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7 New City Restaurants to Try in 2021

Recently, we looked at some of the best new restaurants to open in the Chicago suburbs in 2020. Now, we’ll highlight a handful that joined the city roster last year, ranging from very casual to one-of-a-kind exquisite fusion. If nothing else, 2020 gave us these seven great spots that should hopefully stick around a while.

Loop – Minahasa

Image: Minahasa

Many downtown office workers continue to work from home at the moment, but new Loop arrival Minahasa is something you have to look forward to upon your return. The Revival Food Hall tenant brings Indonesian fare to the group of over a dozen vendors. Minahasa is one of only a handful of vendors open currently, for takeout/delivery only lunch and dinner at the moment, but when Revival is back to rocking during the lunch rush you can bet it will quickly become a favorite. Menu highlights include beef rendang, a beef stew braised in dry curry spice paste with coconut milk, soto ayam, an Indonesian chicken noodle soup, and two excellent chicken entrees. 

Pilsen – Pilsen Yards

Image: Pilsen Yards

This roomy spot near the corner of 18th and Racine was formerly Monnie Burke’s, where many will remember a very long patio. The new Pilsen Yards has spruced up that patio. Most importantly though, it’s large enough that it should be amongst the most distancing-friendly outdoor dining spots in the city as the crowds return to eating out. Tacos are the main feature of the menu, although the carrots al pastor, burger, and ceviche are be worth a try too. Pilsen Yards will also has a brunch, but make sure to check out The Alderman, a speakeasy with classic and innovative cocktails. 

Wicker Park – Cheba Hut

Image: Eater Chicago

Up your sandwich game with “the best bread in the business” and an impressive number of innovative sandwich creations. This location at Damen and Division is the first Chicago outpost for the chain, which is known for its fun vibes. The casual eatery also features a handful of salads and munchies including garlic cheese bread, loaded “not’chos” that actually use Doritos as the base, pretzel nuggets, hummus, and meatballs, and a full bar. When you’re looking to switch things up from Potbelly or Jimmy John’s, Cheba Hut is the place you need to try. If you’re a fan, download the app and start cranking up rewards.

Beverly – Flippin Flavors

Image: Flippin Flavors

Chicago won’t be winning the cheesesteak competition anytime soon, but this new Beverly spot provides a solid taste of Philly, and another trip worth making to upgrade your sandwich game. Flippin Flavors is found on a busy stretch of 95th St just west of the Metra station. The menu runs through some classic sub combos with not only steak but chicken, turkey, and veggie options as well. The hot-n-spicy turkey hoagy is apparently a crowd favorite. These all come at reasonable price points — the most expensive sandwich on the menu is only $11.

West Loop – Polombia

Image: Kimberly Yeoh/Polombia

When you think of restaurant fusion concepts, Polish and Colombian is unlikely to be a combo that comes to mind. But bring a big appetite and open mind to Polombia and you’ll be in luck. Open on weekends only and just for takeout and delivery currently, you’ll find items such as “emparogis,” a “kielbasa perro,” and an “arepa-ski.” The couple that run the place strive to make the restaurant neither Colombian nor Polish, but rather a unique mix of both that ensures the dishes you have are ones you won’t find anywhere else. That’s it, this one is going to need a taste test before we pass any further judgments.

Ukrainian Village – Tamale Guy Chicago

Image: Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago

For some, he needs no introduction. For others, he’s the long-awaited stuff of urban legend. The beloved Claudio Velez, who is known as the “Tamale Guy,” has spent most of the last two decades roaming the streets of Chicago nightlife, selling fresh tamales out of a red cooler. You never knew exactly where or when you’d find Claudio, but now, you can pay his new restaurant a visit Wednesday through Sunday. The menu keeps it simple: pork, chicken, and queso con rajas tamales are obviously the main event, along with a handful of everyday specials. The menu expands on Saturday and Sunday with added tamale varieties, and you’ll also find a few sides and desserts. Note that their hours are limited at the moment, but they do deliver with a minimum $12 order.