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Leña Brava

900 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Critic’s Notes

Rick Bayless's most ambitious opening in decades is also among his most satisfying. In the heart of Randolph Street’s restaurant row, Leña Brava’s Baja-inspired fare succeeds at a difficult task: paying homage to the ethnic diversity of Baja California while also providing pleasure to the West Loop. The menu, packed with hot and cold seafood bursting with flavor, gets a creative boost from a hearth-cooking-only zone. Tremendous octopus “carnitas” are char-seared on the grill and served with lime-pickled onions, frisée, and warm bacon dressing. The breezy space feels a bit generic, and the service may still be working out kinks—but the savvy kitchen, refreshing ego-free vibe, and incredible list of 112 mezcals set the place apart.

Dishes We Liked

Coconut three ways ($12), Baja Seas hiramasa yellowtail ($15), grilled pineapple with spicy hazelnut salsa macha and knob onion tops ($12), braised short rib with cauliflower mash and Oaxacan pasilla salsa ($24), grilled cauliflower steak ($18), whole striped bass with red chili adobo glaze ($38), butter-roasted plantains ($8), “banana” split ($14), 23 Degrees cocktail—Chinaco Blanco tequila, coconut water, guava, lime ($12)

Additional Information:

Price: $20-$39
Cuisine: Mexican
Neighborhood: West Loop/West Town
Noteworthy: Child friendly
Outdoor dining
Wheelchair accessible
Hours: D Tue-Sun.
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