In this month’s edition: A purveyor of picnic goods. // Photo Courtesy All Together Now

Resy LineupChicago

The Resy Lineup: Apolonia Now Open, a Portuguese-Galician Feast, and More

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Welcome to Chicago’s Resy Lineup, your regular dose of recommendations on what to eat, drink, and see — updated on a monthly basis.

In this month’s edition: a multi-course Portuguese-Galician Sunday affair at Porto, seasonal goodness from Southern staple Big Jones, and Apolonia, the long-awaited sophomore restaurant from chef Stephen Gillanders.

 

April

The Restaurant Rec

This April marks 13 years for Southern stalwart Big Jones. At the Andersonville eatery, chef Paul Fehribach carries on the legacy of Edna Lewis to create a vibrant, down-home dining experience. Classic mains include a sizable bowl of creamy cheese grits with shrimp and Fehribach’s famous crispy fried chicken. Seasonal ingredients take center stage with a rotating dinner menu where, currently, the star is a house-butchered pork loin brined in sweet tea and served with ramp green spaetzle, creamed scallions, peach butter, and crackling. Don’t forget the buttermilk biscuits or skillet cornbread, both served with whipped sorghum butter. Now open for indoor dining, outdoor dining, and takeout. Book your table here.

 

The Drink Proposal

For Christopher LeMark, Coffee, Hip Hop, and Mental Health (CHHAMH) is a personal mantra, and the name of his Lakeview nonprofit coffee shop. Its coffee with a purpose at CHHAMH, which funds mental health services for Black South Siders and provides necessary resources for those facing food insecurity. To support, stop by this inspirational cafe and purchase a cup of coffee (drip or French press) or an espresso-based beverage and, of course, pastries. Location and more details here.

 

The Stay-At-Home Move

Beloved third place, All Together Now, is where hankerings go to find satiety. Grab a bundle of goods — sandwiches, cheese plates, sweet treats, and of course, wine — and carry them over to the landing place of your choosing. Perhaps your home balcony or one of the city’s blossoming parks for an enjoyable al fresco dining moment. Order takeout here.

 

The Event Invite

For a lavish Sunday feast like none other, look no further than Porto. You’re invited to Casa de Campos where, on Sunday, May 2, a Portuguese-Galician, multi-course menu (with optional wine pairings) awaits. Named one of “America’s Best Restaurants” by Esquire, Porto, led by executive chef Marcos Campos, has reimagined Sunday Funday in the very best way. Reserve your table and purchase tickets for Casa de Campos here.

 

The Weekend Pairing

Apolonia is the new sophomore concept by chef Stephen Gillanders. Known for a global fusion menu at his celebrated S.K.Y., Gillanders sets his gaze on the Mediterranean at Apolonia. On the menu, grilled and wood-fired dishes, a show stopping chicken Kiev made for two, a black truffle puff bread topped with toasted garlic, pecorino, and fried parsley, and much more. Book your table here.

Located in South Loop in the McCormick Place/Wintrust Arena complex, Apolonia is just a few steps away from VU Rooftop Bar. After a thrilling dinner at Apolonia, go up! All the way up to the 22nd floor where VU’s rooftop lounge with craft cocktails, fire pits, and stunning views of the lake and skyline awaits. Book your table here.


March

In this edition: A trailblazing Mexican restaurant turns four. // Photo Courtesy Mi Tocaya Antojería

The Restaurant Rec

There’s an abundance of good happening at Diana Dávila’s Mi Tocaya Antojería in Logan Square. The celebrated Mexican restaurant just turned four (!!) and has reopened for indoor dining with plans to relaunch patio dining coming soon. Book your table to reacquaint yourself with Mi Tocaya’s smoky tinga de pollo poblana and their lively spaghetti squash made elote-style.

Earlier this month, Dávila was named one of Time Out Chicagos Women of the Year for providing thousands of complimentary meals to Chicago families throughout the pandemic. And Dávila has extended her service work by providing much needed support for undocumented restaurant workers and local farmers through her new initiative, the Todos Ponen Project, which is currently accepting donations.

 

The Drink Proposal

Tea at South Loop’s TeaPotBrew Bakery pays homage to the staff’s mother who loved a good cup and was known for transforming a few teabags of basic black into a pot of gold. Chef-owner Veranda Runsewe heads up this treasured family-run cafe which boasts an impressive menu of more than 40 loose-leaf teas of black, green, and white, plus some fruit-forward blends like blueberry rooibos, hibiscus berry, and turmeric mango. You can alternate soothing sips of tea (served hot or cold) with nibbles of pastries made fresh daily by Runsewe. And if the weather’s nice, don’t hesitate to snag a table on TeaPotBrew’s sizable patio.

