Caution: Contents are extremely hot

Personal ServiceOl' Dirty BastardKanye West

You've been waiting for summer for nine months now, and you can barely stand another second of suspense. But these much anticipated picks have yet to make their summertime debuts-which just means they'll be absolutely sweltering once they do ignite. Get ready to get sweaty with the season's hottest scorchers.

De la Costa
What's hotter than Miami in the summertime? Nada. That's why we're already breaking a sweat waiting for the July opening of this riverside spot from Douglas Rodriguez, the Miami-born rock-star chef who turned pan-Latin cuisine into really haute stuff. After all, before there was Nacional 27 and Carnivale, there was Patria, his now-shuttered New York Nuevo Latino powerhouse. The food's not the only thing heating up: Scenester temps are rising over the scorchin' interior, featuring a solarium overlooking the river and rental cabanas for you and your posse to chill out in.
Heat index: 97 degrees

Stone Lotus
Bottle service? Been there, done that. But bottle treatments? We'll definitely check 'em out when this spot opens June 22. The soon-to-launch, spa-inspired River North hang has Dale Levitski (ex-Trio Atelier) whipping up a selection of small plates to pair with an assortment of spirits. Think celebrating with a bottle of chi-chi champagne, then getting pampered with the hot towels that accompany your fresh mango nectar mixer and bruleed berries. Also look for top-notch cocktails like the Jade Violet Martini.

With a hot-shot New York team handling the decor, expect East Coast edginess (think 50-foot waterwall). Plus, owners insist staff will be trained to deliver five-star service, including water bottles and a fan-blown breeze should you have to wait in line. Can we have someone rub our tired tootsies after standing in stilettos, too?
Heat index: 100 degrees

Rhymefest at Intonation Fest
Don't get confused: Rhymefest is not a poetry festival. Rather, this Chicago rapper, who won a Grammy for cowriting Kanye West's "Jesus Walks," is about to hit it big. Self-described as "wacktose intolerant," Rhymefest's known for his rap battle skills, and looks to join the ranks of Chicago products like West, Common and Lupe Fiasco. His debut album, "Blue Collar," featuring West, Citizen Cope, the late Ol' Dirty Bastard and more, hits stores July 11, and he's playing Intonation Fest later this month (3:10 p.m. June 25. $20-$35. Tickets: intonationmusicfest.com). Don't miss the chance to check out the latest big thing in Windy City hip-hop, and stay tuned June 21 for our interview with the up-and-coming rapper.
Heat index: 99 degrees

Wacker Drive riverwalk
Chicago River south bank, State to Franklin Streets
It's sometimes stinky, a little dirty, and once a year it's dyed green. But the Chicago River is ours, and we love it, which is why we're anxiously awaiting the opening of this five-block stretch of riverside civic space. Keep your eyes open for a mid-June unveiling (the city hasn't announced an exact date yet).

What can you expect? Just a taste of what's to come, as the city continues to make improvements to the area over the next several years. This summer, plan to picnic along the riverwalk for a front-row seat for Tall Ships Chicago, when thousands of wind-powered vessels sail along the river. And, with any luck, the city hopes to open an urban market by then-maybe focusing on produce, maybe crafts-in an enclosed 10,000-square-foot space at the river-level intersection of Wabash Avenue and Wacker Drive.
Heat index: 95 degrees

Metromix producers Matt McGuire, Chris LaMorte, Karen Budell and Matt Pais contributed to this story.metromix@tribune.comOriginally published June 5, 2006.

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