Old Town has a new casual place for Korean chicken wings and an assortment of Mexican-Korean items from the chef who opened Jane’s in Bucktown. Three days after Jane’s closed, chef Tony Recillas opened Forastero at 449 W. North Ave. The Mexico City native has always wanted to open a taqueria and has added inspiration from Jane’s co-worker Lorenzo Terrazas, who lent his knowledge of Korean food to the kitchen.
Recillas is fan of street food, and Forastero’s menu reflects that love. His son, Andy Recillas, said they ran out of ingredients for the restaurant’s two flavors of Asian-inspired chicken wings on opening day due to demand. The “Kung Fu Wings” with habanero/apricot fits more of a Sichuan flavor blend, while the pomegranate/ginger “Dak Wings” are more Korean. There’s no affiliation with Dak, the Korean wing spot near Loyola University’s Rogers Park campus.
Tony Recillas left Jane’s in January (he was there when it opened in 1994), but he’s had the idea for Forastero for more than a year. He was helping Jane’s as a consultant in the interim. The restaurant’s name is a seldom-used Spanish word that means “outsider.” The significance comes from old Westerns that Recillas watched in Mexico. The English was dubbed over in Spanish.
“There’s that iconic scene when the one guy comes into the bar and someone says ‘Who is that guy? He’s not from around here,’” Andy Recillas said.
By fusing Korean flavors with his native Mexican foods, Recillas and his family (his son and daughter —Daniela Recillas— are helping) have become those mysterious strangers. There’s tacos, cochinita pibil with onions pickled by Recillas, and more on the menu.
It’s not the only Korean-fusion spot nearby. KorFusion opened earlier this summer at Halsted and Division. Forastero will eventually offer delivery, and they’re BYO. Andy Recillas suggests that customers bring in a bottle of mezcal. They’ve developed “The Forastero Mix” for a fruity drink made with agave syrup and pineapple, grapefruit, and lime juices. It also goes well with tequila, Recillas said.
Jane’s was known for its burger, and some are clamoring it to be a secret item at Forastero. Recillas is open to the possibility, but he’ll have to run that by his father and older sister. The beloved Bucktown restaurant was also known for brunch. Perhaps a Korean version of chilaquiles could be in the restaurant’s future.
The restaurant is also looking to serve Old Town after bars close. They’ll need to bulk on staff before they do that, but for now, the neighborhood has a unique new restaurant inside the former Shiso space during the daytime. Forastero is open.
Forastero, 449 W. North Ave., (312)265-0322 open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.