America’s best restaurant city is not retreating from its reputation one iota.

Superkhana International combines India’s traditional flavors with local Chicago ingredients and Pizzeria Portofino does the Riviera Chicago style with hand-stretched pizzas and charcoal-grilled seafood on an expansive patio on the RiverWalk.

Innovative cookery is reaching beyond the West Loop and River North environs warming up diners to go beyond the expected. Maddon’s Post riffs on Polish and Italian cuisine less than block from Wrigley Field. Taureaux Tavern brings classic and innovative French cuisine as well as a year-round covered outdoor pergola to the heart of The Loop. Wicker Park’s new “French-ish” restaurant, Café Cancale, is a happy marriage of traditional French cooking techniques and fine Midwestern ingredients in a polished casual atmosphere. That and 35 kinds of oysters. On the Mag Mile, daily made mozzarella and burrata cheese add a web of richness and comfort to pizzas and panini courtesy of The Mozzarella Store, Pizza and Caffè. City Hall plays with the city’s shady rep and lively character through live music, tasty sandwiches and stiff drinks. Ramen is nothing new to Chicago but Kinton Ramen invites you to a little slice of Japan in Fulton Market.

The Hoxton Hotel opened in the busy Fulton Market district and added three new venues from the Boka Restaurant Group. Cira, a modern Mediterranean restaurant on the ground floor is a winner. Diners look forward to Avli expanding to River North when it opens a bilevel “Inspired Greek” concept with a large outdoor patio in fall of 2019. 

6. Pizzeria Portofino

One might think another pizzeria in Chicago would elicit yawns, however, Pizzeria Portofino is as hot as its ovens, busy from open to close. Is it the sun-drenched and airy location on the Chicago riverfront and incredible patio views? Yes, but the hand-stretched pizzas made with stone-ground Midwestern grains, vegetable antipasti, artisanal pastas, house made sesame semolina bread, charcoal-grilled seafood and coastal wines have much to do with its popularity, too. Finish with a granita or gelato and you have an easy entry in gratitude journal. Weekend brunch brings Bellinis, Bloody Marys, pancakes, egg dishes, brunch pizza and the same sunny vistas. Located on river level, Pizzeria Portofino is accessible via the Clark Street Bridge stairs.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: While not exactly the Riviera, Pizzeria Portofino does it Chicago style with hand-stretched pizzas and an expansive patio that locals and visitors are loving.

Jacky’s expert tip: There’s boat docking daily from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. in partnership with Downtown Docks, plus a Marina Menu so sailors can pull up their boats and carry out food for a day on Lake Michigan.

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