The sun is shining, the plants are blooming, and most importantly, the patios are opening in Chicago. Spring has sprung and that includes new menus and restaurants at Chicago’s hottest eateries. From openings to old favorites making warm-weather updates, now is the time to perfect your Windy City foodie ways, and I have all the best spots to frequent through the spring and summer months…
To start off your day strong, pick up brunch from Blue Door Farm Stand in Lincoln Park. They offer to-go items, as well as a wide selection of salads and a goat cheese and fig jam crostini that is perfect for any meal! Other favorites include the Purple Line breakfast wrap and Farm Stand Cobb Salad, but no matter what you order the bright atmosphere makes this spot perfect for a lazy morning meal.
For lunch on the run, Chicago favorite Fabio Viviani is taking his Italian classics into the quick-service food world. If you crave Siena Tavern-style flatbreads over your lunch break, you can now pick them up to go! At Urban Market Cafe in Chase Tower (opening May 19th) and Rustle+Roux Cafe at The Franklin (opening June 9th), Chef Fabio is opening his latest concept called Mercato, where he will offer fresh Italian dishes with authentic ingredients for the Loop’s lunch crowd. Great value for a delicious meal!
Another place to grab pizza is Blaze, which now has a second location in the Michigan Avenue shopping district. The fast-casual pizzeria is located on Ontario, and will be offering it’s same menu of delicious toppings and variety of sauces. Make your pizza just the way you like it, and it’ll be cooked to order in less than five minutes!
More quick food (but hardly “fast food”) options can be found at UnderDog in Wicker Park, which specializes in American favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, but with a Mexican twist. With topping options like carne asada, queso fresco, pinto beans or avocado, the sky is the limit for patrons looking for a truly unique food experience. It’s amazing food, and it’s open until 4 am so you can eat great anytime!
For dinner, my two recent favorites are mEAT in Lakeview and The Monarch in Wicker Park, both of which boast delicious food and cocktail menus for diners looking for a truly delicious experience.
At meEAT, community dining is the name of the game, with patrons encouraged to share their meals with strangers and the entree meats coming on skewers meant to be passed. One thing you won’t want to share is any of their cocktails, which are all twists on classics like the Moscow Mule (renamed the “American Mule” with a crystalized ginger skewer) and the “Magic Margarita” with its flavored ice block. Entree favorites are the truffle fondue and beef tenderloin tips.
And at The Monarch, spring additions to the menu include striped sea bass, and grit fritters with a siracha aioli that’s to die for! My favorite is a deconstructed crab rangoon (above center) that’s crispy and fresh with just a hint of spice, but the crudo is also always a safe bet, no matter what the daily special is. And there are craft beers and custom cocktails to accompany any dish on the menu…from the honey glazed half-chicken to butter poached burgundy snails (for the adventurous foodie).