Photo: Courtesy Burke's Bacon Bar
• Wednesday, 8/14: Lincoln Park welcomes a new branch of the Standard Market Grill (444 W. Fullerton Pkwy., 773-857-3080). A “fast-quality” casual concept, it boasts a menu of hefty burgers and dinner dishes complete with steak, grilled salmon, and glazed pork chop. Beer nerds will love the beverage program, which offers up to 16 different craft brews on draft, including favorites from Half Acre, Solemn Oath, and Revolution.
• Friday, 8/19: A second location of the European restaurant franchise Vapiano (44 S. Wabash St., no phone available) hits the Loop. The restaurant’s concept gives chip cards to each guest, who then select food items from different stations and scan at the end to pay. Serving Italian-influenced cuisine, the new Vapiano will be open until 2 a.m. with hopes of attracting the post-theatre crowd.
• Saturday, 8/19: Iron Horse Ale House (6158 N. Northwest Hwy., 773-555-1212) will have its soft opening this weekend. Norwood Park’s newest watering hole focuses on gastropub favorites like pizza and smoked sausage. Guests can grab a brew at the cozy wood bar or take it outside to the beer garden.
• Tuesday, 8/20: Belly up to the bacon bar when David Burke’s sandwich shop inside The James hotel opens this week. The nine different “handwiches” at Burke’s Bacon Bar (610 N. Rush St., 312-660-7200) will feature oh-so trendy pork as a key ingredient, whether it be through jalapeño bacon jam, bacon crumbs, or chicken-liver bacon salad. They even will offer bacon peanut brittle and bacon chocolate chip cookies for dessert. In case we didn’t say it enough: Bacon, there’s lots of bacon.
Beloved Asian fusion standout Fat Rice (2957 W. Diversey Ave., 773-661-9170) made it to the number four spot on Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in America list. The magazine’s restaurant and drinks editor, Andrew Knowlon, traveled throughout the U.S. for the past year sampling the best newcomers in the dining industry.
Alex Renshaw was named one of the Top 10 Bartenders to Watch at the recent Tales of the Cocktail Awards, and now he’s starting to make some waves. The mixologist has left his position at Sable Kitchen & Bar (505 N. State St., 312-755-9704) to become the beverage director at Drumbar (201 E. Delaware Pl., 312-924-2531), the hip cocktail lounge atop the Raffaello Hotel.
The Julia Child revelry continues. From August 15th (which marks her 101st birthday) through the 31st, restaurants will celebrate Julia Child Restaurant Week. Oceanique (505 Main St., 847-864-3435) will add a $24 Wild Maine Lobster special to its menu, and Bistronomic (840 N. Wabash Ave., 312-944-8400) has a $30 three-course prix fixe menu inspired by her favorite recipes.
Starting September 8th, Blackbird (619 W. Randolph St., 312-715-0708) will open on Sunday for dinner service from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Since it launched 16 years ago, the restaurant has always been closed on Sunday. To mark this change, the chefs have whipped up a number of new items for the dinner and dessert menus, including smoked arctic char, corned beef tongue, and burnt vanilla Pavlova.
Tortoise Club (350 N. State St., 312-755-1700) releases its revamped menu this week. Through collecting feedback from guests, the management decided to expand the dining options with gluten-free items and more price-friendly dishes. We’re not sure what’s friendly about paying $8 for fries, but hopefully it's a humongous portion.
After being open for about a month, Streeterville trattoria Tre Soldi (212 E. Ohio St., 312-664-0212) now offers brunch with Italian takes on breakfast. Brunch pizza, carbonara, crepes with peaches, ricotta and honey, and scrambled eggs with truffles are all part of the late-morning menu.