Jan 8, 2024 - Food and Drink

What to expect from Chicago's food scene in 2024

guy in apron

Mayor Brandon Johnson serves appetizers in solidarity with Chicago's tipped workers and One Fair Wage advocates during a July 2023 reception. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In 2023, Chicago restaurants got a boost from "The Bear," new tipping laws from City Hall and a crop of innovative independent upstarts joining the scene.

  • Our crystal cabbage ball predicts many of these trends will continue and grow this year. Here's how.

Diner confusion

Last year, Chicago diners were frustrated by lingering COVID-era surcharges on restaurant checks, often intended to offset rising labor and food costs.

State of play: Some restaurants, like Daisies, are using bold pop-up windows on their websites to explain the new charges, but without explicit guidelines, we expect more calls for transparency around the process this year.

What's next: On July 1, the city's new One Fair Wage law will increase the tipped wage by 8%.

The prediction: Labor groups say One Fair Wage — along with a new worker-friendly time off policy also starting in July — will bring more workers back to hospitality.

  • Some restaurateurs tell Axios the laws will wreak havoc on their businesses and drive up menu prices.
  • Either way, local food prices will remain top of mind in 2024.

Innovative cultural mashups

Some of 2023's hottest local spots — including Thattu, Gangnam Market, Jook Sing, Akahoshi Ramen, Lilac Tiger and Boonie's — featured fresh takes on Asian food.

  • Others, like Avondale's late-night, no-reservations phenom Warlord, expanded expectations of how fine dining can operate.

What's next: Expect more of of these cultural collabs in 2024 with upcoming and brand-new places like:

  • Former Time Out Market tasting menu sensation Valhalla opening its own space in Wicker Park.
  • The resurrected Ramova Grill serving its famous chili, plus pork chop suey, Salisbury steak wagyu sliders and duck fat corn dogs.
  • Feld Restaurant rolling out farm-driven 30-course tasting menus in West Town under newcomer chef Jacob Potashnick this spring.

Plus: Anticipate a new Joe Flamm place in the West Loop, a Tuscan steakhouse Tre Dita at the St. Regis hotel, and Modern Relish opening — with a liquor license — at the former Duk's hot dog stand in West Town, as reported by Eater.

hot dog stand
The old Duk's on Ashland will be reborn as a food stand with a liquor license called Modern Relish. Photo: Courtesy of Miranda Zanca

More 2024 nibbles

City-run grocery store: We're awaiting the results of a feasibility study from Mayor Brandon Johnson's office on the viability of a city-run grocery store in underinvested neighborhoods.

Reborn Banchet Awards: After a year's hiatus, the Chicago food awards return now wholly run by and for local culinarians.

"The Bear" roars back: The blockbuster FX show is expected to film Season 3 around Chicago in February and March, with no confirmed release date yet. Series star Jeremy Allen White says he'll be training with some chefs this month to prepare, but no word on where.


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