Haute French, Dutch-Indo fusion, and everything in between—these are the 15 newcomers that blew us away.
By Carly Boers, Penny Pollack, Jeff Ruby, and Carrie Schedler
Published April 11, 2016
If 2016 has a theme, it will be the Year of the Indie. Sure, the big restaurant groups keep spinning out new concepts, but 10 of the 15 winners on this list came from freestanding operators. That means—hallelujah!—chefs have the freedom to follow muses (which for David de Quay leads to spot-on Dutch-Indo fusion). They can thrive far from the action (charming Ixcateco Grill in Albany Park). They can even be as weird as they want to be (Arbor’s ingenious improvised menus).
After eating 230 meals at scores of restaurants that opened between March 1, 2015, and February 29, 2016, our dining team developed this list to guide your visits to the most promising rookies. Here are the creative, the stylish, the satisfying—restaurants we’re betting on as they bet on themselves. (Disagree? Let us know and you could win a $100 gift certificate.)