Photo: Sea & Olive/Yelp

Wondering where Chicago’s insiders are eating and drinking? It’s easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to uncover which eateries have been getting a noteworthy increase in attention this month.

To find out who made the list, we looked at Chicago businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.

Read on to see which spots are getting plenty of attention, right now.


photo: pacino’s/yelp

Open since November, this Italian spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as “Italian” on Yelp.

Citywide, Italian spots saw a median 1.1% increase in new reviews over the past month. Pacino’s only recently appeared on Yelp, but while many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, it has seen strong initial popularity.

Curious about the business owner? Here’s more on that from Yelp: “Chef Michael Serratore is a native Sicilian with three decades of experience. His passion is transcending guests on an unforgettable culinary journey. With our diverse cuisine offerings, we strive to please a wide range of palettes, delivering a unique experience every time.”

Want more about the business’s specialties in the words of the people behind it? “Your neighborhood Italian restaurant offering a full bar including an extensive wine list, beer and signature cocktails. Our dishes include a wide range of classically inspired antipasti, pizza, salads, seafood, fresh pastas and more!” — that’s according to its page on Yelp.

It’s not the only trending outlier in the Italian category: Ciccio Mio has seen a 150% increase in reviews.

Located at 1010 S. Delano Court, Pacino’s offers stuffed chicken, artichokes and pesto chicken pizza.

Pacino’s is open from 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.

Sea & Olive

Photo: Sea & Olive/Yelp

Whether or not you’ve been hearing buzz about Wicker Park’s Sea & Olive, the cocktail bar and Mediterranean and Greek spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as “Mediterranean” on Yelp saw a median 1.6% increase in new reviews over the past month, Sea & Olive appeared on Yelp relatively recently. Many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, but it has seen a surge of interest.

In terms of specialties, “Sea & Olive is an American-Mediterranean lofty space featuring upscale yet casual European setting with an open patio in the heart of lively Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. We serve a variety of appetizers including traditional versions of Greek cuisine, stone-oven pizzas, salads, Mediterranean-inspired entrees and desserts. From brunch to dinner, and everything in between Sea & Olive is a perfect spot for family, friends and colleagues for an experience to remember.” — that’s courtesy of its page on Yelp.

Open at 1938 W. Division St. (between Damen and Winchester avenues) since October, Sea & Olive offers calamari, scallops and falafel.

Sea & Olive is open from 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 11 a.m.–midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Pinched on the River

Photo: Dmitry K./Yelp

Streeterville’s Pinched on the River is also making waves. Open since August at 443 E. Illinois St., Chicago IL 60611, the bar and Mediterranean spot has seen a 42.2% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.3% for all businesses tagged “Bars” on Yelp. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis Pinched on the River’s review count increased by more than 170%.

Here’s more about the business from Yelp: “You decide the cultural mash-up that you’d like to experience with the confidence that each flavor blends exceptionally with the others. Pair the fresh natural greens and hummus with marinated chicken shawarma, a zesty cabbage slaw and a citrus-based black bean and corn salad. Or start with a warm fluffy pita and fill it with homemade tabbouleh, poblano pepper hummus and round it out with a pinch of tzatziki sauce (you won’t need much). All of our ingredients are prepared fresh every morning and throughout the day.”

Pinched on the River offers beignets, falafel and rice bowls. Over the past month, it’s maintained a healthy 4.5-star rating among Yelpers.

Pinched on the River is open from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday.

Cracked on Milwaukee

Photo: Cracked on Milwaukee/Yelp

Wicker Park’s Cracked on Milwaukee is the city’s buzziest breakfast and brunch spot by the numbers.

The breakfast and brunch spot, which offers coffee and tea and burgers and opened at 1359 N. Milwaukee Ave. (between Wood Street and Wolcott Avenue) in October, increased its new review count by 26.3% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.3% for the Yelp category “Breakfast & Brunch.”

For an overview of the business, we looked to the history section of its Yelp page. Here’s what we found: “Coming from a graduate of the University of Illinois, The Cracked Truck brought a new mobile twist on breakfast to the U of I campus.”

It’s not the only trending outlier in the breakfast and brunch category: Happy Camper has seen a 13.5% increase in reviews.

Cracked on Milwaukee offers parfaits, grilled cheese and breakfast bowls.

Cracked on Milwaukee is open from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.–4 p.m. on weekends.

Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago

Photo: Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago/Yelp

The Near North’s Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago is currently on the upswing in the steakhouse category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as “Steakhouses” on Yelp saw a median 0.8% increase in new reviews over the past month, this steakhouse and New American spot, which offers seafood and more, increased its new reviews by 7.3% — and kept its rating consistent at 3.5 stars. Review counts increased by more than 160% on a month-to-month basis.

Want to know more about this business? We found this in its Yelp history section: “With a philosophy that dining is a cause for celebration, Barton G. Weiss and our team of award-winning chefs, designers and producers create meals not only to satiate the appetite but to stimulate all the senses. Our menus and approach to guest service is uniquely crafted to push the limits of normal dining.”

Regarding specialties, “An experiential dining experience that appeals to all the senses featuring New American cuisine and unbelievable presentations.” — that’s courtesy of its page on Yelp.

Open for business at 415 N. Dearborn St. since February, Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago offers tuna tartare, short ribs and popcorn shrimp.

Barton G. The Restaurant Chicago is open from 5–10 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 5–11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.