Barbecue and more: What's trending on Chicago's food scene?

Photo: Chay Fratello’s/Yelp
By Hoodline - Published on September 27, 2019.

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 discover which local businesses have been on the tips of diners' tongues 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.

Chay Fratello's

Photo: Chay Fratello’s/Yelp

Open since September 2018, this Italian spot, which offers sandwiches, barbecue and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Barbeque" on Yelp.

Citywide, barbecue spots saw a median 1.3% increase in new reviews over the past month, but Chay Fratello's saw a 54.2% increase, with a slight downward trend from a five-star rating a month ago to 4.5 stars today. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis Chay Fratello's's review count increased by more than 1,300%.

Located at 2241 N. Western Ave. (between Lyndale Street and Belden Avenue) in Bucktown, Chay Fratello's offers brisket, pulled pork and salads.

Chay Fratello's is open from 4–10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on weekends.

The Whale Chicago

Photo: The Whale Chicago/Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Logan Square's The Whale Chicago, the New American spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as "American (New)" on Yelp saw a median 1.3% increase in new reviews over the past month, The Whale Chicago bagged a 60.6% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a strong 4.5-star rating.

There's more that's trending on Chicago's New American scene: Flora Fauna has seen a 34.7% increase in reviews, and The Smith and Flat & Point have seen 23.6 and 22.2% increases, respectively.

Open at 2427 N. Milwaukee Ave. (between Richmond Street and Fullerton Avenue) since June, The Whale Chicago offers sandwiches, salads and chicken wings.

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.


Photo: Bandit/Yelp

West Town's Bandit is also making waves. Open since June at 841 W. Randolph St. (between Green and Peoria streets), the cocktail bar and traditional American spot has seen a 28.8% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.4% for all businesses tagged "American (Traditional)" on Yelp.

Bandit offers chicken shawarma, fish tacos and disco fries. Over the past month, it's maintained a convincing four-star rating among Yelpers.

Bandit is open from 11 a.m.–1 a.m. on Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.–3 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.–1 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 20.7% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.3% for the Yelp category "Italian."

It's not the only trending outlier in the Italian category: Figo Wine Bar has seen a 17.1% increase in reviews, and Aurelio's Pizza has seen a 14.7% bump.

Torchio Pasta Bar offers vegetable pappardelle, fettuccine with scallops and pasta primavera.

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.)

Bond Coffee Collective

Photo: Neil H./Yelp

West Rogers Park's Bond Coffee Collective is currently on the upswing in the coffee and tea category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as "Coffee & Tea" on Yelp saw a median 3.6% increase in new reviews over the past month, this spot to score coffee and tea and juices and smoothies increased its new reviews by 71.4% — with its Yelp rating improving from 3.5 stars to four stars. Review counts increased by more than 140% on a month-to-month basis.

Open for business at 7555 N. California Ave. (between Dodge Avenue and Jerome Street) since July, Bond Coffee Collective offers pastries, salads and oatmeal.

Bond Coffee Collective is open from 7 a.m.–8 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m.–8 p.m. on Sunday. (It's closed on Saturday.)

This story was created automatically using local business data, then reviewed and augmented by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.

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