Sometimes the food and nightlife scene in Chicago lags behind cities like New York and Los Angeles, Be Leaf owner Becky Marks said. Her brothers, Danny and Doug, saw this when they opened Emporium Arcade Bar, as the bar/arcade thing was already trending in New York. Marks noted the same when it came to looking for a healthy salad option in the Loop. Chicago's options weren't up to the same standards of other cities, and that's why she's opening Be Leaf on Tuesday.
"Chicago shouldn't be behind when it comes to eating sustainably healthy," Marks said. "It's important to have these options available, not just for sit-down concepts."
Customers can pick from salads like the "Nom Namaste" (mesclun, chicken, soba noodles, edamame, marinated shiitake mushrooms, roasted shishito peppers, slivered almonds, grapefruit, broccoli, yuzu-miso dressing or ginger-lemon-sriracha dressing) or they can have staff make their own, picking from seasonal produce and proteins like skirt steak, salmon, chicken and bacon. Be Leaf will also have baked sweet potato falafel.
Salads may have a stigma, but Marks believes Be Leaf gives consumers a chance for creativity, allowing them to eat as light or as hearty as they want. She's been working with Local Foods and other local farmers to ensure Be Leaf makes salads full of the freshest produce the Midwest can afford. Marks also says there's a focus on the environment as dishware and other waste will be composted.
Be Leaf isn't the only new restaurant to focus on salads. New York-based Just Salad opened its first Midwest location in April in Chicago. Texas-based Snap Kitchen has been expanding in Chicago in recent months.
At Be Leaf, there's 26 seats inside. There won't be any arcade cabinets like at her brothers' Emporiums, but Marks vows "there will be a lot of puns." Check out the menu below.
Be Leaf, open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 29 W. Wacker Dr., (312) 877-5399.