The Southport Corridor dining scene is getting two new players, compliments of 4 Star Restaurant Group, which owns and operates nine restaurants including Remington’s, Dunlays on the Square, Smoke Daddy, and Crosby’s Kitchen (which also makes its home on Southport).
“We’re taking over the Southport area because we like it,” the group’s corporate chef, Todd Stein (Cibo Matto, the Florentine) states simply, adding that the neighbors have money and seem to like spending it on food and drink.
First up, meet the yet-to-be-named, high-energy Mexican joint slated to open in October in the former Justin’s space (3358 N. Southport Ave., Lake View). 4 Star is gutting the space, but not to worry; the beloved backyard patio will remain—with some updates.
Stein says the focus is “Americanized Mexican food that everybody likes to eat,” citing fajitas, chile con queso, housemade chips and guac, and some “really great” tacos. Also, since, per Stein (and everyone else), “you just want to drink when you are eating Mexican food,” expect margaritas, mezcal aplenty, and beer.
In contrast to the fiesta up the street, Stein predicts French-Italian restaurant Ella Elli (1353 W. Cornelia Ave., Lake View) will be a date-night destination. Stein will man the kitchen, using a wood-burning oven to create a mix of vegetable dishes (including grilled broccolini with pepperoni and charred lemon vinaigrette), fish and meat, and crafting a selection of housemade pastas.
The 70-seater will take up residence directly behind Crosby’s Kitchen, and will make its grand entrance next spring. “It will be upscale in nature, but still a ‘blue jeans and T-shirt’ restaurant since it’s in this neighborhood,” Stein says.