In two days, the head of the venerable Lou Malnati's deep dish chain opens his first non-pizza restaurant—Buzz Bait Taqueria, a fish taco spot, at 1529 N. Wells St. in Old Town. Inspired by Marc Malnati's travels on the west coast, Buzz Bait feels like a sort of urban beach shack, replete with gray and earth tones, barnwood, off white-painted brick, and oversized fishing lures branded with the Buzz Bait logo. [UPDATE: The Buzz Bait opening has been pushed back to some time this weekend.]
Patrons order from the counter from a selection of five oversized fish tacos (and one chicken and one avocado), which are sold in pairs at $8-10 for two. You can also make tacos into either rice or salad bowls, sides include chips and salsa and elotes, there's a chocolate cherry tamale for dessert (chocolate lava cake, cherry reduction, vanilla gelato wrapped in corn husk), and drinks include margaritas, a spiked milkshake, beer, wine and soda. Check out the full menu here.
After ordering, you can sit at one of four booths, six stools at a kitchen counter, or one of 10 counter seats or a communal high-top in front of a fully-retracting garage door on Wells Street. There's also a seasonal sidewalk patio for people-watching and sun-gathering in the warmer months (such as now).
The idea of one of Chicago's deep dish barons opening a fish taco restaurant may seem like a complete 180, but Malnati says he's been working on the concept for five years while constantly expanding his deep dish chain. His work will finally bear fruit on Friday when Buzz Bait Taqueria opens to the public at 4 p.m.—as one of very few restaurants in Chicago that are so dedicated to fish tacos. Take a look around above.