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8

Leña Brava

West Loop

Grilled pineapple  Photo: Jeff Marini

Oh, Rick Bayless. You couldn’t just open a regular restaurant, could you? Where’s the challenge there? No. You had to launch Leña Brava (“ferocious wood”) with no stoves and no gas hookup, just to keep things interesting.

The glossy space overflows with your followers, clanging forks over the breezy seafood of northern Baja California and clinking smoky mezcal cocktails. And in the kitchen, open-hearth cooking—courtesy of a 700-degree wood-burning oven—produces instant classics such as seared octopus “carnitas,” enfolded in steamy tortillas handmade from Oaxacan heirloom corn, alongside lime-pickled onions, frisée, and warm bacon dressing. Your raw bar generates tangy ceviches of hiramasa yellowtail and laminados (thin, sashimi-like slices) of striped bass with pickled vegetables. And, like you, Leña Brava’s servers are giddy food geeks who can’t stop talking about Michoacán avocados and Mazatlán blue shrimp.

Yes, Rick, you have caught lightning in a bottle again. This time, it’s a bottle of Fidencio Clásico Mezcal, which goes perfectly with your oven-roasted Baja black cod.

Read More:Rick Bayless Refuses to Rest on His Laurels at Leña Brava and Cruz Blanca

 

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