Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval's hectic schedule of opening restaurants combined with Loop construction to delay the opening of Latinicity, his massive long-in-the-works food hall in Block 37 on State Street. But nearly 20 months after inking a lease for the gargantuan 22,000 square-foot third-floor space in the downtown urban mall, Sandoval's Latin version of Eataly—much larger and more ambitious than any of his 35 restaurants worldwide—is nearly ready for an early/mid-October opening. And when that happens, downtown businesspeople, tourists, and food enthusiasts will have a veritable wonderland of Latin food and drink.
Scott Harney, who is Sandoval's director of operations in addition to being a partner in Bascule Wine Bar, says Latinicity is nearly ready to go and the group is in the "final stages" (staff training and cosmetic design). The space will house 12 food and drink stalls, 250 seats, a full restaurant, a full bar, and event spaces. Here's a rundown:
- Customers will enter Latinicity either from an escalator on Randolph Street or through the urban mall, but both end up in the same place: the oval-shaped full-service tapas restaurant and wine bar. Harney says it will cover a range of price points and options, from "a quick lunch to an extravagant business dinner."
- From there, wander through a long main hall, designed to "look like you're walking down the street in Spain or a Latin country," which will be lined with food and drink stalls reminiscent of street vendors and lead to "more and more surprises." Such as:
- A 50-seat full bar and lounge with a view of the Loop, serving Spanish and Latin wines, Latin beers that are "new to the (Chicago) market," tequila, pisco, rum and more. Similar to Eataly, patrons can carry their drinks while wandering the entire space.
- A torta and Spanish sandwich station.
- A ceviche stall.
- A mariscos (cooked seafood) stall.
- A grill station serving meats.
- An ensalata (salad) station.
- A juice bar for agua frescas and more.
- A coffee and pastry bar that will be open in the morning.
- An area in the underground pedway for coffees and grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items near the Red and Blue Lines.
- A grocery station with Latin fruits and vegetables, a butcher, South American cheeses, wine and beer, and spices.
- A "culinary center" for cooking classes and events with visiting chefs and more.
- A retail station with Sandoval's cookbooks, cookware and dishware, and more.
All in all, Latinicity will take up the entire Dearborn side of the third floor in the urban mall and employ more than 100 people. Much more to come before it opens in October.