. The 4,500-square-foot market offers a wide variety of foods, like a salad bar, hot entrée bar, sandwich counter, and sushi bar. Grab a bottle of wine at the wine shop, get dessert at the bakery or chocolate closet (you read that right), and take home coffee. You’ll also find fresh produce and a deli counter for making your own dishes at home.
Vera, a new West Loop wine bar, offers Spanish wines and bites. The menu is divided into cheese, ham, fish, vegetable, meat, and bread and butter, and you’ll find dishes like chicken liver toasts, marinated olives, and paella made with rabbit and duck. They’re tasty nibbles for pairing with affordable bottles or selections from the large sherry program.