A's List: You’ll fall for these unique new Chicago spots for dining and drinking
By Audarshia Townsend
I love the changes in seasons for so many reasons. Autumn is especially significant because it’s not only gorgeous outside with all the colorful leaves, but inside, you'll find new attractions to dine and drink. Of great note are this season's hot spots, from the Gothic chic King of Cups cocktail lounge to a sleek Mediterranean-focused eatery by an award-winning family.
King of Cups (Lincoln Park)
The father-and-son team behind Brando's Speakeasy sets its sights on conquering Lincoln Park with this Renaissance-themed tavern. King of Cups favors itself as a "Gothic chic bar," and specializes in craft cocktails. We particularly love the soundtrack here, as it sets the perfect vibe for this unique watering hole. From deep soul and acid jazz to classic house, the music is a refreshing change of pace. King of Cups’ design feels like it's fit for royalty, from plush colors throughout the bar to an actual throne for guests to sit upon and take photos. There are also tarot card readings, occasional burlesque shows and live music.
Menu highlights: The beverage-only menu includes Maximillian the Imposter (banana-infused mezcal, bourbon, PX sherry, chocolate bitters, angostura bitters, applewood smoke), Virtuous Queen (lavender-infused gin, Campari, rose vermouth, rosemary lavender tincture bitters, floral), and Smerch's Swizzle, which pays homage to the long-time watering hole occupying the space before King of Cups.
Kostali (River North)
It's a family affair at Kostali as cousins Michael Nahabedian and Carrie Nahabedian team up for the third time with this project at the Gwen hotel. Located on the lobby level, Kostali focuses on coastal cuisines of southern Europe and northern Africa. Kostali--which means "coast" in Maltese--takes on Mediterranean fare in the style only the Nahabedians can do. While the award-winning Chef Carrie handles the cuisine, Michael is over the beverage program and will pull from the Mediterranean's top wine producers. The restaurant's design is inspired by the great rivieras of the world, particularly those along the Mediterranean Sea. Kostali is scheduled to open in October.
Porto (West Town)
Bonhomme Hospitality Group partner Daniel Alejandro Alonso revisits his roots with this Spanish-inspired, seafood-focused eatery. Porto set to open later this fall, pays homage to fishing villages and rural hamlets along the Atlantic Coast of Portugal and Galicia. It aims to showcase the wine, fish and conservas (gourmet tinned seafood) from this region. For the menu, chef Marcos Campos—who is also originally from Spain—will offer forward-thinking dishes that will utilize open-flame cooking. A 32-seat chef’s island is flanked by the first of two wood-burning hearths that bring the kitchen as close as possible to the guests, breaking down the barrier between those making the food and those consuming it. What's super cool is that the chefs will serve dishes directly to guests, which will allow them to articulately explain each offering.
Roebuck (East Lakeview)
From the guys behind Dryhop comes this East Lakeview pizza destination pairing signature pies with craft beers made in-house. Roebuck's high-tech microbrewery, located behind the wood-fired pizza oven, cranks out craft beers created specifically to match the pizzas.
Menu highlights: There are nine Neapolitan-style, wild-fermented pizzas available, which includes meat heavy and vegetarian styles. Choose from the likes of Margherita, marinara and Fungus Among Us for non-meat pies as well as Red Riding Hog and Bank Raaber for meat lovers.
Utopian Tailgate (Old Town)
True to its name, Utopian Tailgate aims to be Chicago’s ultimate tailgating experience outside of Soldier Field. Most of the fourth-floor venue is outside, which means it’s a yearround alfresco scene. Bears fans especially can come here to catch the big games and settle in with large-format cocktails in oversized coolers and craft beer as well as elevated sports bar fare. Bring your favorite coat—and scarf, gloves and hat—because you’re going to need it if you venture here during winter. Games outside aim to keep guests warm, including foosball, bocce, bags, and giant board games like Connect Four and Jenga. There’s also an adult "field of dreams" with rotating experiences like bouncy houses, mechanical bull rides and Spikeball.
Menu highlights: Traveling tacos made with Flaming Hot Cheetos; a Smash burger topped with mortadella and caramelized onion; and kabobs made with swordfish belly, pork belly, shrimp, chicken thighs or hangar steak.
See previous A's List columns right here.