Pad thai from Andy’s Thai Kitchen
Opening: Table, Donkey and Stick
Once upon a time, in the year 2006, Shin Thompson opened Bonsoirée, a gourmet-to-go 26-seat café. People from all over the kingdom of Logan Square and beyond loved it. Years went by and the restaurant grew, but shortly after Thompson passed the reins to another chef, the beloved place closed. Undaunted, he sought a new partner and a new idea. He jumped on the pop-up bandwagon, auditioning wannabe TDS chefs and chose Scott Manley to help helm his 50-seat Alpine inn–inspired concept. What any of this has to do with a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of a similar name, nobody knows, but we assume they will all live happily ever after. 2728 W. Armitage Ave., 773-486-8525.
With their glamorous two-year-old Chicago Cut Steakhouse sizzling along in the heart of River North, David Flom and Matty Moore saw a need in Streeterville.Not for steak, but for dishes inspired by childhood memories of their mothers’ cooking, yet just a tad more upscale (like ribs from pigs raised in Berkshire, England). Fried chicken and waffles, using Pennsylvania Amish chicken and Vermont maple syrup, will also be on the menu at this classy new 125-seat comfort food spot, along with line-caught Scottish salmon. The meatloaf, though, will be made from prime dry-aged beef scraps out of the Chicago Cut kitchen.Maybe that’s why they’re calling the place Local. Hilton Suites Chicago, 198 E. Delaware Pl., 312-280-8887.
Budget: Andy Thai Kitchen
When chef Andy Aroonrasameruang split with his business partner at Lake View’s TAC Quick Thai last fall, he took his menu and many devoted followers with him. The crispy onchoy (tempura-style water spinach; $12) is still great—but the wait for a table (or a fork or someone to take your order) can be epic in this jammed little spot. Until service smoothes out, it’s best to avoid normal dinner hours.
But then get ready for Thai splendor, starting with a tom kha ($4.50) that rewrites the book on that rich soup. Follow with a rousing entrée-size salad like yum woon sen talay ($11), a marvel of fresh seafood atop glass noodles bright with chili, garlic, and lime. Fans of pad thai with shrimp will enjoy a version in which the classic noodles are enfolded in a soft omelet ($10.95); carnivores should check out the bold pad prik khing ($9.50) or the barbecue pork platter ($8.95), a sweet feast of Chinese sausage, pork loin, and cucumbers. Fresh, cheap, and a good BYO deal ($1 corkage per glass): our favorite combination. 946 W. Wellington Ave., 773-549-7821.
Photography: Anna Knott