Cantina is the new word for Mexican restaurant—maybe, as Twitterers speculated, because it ensures drinks, not just tacos and horchata. In any case, we have Cantina 1910 in Andersonville and now Logan Square’s Dos Urban Cantina (2829 W. Armitage) from Brian Enyart and his wife Jennifer Jones. Who might know a thing or two about Mexican food, as veterans of Topolobampo (where he was executive chef for a number of years).


Sarah Grueneberg’s much-awaited Italian restaurant Monteverde (1020 W. Madison) opens and instantly makes fans on social media for its dedication to humble pasta—and for opening somewhere decent to eat on Madison at last.


Ravenswood is becoming the hot strip for massive hideaway joints around Lincoln Square and North Center,  and apparently Bohemian is a new word to use in restaurant names, with Band of Bohemia (4710 N. Ravenswood) opening Thursday serving food and the beer that goes well with it, under the management of Alinea vet Michael Carroll and Craig Sindelar.


Remember the Monty Python sketch about the cheese shop with no cheese of any kind? We felt a little like that when Baker Miller, known for its baking and milling, announced that it was finished making bread with the opening of Hot Bar (4642 N, Francisco), which started with the intention of being a grocery and somehow wound up being… a second Baker Miller. Without bread. Except then a day or two later, they announced they were making bread after all. SHUT THE BLOODY BAZOUKI OFF! Well, check it out anyway. And let us know what business it’s in when you get there.


Maybe a few months have made the difference for the Cherry Circle Room in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel; Lisa Shames at CS finds eclectically global tastes like a grilled Spanish octopus with hints of Korean gochujang, or a farro “risotto” which “belies the depth of flavors Coenen coaxes out of the seasonal vegetables, herbs and smoked onion soubise.”


Who’d have guessed that by years’ end not just one but two old time clubs for the wealthy and hoity-toity would be reclaimed as spaces for commoners to cavort? But it happened with the Chicago Athletic Association, and now Joanne Trestrail calls the Gold Coast’s 3 Arts Club turned Restoration Hardware store-slash-Hogsalt restaurant “as elegant a setting as we can imagine… Life is short and this food is delicious—indulgent but not necessarily highly caloric.” Though she does also point out that “We passed on dessert but then popped into the coffee bar just outside the cafe, where we found Doughnut Vault sweets at our disposal.” (Crain’s)


Julia Thiel at the Reader tells the saga of the Beaver Dam Pepper, an heirloom variety brought to Wisconsin by immigrants, allowed to nearly die out (to where the town it’s named for had no memory of it), and now being saved and marketed by Scrumptious Pantry’s Lee Greene.


Wicker Park may be a white-hot market—but somehow not so hot that an old Polish lady couldn’t sit on her closed tavern for 40 years before the Sportsman’s Club team finally turned it into Queen Mary, named for her. Marissa Conrad talked to her about it (in slightly broken English). (Tribune)