7 Restaurants Redefining The Chicago-Area Food Scene

Among the myriad things Chicago is known for is world-class food. From classics such as deep-dish pizza to more innovative gastronomical creations, the Windy City has eats and drinks to satisfy the most discriminating taste buds. Offering unique beers, eclectic world cuisines, and, yes, pizza, the restaurants included here are bringing bold new flavors and ideas to the city's renowned culinary scene. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

7 Chicago-Area Restaurants Shaking Up the Culinary Scene

Name Location
Band of Bohemia Ravenswood
Saigon Sisters West Loop and Northwestern Memorial
The Bristol Bucktown
Dimo's Pizza Wrigleyville and Wicker Park
Vie Western Springs, Illinois
Horse Thief Hollow Brewing Company Beverly
Arami West Town, Midway, and Fulton Market District

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In Depth

Chicago has established itself as a city full of sights, sounds, flavors and cuisines of all types. However, every once in a while something new comes onto the scene and surprises local diners and food enthusiasts alike. In no particular order, the following are some culinary destinations in Chicago that foodies are sure to be buzzing about.

First up at #1 is Band of Bohemia. Rooted in the namesake bohemian spirit of collective ingenuity, Band of Bohemia is a unique brewhouse that is quickly making a splash on the Chicago food scene. The head brewer of the restaurant, Michael Carroll, showcases his ability to craft beers that specifically pair with the foods being served, adhering to the philosophy that one can create a unique beer that is appropriate, if not essential, to a finer dining experience.

Executive chef Soo Ahn believes that food, at its best, is a culinary adventure. After working in kitchens in Texas, Korea, California, Washington D.C., and Illinois, Ahn found his home at Band of Bohemia, where he feels inspired while pushing boundaries and offering unique culinary concepts. Since joining the team, his goal is to create dishes that not only stand out on their own, but do justice to the beers for which the restaurant is known. The inspiration behind his menus come from family recipes, childhood snacks, fast food chains, and cuisine from his travels. His new menu will blur the lines between savory and sweet, as he enjoys incorporating pastry techniques into traditionally savory dishes.

Since joining the team, his goal is to create dishes that not only stand out on their own, but do justice to the beers for which the restaurant is known.

#2 on our list is Saigon Sisters, a Vietnamese restaurant located in the bustling West Loop area of Chicago with 3 locations. It is run by sisters Mary and Theresa Nguyen, along with their mother, Mama Suu. The main inspiration for opening their restaurant came from growing up watching their mother and grandmother run a successful business as a food distributor to markets and embassies in Laos. After moving to the United States, their entrepreneurial spirit led them to start the business. It began at the Chicago French Market in 2009, when they opened their first kiosk and where you can still find Mama Suu standing at her station serving Banh Mi, spring rolls, Pho and Baos to workers and commuters.

Since its early days as a vendor at the French Market, Saigon Sisters has grown steadily. Earning several awards, its food is bringing new energy to the food scene with tastes and flavors drawn from the Southeast Asian and French foods that Mary and Theresa tasted at an early age. The mint leaf on their restaurant logo was chosen because mint is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, and is one of many aromatic herbs and spices as well as fresh vegetables, seafood, and meats that Saigon Sisters infuses in its dishes made from authentic family recipes.

Moving on to #3, The Bristol is an American restaurant located in the Bucktown Neighborhood of Chicago. It has become a staple for local diners, off-duty chefs, and visiting gastronomes looking for a great dinner or Sunday brunch. The menu features handmade pasta, charcuterie, farm fresh produce, and a nose to tail approach to cooking. Beverages include handmade cocktails, a wine list featuring over two hundred producers and beers from around the world.

It has become a staple for local diners, off-duty chefs, and visiting gastronomes looking for a great dinner or Sunday brunch.

Executive Chef Todd Stein became interested in cooking at the young age of 11, when he spent a day shadowing at a local restaurant near his hometown of Highland Park, Illinois. Confirming his passion, he then attended Kendall College in Chicago to pursue culinary studies. Stein has traveled and cooked around the U.S and spent time studying in France and Italy, which has led him back to Chicago to help cultivate Italian heritage and contemporary American cuisine at The Bristol. The team at The Bristol take pride in creating a warm environment and creating frequently changing menus filled with great food and drink.

Next up at #4 on our list is Dimo's Pizza. Their flagship store, in the Wrigleyville area of Chicago began serving up slices on Clark Street in the summer of 2008. Back then, they operated as Ian's Pizza, a company forged in Madison, Wisconsin. When it came time for Ian's to franchise, they opted out, instead starting Dimo's with the goal of creating a positive, long lasting impact on their local community.

More than just a pizza shop, Dimo's exists as a for profit hospitality organization that champions unity, development and justice for their community. In order to lead the change in creating a positive, long lasting impact, the team is passionate about specifically promoting advocacy for education, arts and bicycles. The menu is inspired by their neighborhood and often changes to reflect their surroundings.

More than just a pizza shop, Dimo's exists as a for profit hospitality organization that champions unity, development and justice for their community.

For #5 we have Vie, named after the French word for life, Vie offers contemporary American food inspired by seasonal produce and local traditions. Everything on the menu comes from local farms, as it has since 2004 when Chef Paul Virant first opened the flagship restaurant. His cuisine focuses on year round seasonal eating with menus featuring house made pickles and preserves and locally grown, artisan ingredients from Midwestern family farms.

The first restaurant in Western Springs to serve liquor since prohibition, Vie attracts food conscious diners from Chicago and beyond looking to experience fine dining in a relaxed village setting. For 15 years, Chef Virant has created menus that tie local sensibilities with flavors from foreign lands. His meals reveal the kinship and connections between food cultures that are many miles away.

Next on our list at #6 is Horse Thief Hollow Brewing Company, a craft brewery and Southern style gastropub located in Beverly in Chicago's South Side. Neil Byers opened Horse Thief Hollow in 2013, envisioning a place where people could come for hand crafted beer and flavorful cooking with a Southern accent. Gumbo, crab cakes, and slow smoked barbecue on the menu reveal Neil's culinary influences. He worked as a chef for eight years, honing his craft in Charleston, South Carolina before returning to Chicago and developing an interest in brewing.

Neil Byers opened Horse Thief Hollow in 2013, envisioning a place where people could come for hand crafted beer and flavorful cooking with a Southern accent.

The restaurant and brewery occupies a 5900 square foot space that formerly was a carpet store. Neil restored the vaulted beam ceiling and enlisted family to help with the renovations. He and a cousin built the walls, his mother stained the wood, his father made the tabletops and a friend built the bar. They used reclaimed wood where possible, even salvaging a pair of beautifully carved doors for the entrance. The restaurant gets its name from the 1850s, when Beverly was known as The Horse Thief Hollow because bandits used to camp out in the local wooded area looking for horses to steal.

Finally at #7 is Arami. With 3 locations, Arami focuses on Japanese cuisine with a modern flare. Best known for its sushi, this busy restaurant dabbles in everything from traditional grill favorites to comforting bowls of noodles and rice. The minimalist space is a backdrop to the simple and fresh menu. Specialty cocktails with Japanese spirits complement an ample inventory of sake, scotch, Soju, and beers.

Led by executive Chef Joseph Fontelera, the popular Omakase, which comes from the Japanese word to entrust, acts as a chef guided tour of Arami. It includes many edible fan favorites along with a few added surprises and off-menu bites. To complement the Omakase experience, guests can also choose to incorporate pairings from the popular sake program, as well as wine or beer to round out the meal.