The Windy City is heating up this fall with a slick new stays, buzzy bars and a theater festival that will set the city on fire (literally). Elaine Glusac weighs in on what's new
Newly opened and already one of the city’s hottest tables, Bohemian House stakes new ground not just with its gourmet Eastern European fare but with a relaxed vibe that belies its culinary chops. Savories star in this cozy brick-walled, loftlike space (which will be even more inviting come the Chicago winter). One the menu are the best roast duck in the city (thanks to the poppy seed vinaigrette) and the best use of bone marrow anywhere, as a partner to steak tartare. Also beer. Lots of it.
Owen + Alchemy
Chef Jared Van Camp made a name for himself with locavore bar fare at cult favorite Old Town Social. Now he’s helping you atone for those indulgent eats with the opening of new haute juice house Owen + Alchemy, opening in September in Logan Square. Fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, nut and seed milks, and smoothies with optional add-ins from the Chinese medicine chest comprise the nutraceutical menu, alongside similarly probiotic yogurt dishes and salads. Indulge, detox and repeat.
Redmoon Theater’s Great Chicago Fire Festival
Inventive Redmoon Theater, known for site-specific works, will set the Chicago River on fire this fall with the launch of an inaugural festival in honor of the Great Chicago Fire. In homage to the 1871 disaster that torched most of downtown and in many ways forged the city’s character, the fest will feature three “fire sculptures.” Shaped like pre-1871 homes floating on the Chicago River and accompanied by music, dance and much riverside ballyhoo, the sculptures will go up in flames to reveal artworks within that represent the rebirth of the city.
Soho House Chicago
A club house for Chicago’s cool kids, the 40-room Soho House Chicago is the first boutique hotel in the trendy, restaurant-centric West Loop. Set in a former belt factory, the space is a glam-meets-grit mashup of French chandeliers, exposed concrete and English club chairs. Also a private club for the creative crowd, Soho House allows only members and hotel guests access to the best parts of the hotel: the sprawling lounge and bar, the screening room, the gym (with a boxing ring) and the rooftop pool and adjoining open-air bistro and bar.
The culinary anchor of a massive West Loop warehouse complex known as Morgan Manufacturing, Brass Monkey promises a swinging ’70s theme, an exhibition kitchen walled by brise-soleil-style decorative concrete block, an expansive bar with bucket seat stools, and, in the bathrooms, vintage videogames and mirrors on the ceiling. Chef Kendal Duque plans to create an Americana menu to match. An adjacent distillery will provide spirits at the bar.
Another hot restaurant group, One Off Hospitality (whose owners include Avec chef Paul Kahan), will soon open Dove’s, a 41-seat soul-food-meets-diner spot with a mezcal-focused bar. It will sit just down the street from the group’s always packed Big Star taco joint in Wicker Park. The menu is still under development, but rumored dishes include fried chicken and Mexican-inflected chile relleños. The playlist is set, though: soul and blues from the ’60s and ’70s.
Opening in October on hypertrendy Fulton Market Street, the Betty aims to take the Chicago tavern — which could once be found on every neighborhood corner — and polish it just a touch to fit in with neighbors like the Publican. Footman Hospitality, the folks behind popular sausage-and-draft pub Bangers & Lace, have hired chef Rachel Dow, former sous-chef at the famous Avec, to produce small plates to accompany craft beers, cocktails and top-shelf bourbons.
Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, of Boka Restaurant Group, have possibly the hottest winning streak of any restaurant company, with a string of hits from the early Boka to the on-every-best-restaurant-list Girl & the Goat. In October they expect to open Momotaro, a Japanese concept with two chefs, one strictly devoted to sushi. Other options promised by the West Loop newcomer include noodles, grilled yakitori skewers and fish usually not found outside Japan (such as thorn head and halfbeak needlefish).
“David Bowie Is” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Glam rock gets the gallery treatment in “David Bowie Is,” the only U.S. stop for the megashow from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. At the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from September 23 to January 4, the show features more than 400 objects — handwritten lyrics, album covers and 60-plus costumes, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke era — that trace Bowie’s career, creativity and cultural influence.
With alumni that include Bill Murray and Tina Fey, Second City often overshadows Chicago’s other comedy contenders. But improv troupe IO Chicago is about to give Second City a run for its money this fall, with a brand new North Side space. The group, which counts Fey and Amy Poehler as alumni, will now have plenty of room to showcase the comedy world’s soon-to-be-stars with three theaters, including one named for IO alum Chris Farley. A pub with a full menu encourages lingering post-curtain to rehash the laughs and rub elbows with the actors.