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Rick Bayless’ Frozen Meals Coming, Starbucks Debuting Fancy New Lunch, More Intel

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Plus, Spanish stalwart Mercat a la Planxa reopens

Rick Bayless Home Kitchen
Rick Bayless
Nick Murway

—The one and only Rick Bayless is getting into the frozen foods game. In conjunction with its new giant parent company, Conagra Brands, Bayless’ Frontera Foods will debut frozen bowl and skillet meals in grocery store freezers this summer, the Tribune reports. Bayless, whose dishes will include barbacoa taco bowl and chicken fajita bowl, told the paper that he had wanted to go frozen for eight years.

—It won’t be called “Starbucks Afternoons,” but the coffee giant is set to debut fancy new lunch items in April at more than 100 Chicago locations. The cheffy grab-and-go items should appeal to a variety of diets, according to Crain’s. Dishes include sous vide egg bites, a gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon breakfast sandwich, a cauliflower tabbouleh salad, and an herb chicken and fig sandwich.

—South Loop Spanish stalwart Mercat a la Planxa has fully reopened following a temporary shutter for renovations to its dining room and a menu upgrade. The restaurant on South Michigan Avenue had been closed since Jan. 2.

—West Loop bar New Line Tavern is one of the spots to offer secret menu items that are code for women to escape ugly or even dangerous first dates, CBS2 reports. The drinks, which are an “angel shot,” angel shot with ice, or an angel shot with lime juice, coordinate to staff members escorting women to their cars or public transportation, ordering an Uber or Lyft, and calling police.

—A bunch of Chicago’s best chefs and drink-makers are coming together for an intriguing dinner that benefits mental health and suicide prevention. The event, named “Food Gives Me Hope,” will feature Abe Conlon (Fat Rice), Noah Sandoval (Oriole), Andrew Brochu (Roister), Micah Melton (The Aviary), and much more local top talent. $250 tickets benefit Hope For The Day and are available here for the April 2 dinner at GreenRiver.

—And finally, although it opened last July, Jollibee in Skokie finally opened its drive-thru this month. So now folks can try the Chickenjoy and other Filipino fast-food favorites from the chain’s perpetually-packed first Midwestern location without leaving their cars or standing in line. As for the wait to open the drive-thru? It was a little busy.

New Line Tavern

201 N Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60661 312 212 5463 Visit Website


8001 South Main Street, , TX 77025 (713) 665-8914 Visit Website

Mercat a la Planxa

638 South Michigan Avenue, , IL 60605 (312) 765-0524 Visit Website


4365 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60641 (773) 736-5226 Visit Website


259 E Erie St Fl 18, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 337-0101