In this month’s edition: A time-honored Mexican staple. // Photo Courtesy Las Fuentes Restaurant

Resy LineupChicago

The Resy Lineup: An Ethereal Omakase, 90’s-Tinged Cocktails, 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: Las Fuentes celebrates a big one, book early for a seat at the newly minted Michelin-starred Omakase Yume, and more.

 

May

The Restaurant Rec

This year marks 39 years for Las Fuentes! What began as one humble restaurant launched by Albarran family patriarch, Don Jorge, in the early 1980s, has turned into three family-run restaurants sprawled across Chicagoland. While much has changed over its nearly four decades in business, serving up delicious Mexican dishes to generations of loyal diners remains a constant. Go for the food and stay for the jumbo margaritas, best enjoyed while fully immersed in Las Fuentes’ celebratory atmosphere, found in its dining room and on its sizable patio.

 

The Drink Proposal

The cocktails at Nipsey’s are much more than a good drink. They’re a playful icebreaker guaranteed to jumpstart lively conversations that’ll begin with “Remember when…?” With names inspired by classic 1990’s pop culture moments, cocktails like the summery strawberry and coconut “Pam’s Jam,” and the “Uncle Phil” old fashioned, are welcomed bar chat prompts that we all need as we gently dust off our social skills. Cheers!

 

The Stay-At-Home Move

Because pizza is always the answer, ordering a takeaway New Haven-style pie from Piece Pizza comes highly recommended. While it’s hard to go wrong with any of their many combinations, the Hot Doug’s Atomic Sausage pizza — topped with Hot Doug’s legendary sausage, red sauce, pepper jack cheese, and caramelized onions — is a standout. Be sure to order a cold Piece brew, available in a 64 oz. growler or a new 32 oz. crowler.

 

The Splurge

Omakase Yume chef-owner Sangtae Park’s lifelong dedication to mastering the culinary artistry of Japanese cuisine has garnered much well-deserved global recognition for his Michelin-starred restaurant. Come prepared to experience the chef’s tasting menu, a skillfully prepared, 16-course meal that changes daily, and enjoy the journey.

 

The Weekend Pairing

Weekend brunch at Loop spot, Roanoke, has something for everyone. Its menu ranges from lighter breakfast fare like a spiced quinoa and Greek yogurt power bowl filled with seasonal fruit and chia seeds; to a substantial chicken and waffle drizzled with chipotle honey. Quintessential brunch cocktails such as Roanoke’s signature bloody Mary are tasty complements.

Afterward, a post-brunch Art Institute of Chicago visit to experience Bisa Butler: Portraits is the move. This showcase of stunning quilts by renowned contemporary artist Bisa Butler offers textile portraits that honor a vibrant collection of stories rooted in the diverse experiences of Black life. Bisa Butler: Portraits runs until early September. Purchase tickets here.


April

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

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.

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