Lobo Rey, a Mexican restaurant featuring flattop table grills and a quick-serve taqueria component, will debut to the general public on Friday in the South Loop, near Soldier Field. The restaurant neighbors The Scout, a popular Bears game day bar on the corner of Wabash and 13th Street, and it shares the same owners. Daniel Espinoza, an Eater Young Gun semifinalist — who’s cooked for Diner Lab pop-ups in Chicago, and who developed the menu at Holy Taco! in Lincoln Park — is in charge of Lobo Rey’s kitchen.
The South Loop is starving for unique, non-chain restaurants, and Lobo Rey hopes to be up for the challenge. The restaurant hopes to cater to Bears fans who need a quick bite during football games. That’s where the tacos come into play. But Espinoza is an ambitious chef. His wife, Jhoana Ruiz, will bake the restaurant’s breads as her husband serves dishes like a pig trotter tostada. Football fans don’t normally think of pig’s feet during their tailgates.
Lobo Rey isn’t trying to compete with Benihana with their flattop table options. Tamales and fajitas are natural menu options that would benefit from the flattops. Espinoza has been practicing his presentation to give diners a show.
When the restaurant opens on Friday, they’ll have limited hours. Regular hours will kick in on Sept. 27. They’re still finishing up the space, as the restaurant’s sign rested on the sidewalk on Thursday afternoon, waiting for workers to attach it to the building.
There’s not many Mexican spots in the South Loop. The neighborhood is more than ready. Lobo Rey opens on Friday afternoon.
Lobo Rey, 1307 S. Wabash Ave., preliminary hours until Sept. 27 are 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.) Monday through Thursday; 2 p.m. to midnight (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.) on Friday and Saturday. During Bears home game days on Sunday, they’ll open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.