 

The Stay-At-Home Move

Julia Zhu’s Bar Roma makes it easy for us to fill our bellies at home with classic Italian favorites like impressive menu of handmade pastas, unforgettable meatballs, and a dessert menu that should not be skipped — all available for pickup or delivery. As an added bonus, during Chicago Restaurant Week (March 19 to April 4), the Andersonville restaurant will offer a four-course dinner that features a pan-seared branzino served in a seafood broth. This year, Bar Roma’s CRW menu is also available for pickup or delivery.

 

The Event Invite

This Passover, chef Zoe Schor and the team at Split-Rail in West Town will offer special Passover meal kits available for takeout. Each meal kit feeds two people and includes the following: Tender braised brisket with roasted carrot purée, two fluffy matzo balls with homemade chicken soup, four crispy potato latkes with sour cream, two hard-boiled eggs, nut-free charoset, and horseradish. Simply pickup your kit on Saturday, March 27, between noon and 3 pm, reheat, and enjoy. Purchase tickets here.

 

The Weekend Pairing

Remember when dinner and theater was a thing? Well, it still is!

Hop over to Roscoe Village where Sandy Chen owns the popular Le Sud Mediterranean Kitchen. There you can choose your preference of curbside pickup or delivery, indoor dining, or outdoor dining in one of Le Sud’s chic heated domes. Indulge in smoked ham and cheese croquettes and silky pork shoulder cassoulet; or go for Le Sud’s three-course Chicago Restaurant Week dinner which is a complete steal at $39. Book your table here.

Back at home, grab a glass of wine and head over to chicagoshakes.com where the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is gearing up for another online season featuring several plays available for streaming. Catch the comedic “Love’s Labor’s Lost” (running now until March 28) or the dark “I, Banquo” (March 22 to April 18), or live on the wild side and make it a double feature night. Check Chicago Shakespeare’s full schedule for details.


February

In this edition: Mezcal Mondays from home. // Photo Courtesy La Josie

The Restaurant Rec

The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant in South Loop is a steakhouse as quintessentially Chicago as they come. Built in the early 1900s as an actual firehouse, the restaurant opened 20 years ago and recently underwent renovations after a major fire. Honoring part of Chicagos history is what Chicago Firehouse is known for and what it does best, as found in the restaurant’s preservation of its polished century-old building and through its ever classic steakhouse menu. Traditional steak cuts, crisp wedges of baby iceberg covered in bacon and Roquefort blue cheese, and creamy potatoes au gratin are available for your enjoyment by carryout or while dining-in.

 

The Drink Proposal

When it comes to agave spirits, West Loop Mexican restaurant La Josie reigns supreme. Their agave bible is a thoughtfully laid out mini master class that covers more than just mezcal and tequila. If you’re trying to figuring out where exactly your palate lands on the spectrum of agave spirits, go exploring on Mezcal Mondays to taste a few selections in a mezcal flight. Or sip away at home with cocktails to go. La Josie has several tasty options and each bottle makes two cocktails.

 

The Stay-At-Home Move

This year’s annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week (CBRW) is an extended two-week-long love letter to Chicago’s community of Black-owned restaurants. On the list: notable stalwarts like Josephine’s Southern Cooking and Luella’s Southern Kitchen, plus dozens of Black-owned food and beverage favorites from across Chicagoland. And CBRW’s partnership with UberEats makes it just that much easier to indulge from home this year. CBRW runs until February 21st. Visit their site to see the full list of participants and to order online.

 

The Event Invite

Beatnik invites you to celebrate “Day 59,” aka February 28th (the 59th day of the year) with Bungalow Brunch. Perhaps crossing the finish line of what’s been the coldest, snowiest month on record in recent Chicago history is worthy of celebration. Brunch, cocktails, and a nice lineup of DJs will convene in Beatnik West Town’s heated courtyard where you’re guaranteed to knock off any lingering chills in your bones. Tickets for entry required. Brunch and cocktails not included.

