Though it reopened only a month ago, Logan Square greasy spoon Johnny's Grill (2545 N. Kedzie, Logan Square, 773-278-2215) already has its regulars. That's largely thanks to new owner Sarah Jordan, who's brought to the diner a full bar, two patios, grub from her native Ireland, and—most importantly—the gift of gab. "I've been in kitchens the past few years," says the 32-year-old chef, formerly of Boka, Blackbird, and Cicchetti. "[Here], people can sit at the counter and you talk to them while you cook. You get to know everyone."
That hyper-casual vibe was precisely what Jordan was after when Cicchetti shuttered in 2014. "I worked in a fish and chips shop in Dublin when I was 16, [and thought] something like that would kill it over here," says Jordan, who moved to Chicago at age 21, left for three years, then returned for "a good old fashioned ass whoopin'."
On top of fish and chips—Jordan's priciest item at $12—Johnny's other instant hits include a traditional Irish breakfast (served starting at 8 a.m.), a not-so-Irish turkey club, and a rotating list of specials including meatloaf sandwiches and chilaquiles. Desserts are more traditional (beignets, chocolate pie, and a sundae), but given Jordan's background as a pastry chef, that's no crime.
Aside from its new leader, Johnny's' most notable addition is Begonia-bedecked barroom, built in the neighboring former flower shop after some light renovations (they blew out the wall). The bar's highlight is its boilermaker—they have five types—but guests can expect the whole nine yards in a neighborhood where local beer and craft cocktails are prerequisites to existence.