We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to discover which restaurants have been getting a noteworthy uptick in 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 are on a hot streak this winter.
Broken Barrel Bar
Photo: broken barrel bar/Yelp
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about West De Paul's Broken Barrel Bar, the gastropub and sports bar is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as "Sports Bars" on Yelp increased their review count by a median of 3.2 percent over the past month, Broken Barrel Bar bagged a 43.8 percent increase in reviews within that timeframe, maintaining a sound four-star rating.
Open at 2548 N. Southport Ave. (between Lill and Wrightwood avenues) since fall of 2018, Broken Barrel Bar offers New American fare like the Parmesan fries with a balsamic glaze, the macaroni and cheese with pulled pork and the black bean burger with avocado and a chipotle mayo. (View the menu here.)
Punch Bowl Social
Photo: punch bowl social/Yelp
West Town's Punch Bowl Social is the city's buzziest New American spot by the numbers.
The gastropub and New American spot, which opened at 310 N. Green St. in March, increased its review count by 13.5 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median review increase of 2.2 percent for the Yelp category "American (New)." It outperformed the previous month by gaining 4.2 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.
The new spot has other locations in Cleveland, Atlanta, Portland and more. Punch Bowl Social offers brunch, dinner and gluten-free options. Try the chicken pot pie with roasted carrots, celery and mushrooms, or the pork tacos with salsa, radish, queso and cilantro. (View the menu here.)
Octavio Cantina & Kitchen
Photo: octavio cantina & Kitchen/Yelp
Andersonville's Octavio Cantina & Kitchen is currently on the upswing in the Mexican category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as "Mexican" on Yelp increased review counts by a median of 1.8 percent over the past month, this Mexican spot increased its by 7.5 percent--and kept its rating consistent at 3.5 stars. Review counts increased by more than 470 percent on a month-to-month basis.
Open for business at 5310 N. Clark St. (between Berwyn and Summerdale avenues) since March, the business offers classic Mexican fare, like roasted chicken mole with buttered plantains; shrimp tacos with green cabbage, pineapple morita salsa and queso fresco; and chicken tortilla soup with avocado, lime and radish. (Check out the menu here.)