Photo by anjali pinto
Tuesday, 6/18: Joaquin Soler (Brown Bag Lunch Truck) is taking his barbecue and Asian-inspired comfort food from the streets to a permanent location in Irving Park. The petite smoke shack, aptly named smalls. (4009 N. Albany Ave., 312-857-4221), is a team effort between Soler and partner Dan Sceznewicz. Look for technique-driven smoked meats with house-made sauces and pickles, biscuit sandwiches, and buttermilk-brined fried chicken. Guests are able to take their food into the neighboring Lizard’s Liquid Lounge to grab a brew with their bite.
Thursday, 6/20: Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will add a new restaurant to their stable when Beatrix (519 N. Clark St., 773-891-7072) opens inside the Aloft Chicago City Center. The combined dining space, wine bar, and coffee shop will provide a comfortable atmosphere for guests. Multiple outlets for charging laptops and mobile devices are available, as well as pastries and Metropolis and Intelligentsia coffee for that afternoon pick-me-up.
Thursday, 6/20: Chef Tony Hu is giving his authentic Chinese cuisine an injection of modernity at the new Lao 18 (18 W. Hubbard St., 312-955-8018). Lao 18’s menu serves traditional favorites—roast Cantonese duck and Szechuan string beans—along with more adventurous dishes, such as Shainghai jellyfish. An exclusive beverage menu offers libations such as Chinese Maotai and baiju liquor.
Friday, 6/21: The Gallery Bar (738 N. Clark St., 312-929-2658) opens with parties on Friday and Saturday nights. As a gallery, it plans to exhibit 25 local artists and host different monthly shows. As a restaurant, chef Patrick Glatz has created a menu of street-food-inspired rolls called “Bonzai.” The weekends will see Gallery Bar turn into a dance floor with weekly DJs and an extensive selection of beers, wines, and spirits along with Gallery Bar’s signature beer cocktails.
Friday, 6/21: Tre Soldi (212 E. Ohio St., 312-664-0212) brings the tastes of Rome and the Lazio region to Streeterville. Created by the team behind Coco Pazzo (300 W. Hubbard St., 312-836-0900), this casual yet contemporary trattoria will serve up crispy pizzas and classic pastas from chef Brandon Wolff (Signature Room, La Madia, Osteria Via Stato). Enthusiasts of Italian wines will appreciate the list of 20 available by the glass.
Lillie’s Q at the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St.) is now serving the full version of the barbecue joint’s original menu. Back in Bucktown (1856 W. North Ave., 773-772-5500), the restaurant put its signature “Q-Rita” on tap (watch out though, there’s moonshine in that there slushy).
Need refreshment from the warm weather that fits into your budget? Stop by the Chicago Firehouse (1401 S. Michigan Ave., 312-786-1401) on Tuesdays for “Pinot on the Patio.” The restaurant will spotlight three different pinots each week and offer glasses for $5 each.
Have your pie and drink coffee with it too. Dollop Coffee & Tea Co. (4181 N. Clarendon Ave., 773-360-1366) and Hoosier Mama Pie Company (1618 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-4846) plan to combine forces for a third time when they open in the new AMLI Residential building at 737 Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Paula Haney, Hoosier Mama herself, says they must be up and running by October 1 to be ready for Thanksgiving Day orders.
If you are of legal drinking age, you can celebrate the first day of summer (June 21) at Binny’s Beverage Depot (1720 N. Marcey St., 312-664-4394) in Lincoln Park. Coors Light will be giving out $25 gift certificates from 5 to 7 p.m. or as long the supply lasts—just enough to buy a case of the lager for your first barbecue of the season.