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Inside Rick Bayless' Long-Awaited Cruz Blanca and Lena Brava, Opening Thursday

Read the menus for the Randolph Row projects too

Nearly four years in the making, the venerable Rick Bayless is less than a week away from finally unveiling his long-awaited Randolph Row restaurant and brewpub to the public, which he previously said would be "like nothing" in the United States. Cruz Blanca and Lena Brava's space and menu are ready to go, and you can take a first look around in the photos above and read through the Baja-inspired food and beers below.

The restaurant and brewery, while adjacent on Randolph Street, are two separate establishments. Lena Brava, the Baja-inspired hearth-driven seafood restaurant on the corner, is bright with exposed brick, red banquettes, the bar on the west end (half raw bar, half liquor bar), and the hearth, where all the cooking will take place, prominently placed on the north wall.

To the west is Cruz Blanca, the brewery, tasting room and taqueria "of sorts." Mostly filled with brewing equipment, the darker space has a taco station in the back, communal tables, a beer bar, and a tiled mural with the logo. Both restaurant and brewery have second floors with more seating and bars, and windows overlooking Randolph Street.

The restaurant's menu is filled with food that's half raw/chilled and half hearth-cooked, and nearly all seafood. Whole fishes with salsas, meant for sharing, are the centerpiece, while selections of seafood cocktails, ceviches, composed dishes and salads are also prominent sections. The dessert menu is also below, with seven sweet options, small mezcal and tequila selections, and two "dessert shots."

Cruz Blanca Lena Brava Food

Clockwise from top left: Whole fish at Lena Brava, tacos at Cruz Blanca, Bloody Maria cocktail at Lena Brava, chicken tacos at Cruz Blanca [Photo: Galdones Photography]

Cruz Blanca will open with six house beers, mainly French-Mexican biere de gardes, as well as six guest beers. There are five filling options at the Oaxaca-inspired taco stand, which are minimally served with roasted chiles and onions, salsa, lime and tortilla. Four sides, three snacks, and two wine options fill out the menu.

Take a look around above and read the menus below. Both open on May 5 and reservations are available now. More to come.

Cruz Blanca

904 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1975 Visit Website

Lena Brava

900 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

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