(Re-)open now: The rumors are true. After closing two years ago, the half-century old Janson’s Drive-In (9900 Western Ave., Beverly) has reopened after some remodeling and new ownership. The Southtown Star reports that while there’s no longer drive-in-style service, the classic, fresh burgers, and fries are just the same.
Open now: Leadbelly Burgers now has a second location, this time in Gladstone Park (5691 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-775-6650). It’s fired for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Monday, April 14: Yum Cha (333 E. Randolph St., Loop) will officially roll out dim sum service, with dumplings galore, for lunch and dinner in Lakeshore East.
Monday, April 14: Packing House (1113 W. Randolph St., West Loop, 312-929-4787) soft-opens its bar/lounge/restaurant hybrid, complete with a 360-degree city view. Amanda Barnes, who’s been previously spotted at the Purple Pig and Moto, will head up the kitchen.
The conversation between legendary Chez Panisse chef/slow-food matriarch Alice Waters and food writer Ruth Reichl at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave., Loop) on Thursday may be sold out, but you can still dine with them. The reception following the event still has tickets available, and the menu features bites from Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria), Carrie Nahabedian (Naha, Brindille), and Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Café), among others. Your $100 ticket does not get you in to the main event, but it does get you a signed copy of Waters’ new book, The Art of Simple Food II. More info is here.
Or, if you’d rather splurge on pigging out, this weekend brings us Cochon 555, in which chefs are each given a whole heritage-breed hog and license to go wild. This year’s competitors include Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster) and Ryan McCaskey (Acadia), among others. Each chef can make up to six dishes, and a panel of judges and guests will crown a winner to go on to a national competition at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The throwdown is going down Sunday at the Blackstone Hotel (636 S. Michigan Ave., South Loop), and general admission starts at 5 p.m. Buy $125 tickets here.
In honor of the beginning of the end of “Mad Men,” Travelle (The Langham, 330 N. Wabash Ave., River North, 312-923-7705) is adding tableside cocktail cart service starting Sunday. The roaming carts will have their own specialty drink, the Madhattan, which comes with your choice of whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and smoked simple syrup.
Time for spring—and spring menu upgrades, too. LYFE Kitchen (413 N. Clark St., River North, 312-836-5933) has added several new items, including a mango-cucumber-lime smoothie and the hybrid pizzadillawich (part pizza, part quesadilla, with roasted vegetables and melted cheese.)
Also in time for the new season, Siena Tavern (51 W. Kinzie St., River North, 312-595-1322) will scoop a coconut-tequila-lime variety with graham cracker crust crumbles through the month of April.