 

The Weekend Pairing

February has been jam-packed with celebrations and it’s not over yet! Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge’s Lunar New Year menu honors the Year of the Ox with an assortment of traditional dishes and lucky foods (available until the end of February), which include noteworthy descriptions of each food’s cultural significance. Like nian gao (rice cakes), also called Chinese New Year cakes, which are lucky to eat because they have the symbolism of increasing prosperity every year.” Dumplings (steamed or fried) come in beef, vegetable, and shrimp and offer a brief history lesson for the uninitiated, “With a history of more than 1,800 years, dumplings (jiaozi) are a classic Chinese food, and a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, widely popular in China, especially in North China.” While in Evanston, head over to Fountain Square to catch the live ice carving competition taking place on February 20th. Cheer on the teams or join in the fun yourself


January

In this edition: Bubbling kimchi stew, courtesy of chef Andrew Lim. // Photo Courtesy Perilla

The Restaurant Rec

Perilla Korean American Fare’s heated patio, beautifully adorned with strings of ambient lighting and green ivy throughout, is open for dinner (carryout and delivery available for lunch and dinner). From there, shake off the cold even farther with a bowl of kimchi stew simmering with pork, rice cakes, tofu, and glass noodles; or silken tofu stew made spicy and with braised beef, soft egg, and silken tofu to start. Chef Andrew Lim’s contemporary take on Korean food means that every dish, including the ones that may already feel familiar, offer inspiration and comfort bite by bite.

 

The Drink Proposal

When Galit opened in 2019, the Lincoln Park Middle Eastern restaurant quickly became a destination for forward-thinking cocktails and wine. Although Galit’s dining room remains closed (takeout and delivery available), thirsts can still be quenched thanks to cocktail kits and cocktails to-go from Galit’s bar director, Olivia Duncan. Nice to be Here, a cocktail kit that serves four, is a delightful elixir of fresh grapefruit, honey, cinchona, and sumac that can be enjoyed spirit-free; as it comes; or boozy once you’ve added your own supply of gin or vodka as suggested. Cocktails to-go include Fox on the Rox (vodka, hibiscus, honey, sumac, and mezcal) and Saz Arak (date-infused Demerara, a hint of arak, and New Orleans rye whiskey). Both cocktail kits and cocktails to-go are available for purchase at Galit’s online store along with a nice selection of wine and foodstuffs.

 

The Stay-At-Home Move

In celebration of Black History Month, Mariano’s will host a virtual cooking class series featuring some of Chicago’s favorite culinarians. Chicago’s own chef Lamar Moore (Bugsy & Meyer Steakhouse, Swill Inn) will kick off programing on Feb. 1 with a crave-worthy menu: Pan-seared pork chop with molasses butter, black eyed pea cassoulet, and barbecued carrots. Also slated to cook throughout the month of February: chef Brian Jupiter (Ina Mae Tavern, Frontier), Itiona Scott (Essie Marie’s), chef James Sanders (Dirty Birds Southern), and chef Dominique Leach (Lexington Betty). Cooking demonstrations offer an invitation to explore how Black heritage is deeply rooted in everyday foods; and offer culinary inspiration for home cooks in need of a meal prep refresh. This series is free and early registration is recommended.

 

The Event Invite

While traveling to Italy isn’t in the cards for most of us anytime soon, nothing’s stopping us from enjoying a Night in Sicily. On Jan. 28, the Village at the Italian Village Restaurants will host a four-course Sicilian dinner paired with three bottles of Sicilian wine. The feast will be led virtually by Italian Village’s wine director, Jared Gelband, and Italian wine specialist Daniele Sborda. Tickets are $150 and additional four-course meals can be purchased for $75 each. Night in Sicily is a special way to indulge while also supporting an institution that’s meant so much to generations of Chicagoans, as Maggie Hennessy lovingly detailed in her recent piece about the Chicago classic. Purchase tickets here.

 

The Weekend Pairing

If you’d like, you could have S.K.Y. every single night of the week for dinner — and twice on weekends, since they also serve brunch. You could dine in at S.K.Y.’s atrium, or order for takeout and delivery. However you choose to navigate it, all roads lead to a satisfying meal from chef Stephen Gillanders. On the brunch menu, short rib hash topped with a fried egg and bulgogi butter; and barbecue beef bao with pepper jack and yuzu pickles. Dinner options are twofold: A three-course, choose-your-own-adventure-style complete with salad, entrée, and side; or go the à la carte route. Either way, a visit to Pilsen awaits.

While in the neighborhood, do take in some of Chicago’s finest art. Pilsen’s rich history of Mexican mural art has long been a medium for storytellers and activists who advocate for the community that lives there. Local artists regularly contribute to the surrounding canvas. Recently, a collective of artists joined Vault Gallerie’s Mural Movement, creating a series of murals at the viaduct on Peoria Street at 16th Street.

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