A full plate: 8 spots to try this season

By / Dining / April 6, 2017

Spring has officially arrived — here, the best new eateries to try as you come out of hibernation 


Quiote’s camarones (shrimp) and suadero (confit brisket) tacos, $4 each

Chef Dan Salls goes from food trucks (The Salsa Truck, The Garage) to a full-fledged restaurant inspired by regions of Mexico in Logan Square. At lunch, counter-service tacos, tortas and salads are similar to Salls’ food-truck fare, but dinner offerings are more complex — think plated dishes like bone marrow with avocado and salsa macha ($17) and chicken en mole negro ($24). Mexican wines are featured prominently, and the basement bar specializes in unique mezcal cocktails. 2456 N. California;

Ella Elli

Ella Elli’s Greek yogurt with seasonal fruit | Galdones Photography

Although 4 Star Restaurant Group is best known for family-friendly neighborhood joints like Dunlays on Clark and Crosby’s Kitchen, you might want to leave the kids at home this time. The group’s most elevated concept yet is perfect for date night, and director of culinary operations Matt Eversman crafts a menu that’s both creative and approachable. Vegetarians have plenty of tempting options, including a crispy grain salad with endive and goat cheese ($10) and roasted fennel with citrus ($8). Lamb scottadito ($27) is a meaty standout, and dessert can be as healthy (Greek yogurt with seasonal fruit and honey, $8) or decadent (profiteroles drenched in espresso chocolate sauce, $9) as you wish. 1349 W. Cornelia; Ellaellichicago.com

Café Robey

This romantic French bistro brings a calm, classy touch to one of the busiest intersections in the city. The street-level all-day restaurant at Wicker Park boutique hotel The Robey features an accessible menu of European comfort food. Natural light during the day makes it the perfect place to work over buttermilk pancakes ($12) or avocado toast ($9); come dusk, crispy duck confit ($20) and grilled octopus ($18) with celery salad pair nicely with reasonably priced wines. 2018 W. North; Therobey.com


Whole roasted maitake mushroom with pear cream and chestnuts, $17 | Galdones Photography

Veggies shine at this Danish-inspired restaurant from husband-and-wife team Anna and David Posey. Whether it’s leeks smothered in melted cheddar (tasting menu) or celeriac “risotto” with hazelnuts and black truffle ($18), the Scandinavian dishes are ostensibly simple but surprise with complex, layered flavors. The eight-course tasting menu is a relative bargain ($80) and non-alcoholic juice pairings ($25) outshine the wine. With sparse, minimalist decor, warm service and a crackling fire in the courtyard outside, Elske nails the Danish concept of hygge, a special kind of coziness. 1350 W. Randolph; Elskerestaurant.com

Coming soon

< Split-Rail | Expected opening: May
Playful New Americana hits West Town courtesy of Chef Zoë Schor (Ada Street). Dishes like loaded baked potato gnocchi with bacon, sour cream and cheddar, or reimagined fajitas with creamy masa and pickled jalapenos are eclectic and nostalgic. 2500 W. Chicago; Splitrailchicago.com

Noyane | Expected opening: Late May
Conrad Chicago’s Japanese rooftop restaurant (“noyane” means “hidden roof”) will be a chic summer hangout from Chef Richard Sandoval. Groups can enjoy sushi and sashimi boats paired with Japanese whisky, sake and cocktails, while a sultry sculptural fire blazes in the background. 101 E. Erie; Conradchicagohotel.com

< BLVD | Expected opening: Early June
Classic 1950s Hollywood glamour comes to life here with a globally inspired, modern American menu. Gold mirrors and a 15-foot chandelier are matched by rich, indulgent food like diver scallops with zucchini cake and pappardelle with oxtail ragu. 817 W. Lake; Blvdchicago.com

Proxi | Expected opening: June
Chef Andrew Zimmerman and the team behind Michelin-starred Sepia are opening a boisterous counterpart inspired by global street food next door. 565 W. Randolph; Proxichicago.com


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