As fans of cronuts and cake pops can attest, food trends come and go. So how can you tell which tastes are trending right this minute?
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to deduce which restaurants have been getting extra attention 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 increase their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which spots poised to start summer off strong.
Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink
Open since March, this bar and New American spot, which offers desserts and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "American (New)" on Yelp.
Citywide, New American spots saw a median 1.4 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, but Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink saw a significant 104.3 percent increase, maintaining a mixed 3.5-star rating throughout.
Located at 1846 W. Division St. (between Marion Court and Wolcott Avenue) in Wicker Park, Machine offers world cuisine from chef Trevor Hoyte. Notable items include roasted half chicken with truffle honey, turnips and braised pig tails with hazelnuts, cauliflower, grapes and endive. Try cocktails like Breaking Brulee, which is made with aged rum, strawberry, vanilla bean, egg and bruleed crust.
Lake View East's Pancake Cafe is the city's buzziest traditional American spot by the numbers.
The bar, which opened at 3805 N. Broadway (between Sheridan Road and Grace Street) in June 2018, increased its new review count by 19 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.7 percent for the Yelp category "American (Traditional)." It outperformed the previous month by gaining 4.0 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.
It's not the only trending outlier in the traditional American category: No Bones Beach Club has seen a 17.5 percent increase in reviews.
Pancake Cafe offers a variety of breakfast items like crepes, omelets and French toast. Get this spot's famous pancakes stuffed with fruit, bacon or semisweet chocolate chips and topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream or powdered sugar (can be made gluten-free). Also try the breakfast quesadilla complete with jalapeño poppers, three eggs, bacon and cheddar wrapped up in a tortilla.
Jibarito's on Harlem
Open since September 2018, this Puerto Rican spot, which offers comfort food and sandwiches, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Sandwiches" on Yelp.
Citywide, businesses tagged "Sandwiches" saw a median 1.5 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, but Jibarito's on Harlem saw a 10.6 percent increase, maintaining a healthy four-star rating throughout. It gained 19.0 times more reviews than expected based on past performance, significantly outperforming the previous month.
Located at 3317 N. Harlem Ave. in Schorsch Village, Jibarito's on Harlem offers generous portions of jibaritos (a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread) and mofongos (balls of mashed plantains). Both menu items come filled with meat, chicken or seafood.
Is Logan Square's Penumbra on your radar? According to Yelp review data, the wine bar and steakhouse, which offers seafood and more, is seeing plenty of action.
While businesses categorized as "Steakhouses" on Yelp increased their media new review count by 1.1 percent over the past month, Penumbra nabbed a 3.5 percent increase in reviews within that timeframe, maintaining an outstanding five-star rating.
Located at 3309 W. Fullerton Ave. (between Kimball and Spaulding avenues.), Penumbra offers seafood like creole jalapeño shrimp, a potato and poblano soup and three cuts of steak. The New York G, Ribeye and Flat Iron G are all served with roasted poblano puree, house salad and a garlic and herb sauce.