With debut restaurants from young-gun chefs and new projects from Chicago legends, this great dining city stays on its toes.
This Gold Coast newcomer, opened in the Ambassador Chicago in late 2017, began its life over 80 years ago as the iconic and oh-so-exclusive Pump Room — a favorite of visiting stars from Josephine Baker to Mick Jagger. It’s been revived in style following a rebrand of the hotel, with chef Doug Psaltis turning out refined dishes that hearken back to the original restaurant’s heyday: lobster Louie, Dover sole, and even an original 1954 cheesecake recipe. boothone.com; entrées $19-$49.
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Chef Erling Wu-Bower cut his teeth under the legendary Paul Kahan at beloved Chicago talent incubators the Publican and Nico Osteria. Now, after much anticipation, he’s struck out on his own as head chef and co-owner of a restaurant with partner Joshua Tilden. PST’s West Coast-inspired menu skips the clichés of California cuisine — no artfully arranged figs and goat cheese here — in favor of hearth-fired flatbreads, bright vegetables, and plenty of seafood. pstchicago.com; entrées $15-$35.
After closing the dearly-departed Snaggletooth last summer, Chef Jennifer Kim heads to Andersonville and comes back in full force with this self-described purveyor of “fun Korean fare.” Drawing on family recipes and a healthy dose of Italian technique, her menu mixes the traditional (kalbi, seasonal banchan) with experiments in texture and flavor, like Calabrian chili-crusted Korean fried chicken and ddukbokki stewed in a lamb’s neck ragu. passerottochicago.com; entrées $12-$19.
Mi Tocaya Antojería
Chicago native Diana Dávila earned her culinary chops both in the kitchen and in the field: she grew up helping at her family’s tacqueria and spent her summers in Mexico, ultimately studying at Susana Trilling’s famed Oaxaca cooking academy. The menu at her colorful Logan Square hangout — which earned her a Best New Chef nod from Food & Wine this year — turns a fresh eye to the many iterations of Mexican cuisine, with dishes like mole amarillo topped with bright fiddlehead ferns and the Sunday dinner special of fried chicken and churros. mitocaya.com; entrées $10-$26.
The team behind Sepia — one of the city’s many Michelin-starred New American institutions — decided to loosen up some buttons with their new restaurant next door. Sepia’s Andrew Zimmerman does double duty as Proxi’s executive chef, curating a livelier, more mix-and-matchable menu of small plates. Fire is the uniting force, smoking pumpkin for a savory paratha and coal-roasting mussels to be drowned in njuda butter. proxichicago.com; entrées $12-$30.