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Italian And More: What's Trending On Chicago's Food Scene?

Photo: Lips/Yelp

Unsure where Chicago's insiders are eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to discover which eateries have been seeing especially high review volumes 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 on a hot streak this autumn.

Italian and more: What's trending on Chicago's food scene? by Hoodline on YouTube


Photo: Lips/Yelp

Open since August,  this bar and traditional American and cabaret spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Bars" on Yelp.

Citywide, bars saw a median 1.2% increase in new reviews over the past month, but Lips saw a 41.7% increase, maintaining a healthy four-star rating throughout.

Located at 2229 S. Michigan Ave. (between Cermak Road and 23rd Street), Lips offers cocktails, crab cakes and lobster ravioli.

Lips is open from 7–11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 6 p.m.–midnight on Friday, 6 p.m.–2 a.m. on Saturday and noon–11 p.m. on Sunday. (It's closed on Monday and Tuesday.)

The Whale Chicago

Photo: The Whale Chicago/Yelp

Logan Square's The Whale Chicago is also making waves. Open since June at 2427 N. Milwaukee Ave. (between Richmond Street and Fullerton Avenue), the well-established New American spot has seen a 28.2% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.3% for all businesses tagged "American (New)" on Yelp.

There's more than one hot spot trending in Chicago's New American category: Flora Fauna has seen an 18.2% increase in reviews, and The Smith has seen a 14.4% bump.

The Whale Chicago offers lamb chops, steak frites and fried chicken. Over the past month, it's maintained a convincing 4.5-star rating among Yelpers.

The Whale Chicago is open from 5 p.m.–2 a.m. on Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. on Friday, 9:30 a.m.–3 a.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m.–2 a.m. on Sunday.

Torchio Pasta Bar

Photo: Amber S./Yelp

River North's Torchio Pasta Bar is the city's buzziest Italian spot by the numbers.

The Italian spot, which opened at 738 N. Wells St. in May, increased its new review count by 14% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.2% for the Yelp category "Italian."

Torchio Pasta Bar offers pasta, cheese platters and salads.

Torchio Pasta Bar is open from 5–9 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday and 5–10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. (It's closed on Monday and Sunday.)


Photo: Cira/Yelp

West Town's popular Cira is currently on the upswing in the breakfast and brunch category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as "Breakfast & Brunch" on Yelp saw a median 1.4% increase in new reviews over the past month, this Mediterranean, Turkish and breakfast and brunch spot increased its new reviews by 15.5% — and kept its rating consistent at four stars. Review counts increased by more than 140% on a month-to-month basis.

Open for business at 200 N. Green St. (between Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street) since April, Cira offers avocado toast, shakshuka and overnight oats.

Cira is open from 7 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–11 p.m. on Monday-Thursday and Sunday and 7 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5 p.m.–midnight on Friday and Saturday.

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