The Chicago culinary culture had an explosive year in 2016. Michelin stars, which are the most prestigious restaurant ratings, were awarded to 26 Chicago restaurants, making Chicago the city with the ninth most Michelin stars in the world. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also announced in October 2016 that Chicago is slated to host the James Beard Awards — the socalled Oscars of the food industry — through 2021.
Chicago restaurants show no signs of slowing down in 2017. Here are five highly anticipated restaurant openings in the year to come:
1. Kitsune (4229 N. Lincoln Ave.)
This Midwest-inspired Japanese restaurant and pub is a new project of chef Iliana Regan. Regan is best known for Elizabeth, her Michelin-starred restaurant in Lincoln Square that primarily serves fresh meat and vegetable dishes. The Midwest inspiration for Kitsune comes from Regan’s focus on finding the best local farms to provide produce for her restaurants. Judging by Elizabeth, we can expect a constantly changing, seasonal menu at Kitsune. The new restaurant features a much more relaxed environment than its counterpart in Lincoln Square. Look for an eclectic array of menu items, such as oysters, three different types of ramen, whiskey glazed donuts and a seasonal $55 family-style menu that includes foods paired with beer or sake, a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. Kitsune is expected to open on Jan. 31. At 4229 N. Lincoln Ave, just south of Lincoln Square.
2. HaiSous (1800 S. Carpenter St.)
Husband and wife duo Thai and Danielle Dang, known for their nowclosed restaurant, Embeya, will take on a new project and return to their roots with HaiSous. HaiSous will likely feature Vietnamese dishes — using techniques such as open-flame, clay pot grilling — making HaiSous potentially the most unique Chicago restaurant opening in 2017. Thai is the brains behind the kitchen, while Danielle handles the drinks and the restaurant design, making for an unstoppable duo. Expect menu items such as Thai’s signature green papaya salad and plenty of Vietnamese BBQ. HaiSous is scheduled to open in early spring in Pilsen at 1800 S. Carpenter St.
3. Like Minds Brewpub (1800 W. Walnut St.)
Chef Justin Aprahamian, who formerly shared his talents at Milwaukee restaurant Sanford, is teaming up with business partner John Lavelle for a new venture. The carefully curated menu will include foods that pair well with beer, including lobster rolls with cucumber kimchee, lamb mole tacos and many different types of cheeses — after all, Aprahamian started his cooking career in Wisconsin. Expect seasonal menus that provide a fine-dining experience for wine and beer lovers alike. The owners said visitors can anticipate a unique selection, including four seasonal sour beers: a quince saison beer in the fall, a rhubarb saison beer in the spring, a cucumber kolsch in the summer and a barrel-aged black tea beer in the winter. Like Minds Brewpub is scheduled to open this winter on the Near West Side at 1800 W. Walnut St.
4. Jason Hammel project at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.)
The Museum of Contemporary Art will complete a $16 million renovation this year, and once complete, a new restaurant is set to open on the museum grounds. Chef Jason Hammel, who is known for his farm-to-table restaurant, Lula Cafe, in Logan Square, will be the head chef at the new MCA restaurant. Not much is known about the new restaurant because the MCA has yet to reveal its name or menu. The restaurant will serve brunch, lunch and dinner, and it will also have a take-out counter. The Museum of Contemporary Art is only a short walk from Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, and the restaurant is scheduled to open in summer 2017.
5. Golden Teardrops (2101 N. California Ave.)
Land and Sea Dept. — the concept and project development studio behind loved bars and restaurants such as Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Game Room and Lost Lake — is solidifying its presence with another Logan Square establishment. Golden Teardrops is expected to feature a two-level bar and rooftop deck. The menu hasn’t been revealed yet, but renowned Chicago mixologist Paul McGee is spearheading the drink menu, which means we can anticipate top-notch concoctions. The opening date is yet to be announced, but management confirmed that Golden Teardrops will move into Logan Square, filling the vacancy left by what used to be Ronny’s Space, an old punk club.