Chilam Balam, a Mexican small-plates BYO in an East Lake View basement, glowed while an appearance on Top Chef sent the chef Chuy Valencia’s meteor of fame streaking across the food world. Before, during, and after Valencia’s Top Chef stint, Chilam chugged along, successfully enough that a sister restaurant, Shaman (1438 W. Chicago Ave., 312-226-4175), opens today.
Like Chilam Balam, Shaman will serve Mexican small plates, allow BYO, and accept only cash. Unlike its older sibling, Shaman will take reservations, have more seats (65—Chilam has 45), and offer outdoor dining in the summer.
Natalie Oswald, with CB since it opened and promoted to exec chef since Valencia’s departure to work on a semi-autobiographical cookbook, says that only a few Lake View dishes will make the trip to Ukrainian Village, such as the guacamole and the seviche. She’s been toying with new menu items, such as a butternut squash tamal with pecan mole and cranberry sauce, as well as pan-seared quail with bacon-morita chile broth, spaghetti squash, and green grape pico de gallo. Varieties of sopes and flautas will change periodically, as will the accompaniment to the gingerbread on the dessert menu. Chilam Balam’s peanut butter empanadas and tres leches will appear on Shaman’s menu. In the long term, Oswald plans to split her time between the two restaurants.
Oswald says the ambiance will be similar. “[Shaman] will be a little more dressy, because Chilam is in a basement,” she says. By that principle, if they ever take over the Signature Room in the Hancock Tower, it’ll be tuxedos-only.