Some great news on the beer front — Lagunitas’s Chicago outpost is reopening for the first time since March 2020. On April 13, the North Lawndale “Taproom and Beer Sanctuary” (AKA brewpub and restaurant) re-opens with 32 taps, a full menu, and brewery tours.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Esme yet, now is the time to make reservations. For the restaurant’s most recent menu, chef Jenner Tomaska has created the “La Raza Latina” menu, focused on interpretations of Latin cuisine, inspired by dialogues with his family and staff. Dishes include quail with dueling interpretations of mole (from a grandma/daughter set of recipes) and a “Cuban breakfast” course complete with a ham croquette, pastries, and foamy, delicious coffee. The star of the meal is roasted Iberico pork collar, cooked for hours inside a clay pig, which is handmade by the chef team every day and then broken open tableside. The menu is $235 per guest and can be booked on Resy.
Last year, I teased the giant new patio coming to BLVD in the West Loop. Now it’s a reality; the giant new 100-seat patio opens on May 6. The new space has a 20-seat bar and a private dining space, and guests will be able to order from the complete menu from the restaurant. This is going to become one of the hottest spots in the neighborhood, so I’d make reservations early. If you want to get a first look, BLVD is hosting a glam Derby Day party on May 6 with a four-course menu and a competition to pick the winning horse (and win gift cards). Tickets will be on sale April 7 via Tock.
Even though it’s not exactly trendy, I am a huge fan of Geja’s — I go for special occasions, and make a point of stopping in at least once a year. As with many classic restaurants, the menu doesn’t really vary very much — but that’s about to change. For the first time in its 58-year history, Geja’s is launching a seasonal menu, featuring new sauces, new items for cooking, a jerk pineapple broth-based fondue, and a white chocolate fondue dessert. The new menu is available now, and runs through June.
If you haven’t yet checked out our list of Best New Restaurants, you definitely need to give it a read. Critic John Kessler named the best 11 new restaurants in town, and it’s an excellent, diverse group of spots all of which are worth the visit. If you want a little more behind the scenes look at how Kessler picked his faves, Fooditor did an interview with him about the list.