As one of the most influential food cities in the world right now, Chicago has a distinct culinary voice and dining scene entirely its own, but that doesn't mean we don't welcome incoming restaurants from other cities with open arms.
Lately, Chicago has seen a massive influx of new restaurants and bars setting up shop in our fair city from other locales where they originated. Not only is this smart business acumen on their part, to broaden and strengthen their brand with a wider audience, but it speaks to how strong and prominent the dining and drinking scene is in Chicago. Everyone wants a piece of us.
One of the first major incomers of note was Eataly (pictured above), which made Chicago its second U.S. location following New York City. The Italian brand went bigger for Chicago, though. Thirty percent bigger, to be exact. Our Eataly outpost contains 63,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, cafes, shopping and more, making for an Italian Mecca in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Another big-name New York export is making a new home in Chicago very soon. Shake Shack, the cultishly adored burger eatery, is set to open its doors soon near Eataly, followed swiftly by a second Chicago outpost on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park.
Speaking of burgers, very soon Chicago gets a dose of Los Angeles when Umami Burger beefs up Wicker Park. The famed chef-y burger haunt is on its way to Milwaukee Avenue, close to Texas-bred Max's Wine Dive and the soon-to-open second Chicago location of Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
If you're a fan of French cream doughnuts, quiche, tartines, chia muffins, or all of the above, you're probably privy to Le Pain Quotidien, the Brussels-based cafe that has swept the U.S. and landed in Chicago with three locations already going strong (a fourth is due on Michigan Avenue). The West Loop outpost of the wholesome eatery serves as the ground base of operations in Chicago, where all the breads are baked at a central hub for satellite locations.
Elsewhere in the West Loop, Soho House launched its largest location in the world. Originated in London, the prestigious members' club and hotel sports locations in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and other metropolitan hubs, but none as large and immersive as Chicago, with six floors of illustrious spaces situated in a former belting factory. The ground floor contains Pizza East and Chicken Shop, restaurants based in London that made their U.S. debut in Chicago. A block and a half away, Chicago is set to welcome a sprawling location of Los Angeles' Nobu, a famed Japanese restaurant and celebrity magnet. And a stone's throw from there, we're rumored to receive an outpost of New York's storied Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley/fried chicken sensation.
In bar news, one of Miami's most esteemed mixology haunts will shake things up in River North early next year. The Broken Shaker has received numerous accolades for its crafty cocktail work in Miami, which has decided to branch out beyond the Magic City with a second locale in Chicago.
Photos: Eataly, Umami Burger, Le Pain Quotidien