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The Hot List

For September 2018

10 places everyone’s talking about and dining at
(in order of heat)

1Free Rein

What:Hotel dining for people who never eat at hotels
Why:Aaron Lirette, of the dearly departed (and Michelin-starred) GreenRiver, brought the rest of the band over to this swank brasserie for a reunion.
Read more about the new restaurant from the crew behind GreenRiver.
Where:St. Jane Hotel, 224 N. Michigan Ave., Loop Website
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Free Rein Photo: Neil Burger

2Bixi Beer

What:Beer, but with Sichuan peppercorns
Why:Three years (!) after first being announced, this Asian-inspired brewpub is finally pouring, in one of the city’s airiest, prettiest taprooms.
Find out what you should drink at this Logan Square brewpub.
Where:2515 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square Website
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Bixi Beer Photo: Paul Beaty/Chicago Tribune
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3Etta

What:A little bit of anything you can cook over open flames
Why:Danny Grant (of spendy steakhouse Maple & Ash) plays well with fire — and now you can get a taste without torching your wallet.
Where:1840 W. North Ave., Bucktown Website
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Etta Photo: Rachel Bires

4Beatnik on the River

What:Like an alfresco Urban Outfitters, but with booze
Why:Thanks to a primo riverfront vista in the Loop, it’s the most idyllic possible setting for after-work imbibing.
Check out a video of our visit.
Where:180 N. Wacker Dr., Loop Website
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Beatnik on the River Photo: Anthony Tahlier
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5Omakase Yume

What:Sushi for maximalists Why It’s not cheap — a cool $125 for the 17-course omakase menu — but when each plate is so finely wrought, it’s kind of a steal.
Where:651 W. Washington Blvd., West Loop Website
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Omakase Yume Photo: Christopher Greene

6Corned Beef Factory

What:The cured-beef kingpins
Why:A new location across the street with ample dining space means that, for the first time, you can devour your Reuben while sitting down.
Where:1016 W. Lake St., West Loop Website
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Corned Beef Factory Photo: Courtesy of Corned Beef Factory
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7Baobab BBQ

What:Meat, Cape Town–style
Why:Who else has a (monkey-free) condiment called monkey gland sauce?
Read more about this new restaurant by Andrew Dunlop.
Where:2301 W. Foster Ave., Ravenswood Website
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Chicago restaurant Baobab BBQ Photo: Courtesy of Baobab BBQ

8Fischman Public House

What:A slashie for the people
Why:This decades-old bar and bottle shop moved from Jefferson Park and added food like soft pretzels and sausage.
Where:4058 N. Milwaukee Ave., Portage Park Website
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Fischman Public House Photo: Jason Little

9Merchant

What:Part sports bar, part trend-chasing restaurant
Why:Stellar placement in the heart of Logan Square plus gimlets and fried-rice arancini equals a constant crowd.
Where:3137 W. Logan Blvd., Logan Square Website
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Chicago restaurant Merchant Photo: C|Louise Public Relations

10Scooped Cookie Dough Bar

What:Mounds of cookie dough in a mall kiosk
Why:Enjoy your guilty pleasure without getting sick (the eggs are safely pasteurized).
Take a look at the tasty treats at their Michigan Avenue sweets stand.
Where:835 N. Michigan Ave., Gold Coast Website
Scooped Cookie Dough Bar Photo: Courtesy of Scooped Cookie Dough Bar
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