If you’re not able to descend on New Orleans with the throng of tourists this Mardi Gras, consider Junebug Café (4944 W. Irving Park Rd.). In their new shop at Portage Park's Six Corners corridor, chef Jacqueline Mancias and her husband Chris Murphy serve up sugar-dusted beignets and other French-Cajun delicacies.
Mancias is a Chicago native, though her grandmother (nicknamed “Junebug”), who hailed from Northern Louisiana, is the inspiration from the café. She instilled many French-Creole traditions in her family, like the meat pie recipe she made for her grandkids. Recipes for meat pies can vary, but think of them as the French-Creole answer to an empanada: Ground meat is seasoned with Creole spices and mixed with vegetables like celery, bell peppers, and onions, then wrapped in a flaky puff pastry crust and fried.
Mancias also whips up a blonde roux chicken and sausage gumbo served with a scoop of white rice. At $5 for a cup and $8 for a bowl, it’s the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day. If you want to start your day with something sweet, or finish off a meal, Junebug offers baked treats and beignets fried fresh to order (three for $5). Each one comes with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar sitting on top — just like they do down in the Big Easy, except Junebug trades chicory coffee for Dark Matter roasts.
If you’re swinging by this week, be on the lookout, since Mancias plans to offer a few Mardi Gras specials as well.
Junebug Café is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Sunday.