Today's opening of Velvet Taco in the Gold Coast isn't the only nontraditional Mexican import coming to Chicago. Another restaurant that takes Mexican food in directions rarely seen south of the border is slated to open in the spring, but this one is an expansion partnership with a well-reviewed spot from Baltimore.
Barcocina, "a chef driven modern Mexican restaurant and social scene" (according to local managing partner Rick Douglas), is heading to the former Soprano's at 2901 N. Sheffield. The target opening date is sometime in March or April.
Barcocina Baltimore opened last year, garnering four stars in the Baltimore Sun, largely based on its open air location on that city's waterfront in addition to dishes the paper describes as "surprising, idiosyncratic and delicious." The Sheffield location isn't on the water, but will have "multiple garage doors lining the restaurant" to bring in open air in the warmer months, as well as multiple fireplaces for winter use.
As evidenced by the "modern Mexican" description, Barcocina's food is far from traditional. Baltimore's menus include many twists and trendy fusions, such as tuna tartare taquitos, beef "pot roast" tacos, and maple sausage pancake sliders at brunch. Douglas says the Chicago location's menu will have the same categories but "different menu items to fit the Chicago food scene." Cocktails are based on fresh juices.
He declines to reveal the name of his chef because he has two weeks left at his current workplace, only saying that he is "from a great Chicago restaurant group." He adds that said chef will have "full creative control of the menu."
"Modern" Mexican restaurants are definitely getting trendy, as Mas opened last year in the West Loop in addition to Texas-based Velvet Taco opening today. Lakeview residents will get their chance to try Mexican twists in a month or two if the opening stays on schedule.