Summer Eating List

Your assignment: See how many of these restaurants you can visit before October

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Summer is the sweet season for restaurants. Fresh produce is abundant, daylight lasts longer and restaurants are busier and bigger (with the addition of outdoor seats) than at any other time of the year.

So once again I'm trotting out my Summer Eating List, a compilation of recently opened and about-to-open restaurants that deserve your attention.

Mimicking the style of the reading lists that hounded the summers of my youth, the Summer Eating List is broken down into categories: "Required eating" (you simply must dine at these places), "Electives" (pick at least four from this group), "Extra credit" (polish your report with these restaurants) and "Field trips" (for overachievers with transportation).

It may be physically impossible to visit every restaurant on the list because, as I've learned, sometimes restaurants that plan on opening in, oh, mid-July don't open until much, much later. Case in point: One of the opening-soon restaurants on the list was an opening-soon restaurant on last year's list.

Key to what's open

N - Open now
TM - Opening this month
LTS - Opening later this summer

 

Required eating

N Brindille. Carrie and Michael Nahabedian offer a taste of Paris with this new restaurant, just a block north of their Naha restaurant. Oysters with scrambled eggs and caviar, veal sweetbreads paired with rabbit, Dover sole meuniere — this place would scream elegance if it weren't such a quiet, civilized space. Opened mid-April. 534 N. Clark St., 312-595-1616

N Centro. Alex Dana's Rosebud group reached into its own history to resurrect this Italian concept. The first Centro enjoyed an impressive 10-year run on Wells Street; now brought back with original chef Joe Farina, the restaurant will try for another 10 at the corner of State and Hubbard. Opened in May. 6. W. Hubbard St., 312-988-7775

TM County. The latest from DMK Restaurant Group (David Morton, Michael Kornick) is a chef-driven barbecue spot on the site of the venerable Gennaro's. The menu will be overseen by Erick Williams, executive chef of mk restaurant. Opening in late June. 1352 W. Taylor St., no phone yet

N Endgrain. Chef Enoch Simpson (Scylla, Girl & the Goat, others) joined with his craftsman-carpenter brother, Caleb, to create this Roscoe Village newcomer, anchored by the cult-fame Enoch's Doughnuts (which are on sale from 7 a.m. until they're gone) but also featuring a comfort-food menu and offbeat bar snacks. Opened in June. 1851 W. Addison St., 773-687-8191

N J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar. Steve Chiappetti is back in town with this project, a short distance from his late, lamented Mango restaurant, and veteran foodies know what this means: simple-sounding food with exceptional depth and execution, and friendly prices. Opened in May. 749 N. Clark St., 312-475-0271

N Juno. "This is my proudest restaurant achievement," says restaurateur Jason Chan (Urban Union, Butter), who teamed up with chef B.K. Park (Arami) to open this 80-seat sushi specialist (with plenty of cooked seafood dishes) in Lincoln Park. One of the neat features is an assemble-yourself sushi option. This place has the potential to become the best sushi restaurant in Chicago. Opened May 31. 2638 N. Lincoln Ave., 872-206-8662

N Kabocha. Shin Thompson takes favorite dishes from his former Bonsoiree restaurant, which featured set menus, and turns them loose in an a la carte format. But fans of chef-directed menus can always opt for the 10-course menu at Kabocha's kaiseki table. Opened late April. 952 W. Lake St., 312-666-6214

TM Lao 18. Tony Hu, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown by virtue of his Lao-named restaurants (Lao Sze Chuan, Lao Hunan, etc.), will bring his act to River North with a restaurant that will offer dinner, brunch and dim-sum lunch. And plenty of Asian-inspired cocktails. Opening in June. 18 W. Hubbard St., 312-955-8018

LTS Tanta. Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio is a superstar whose flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gaston, is on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Tanta will be a simpler and more affordable effort, similar to Acurio's La Mer restaurant in San Francisco, which means we can expect plenty of cebiches, anticuchos (skewers) and empanadas, as well as his signature pollo a la brasa. Opening in late July. 118 W. Grand Ave.; no phone yet

TM Tre Soldi Trattoria & Pizzeria. Jack Weiss of Coco Pazzo, one of Chicago's best Italian restaurants for more than 20 years, will debut this Roman-influenced Italian restaurant on June 20. Weiss doesn't open new restaurants on a whim; this is just his fourth in Chicago, counting Coco Pazzo Cafe (still thriving) and Pili Pili (no longer around, but impressive at the time). Expect Tre Soldi to be a solid newcomer. 212 E. Ohio St., 312-664-0212

Electives

TM Beatrix. This latest concept by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will be a restaurant and coffeehouse, adjacent to the new Aloft Hotel (which opens June 20). Opening late June or thereabouts. 519 N. Clark St., no phone yet

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