Trend Alert: What’s Heating Up Chicago’s Food Scene This Month

Chicago News
Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ. | Photo: Tim M./Yelp

Want the intel on Chicago’s most happening local spots?

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to uncover which eateries have been most discussed this month.

To find out who made the list, we looked at Chicago businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.

Read on to see which spots are getting plenty of attention, right now.

Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ

Photo: Tim M./Yelp

Open since September 2018, this Italian spot, which offers sandwiches, barbecue and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as “Barbeque” on Yelp.

Citywide, barbecue spots saw a median 1% increase in new reviews over the past month, but Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ saw a 37.5% increase, maintaining a sound 4.5-star rating throughout. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ’s review count increased by more than 600%.

Located at 2241 N. Western Ave. (between Lyndale Street and Belden Avenue) in Bucktown, Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ offers brisket, pulled pork and steak skewers.

Chay Fratello’s Italian Restaurant and BBQ is open from 4–10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on weekends.

The Whale Chicago

Photo: The Whale Chicago/Yelp

Whether or not you’ve been hearing buzz about Logan Square’s The Whale Chicago, the popular New American spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as “American (New)” on Yelp saw a median 1.3% increase in new reviews over the past month, The Whale Chicago bagged a 17.4% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a healthy 4.5-star rating.

There’s more that’s trending on Chicago’s New American scene: Virtue Restauranthas seen a 7% increase in reviews.

Open at 2427 N. Milwaukee Ave. (between Richmond Street and Fullerton Avenue) since June, The Whale Chicago offers fried chicken, crab cakes and steak frites.

The Whale Chicago is open from 5 p.m.–midnight on Monday and Tuesday, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. on Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.–3 a.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m.–midnight on Sunday.


Photo: Sophia L./Yelp

East Ukrainian Village’s Tortello is also making waves. Open since July, at 1746 W. Division St. (between Wood Street and Hermitage Avenue), the pasta shop and Italian spot has seen a 9.2% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.1% for all businesses tagged “Italian” on Yelp.

Tortello offers agnolotti, bucatini and spaghetti. Over the past month, it’s maintained a sound 4.5-star rating among Yelpers.

Tortello is open from 5–9:30 p.m. on Monday and 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. on Tuesday-Sunday.

Bracket Room

Photo: Justine R./Yelp

University Village – Little Italy’s Bracket Room is the city’s buzziest traditional American spot by the numbers.

The well-established sports bar and traditional American spot, which opened at 1315 S. Halsted St. (between 13th and Maxwell streets) in August 2017, increased its new review count by 7.5% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.2% for the Yelp category “American (Traditional).” It outperformed the previous month by gaining 2.0 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.

It’s not the only trending outlier in the traditional American category: Wahlburgershas seen a 7% increase in reviews, and Bulldog Ale House has seen a 4% bump.

Bracket Room offers wings, salads and wraps.

Bracket Room is open from 11 a.m.–midnight on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday.

Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink

Photo: Ashley R./Yelp

Wicker Park’s well-established Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink is currently on the upswing in the breakfast and brunch category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as “Breakfast & Brunch” on Yelp saw a median 1.2% increase in new reviews over the past month, this cocktail bar and New American and breakfast and brunch spot increased its new reviews by 5.9% — and kept its rating consistent at 3.5 stars. Review counts increased by more than 180% on a month-to-month basis.

There’s more abuzz in the world of Chicago breakfast and brunch: The Hampton Social has seen a 5.6% increase in reviews.

Open for business at 1846 W. Division St. (between Marion Court and Wolcott Avenue) since March, Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink offers gnocchi, smoked mushrooms and roasted chicken.

Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink is open from 4 p.m.–2 a.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.–3 a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.–midnight on Sunday.

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