At the city's northern point,
Hamachi Sushi Bar
2801 W. Howard St. 773-293-6904
Opened: Late September
Small, minimalist and modern, this sushi bar on the neighborhood's north border has something for sushi newbies and die-hards alike. Dishes range from entry-level classics such as spicy tuna ($8) or California rolls ($6) to more complex signature maki such as the Chicago Sunset ($15.95), a triple-whammy of smoked salmon, fresh salmon and salmon roe. Head chef Tee Shakya selects ingredients not only for their flavors and textures, but also for their looks, such as the bright-blue tempura crunch topping on the Blue Man Group maki ($15.95) and fried ice cream ($6.95) for dessert. The restaurant also is certified kosher and uses faux crab and shrimp approved by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.
The Drunken Pig
5854 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-334-3225
Opened: Early October
On the neighborhood's southwest side, this bar combines the dark, swank style of a gastropub with the laid-back vibe of a neighborhood tavern—and it has a cute pink pig face on the sign to boot. Porcine inspiration shows its snout in everything from chef Johnny Park's bacon-wrapped dates ($5) and pork belly with kimchee puree ($8) to the bar's signature old fashioned, made with Four Roses bourbon and called the Old Fashioned Piggy ($8). Want to show off some of the beer pong skills you perfected up in college? After a successful Black Wednesday tournament, monthly beer pong tourneys are in the works. Luckily, the craft beers on tap from local breweries such as Revolution, Three Floyds and Two Brothers are a significant upgrade from what you likely swilled at house parties.
1406 W. Morse Ave. 773-274-0700
Opened: Late October
With big windows in front and a location just few steps from the Red Line Morse station from which it takes its name, Morsel makes a great perch for people-watching in the heart of Rogers Park. Owners Colm Treacy and Mary Anne Culleton know a thing or two about serving the North Side; together they own T's in Andersonville, and Treacy also owns nearby LGBT bars Sidecar and The Glenwood. While the latter two hangouts are booze-only, Morsel is a restaurant—a spacious one at that, with a loft-like look, burgundy tufted banquettes and plenty of tables for groups. Dinner choices range from chili-spiced short ribs ($16) to roasted pork belly with scallops ($17), and live music and a late-night menu are set to debut soon on Thursday and Friday nights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. On the weekends, brunch beckons with morning cocktails ($6-$7) such as pineapple mimosas (called "pimosas) and Guinness bloody marys, plus sustenance in the form of biscuits with veggie sausage gravy ($9) and eggs scrambled with prosciutto and goat cheese ($9).