Chicago's Top 5 New & Notable Culinary Destinations

Chicagoist's Anthony Todd counts down the top five new spots for hungry Chicagoans.

Updated: April 24, 2012

New & Notables

Slurping Turtle

116 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654

Chicago has had a bit of ramen envy since the Momofuku craze hit New York City. Slumbering quietly on the top floor of Marshall Fields, Noodles by Takashi was always every bit as good, but no one noticed. Now, those same noodles are in River North, and we can't get enough of them. Slurping Turtle has a whole menu of Japanese favorites, but all we care about is the noodles. The signature dish, with rice noodles, napa cabbage, black tiger shrimp and cilantro, is the best $13 you'll ever spend downtown. Take that, NYC.


833 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

If you want to feel like a well-fed Keith Richards for one evening, this is the place for you. Nellcote is the brainchild of Jared Van Camp, the chef behind Old Town Social, and is inspired by the summer of '71, when the Stones recorded Exile on Main Street. Despite the hard rock cred, Van Camp serves serious food - he imported and assembled the first in-restaurant flour mill in Chicago to make his own pastas and pizzas. If you want to eat, grab a (relatively) quiet table around the perimeter. If your goal is to drink and be seen, stay in the middle of the restaurant and find someone to rock out with.

Bar Toma

110 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611

It's about time Michigan Avenue got a really good Italian restaurant. Well, aside from Spiaggia, Mantuano's other joint and President Obama's favorite restaurant. However, unlike Spiaggia, Bar Toma is a restaurant that mere mortals can afford. Take a break from shopping with a fresh baked pizza or a selection of fresh mozzarellas. Stop in early in the morning before work for a cappuccino and a fresh pastry or head in late at night for one of the 20 different flavors of gelato and a glass of grappa. No matter when you visit, Bar Toma won't disappoint.

El Ideas

2419 W 14th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Dining at El Ideas, which hides on an industrial block of the southwest side, feels like being let in on a secret. The dichotomy of the beautiful food in an alleyway next to some train tracks feels like having a covert affair - except you can tell your friends. Don't tell all of them, though; with only 12 seats and only two seatings a night, you'll definitely need reservations. Make sure to invite a double diamond foodie as your date though, last time we went in, they grated a petrified fish on top of one of our dishes.


120 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

Walking into the Four Seasons can be a bit harrowing. Are we wearing the right shoes? Look, there's Katie Couric! But once you've sat down in the dining room at Allium, you'll feel right at home. Oh, sure, all the trappings of luxury are right there - the marble, the fountains, the gorgeous view of the city, but the food (and prices) are much more approachable. Drink the special Red Onion Ale by Goose Island or a shot of Allium's single-barrel custom bourbon, order a bowl of chorizo cheese potato chips, and enjoy the good life.