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A Japanese Izakaya Will Replace Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park

Yokocho should debut this week

Tonkatsu nuggets
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

It’s not quite winter, but the fresh snow on the ground means Chicago’s about to usher in a new season, and the owners of Mana Food Bar are also embracing change. Mana, a vegetarian staple for a decade, closed in September in Wicker Park. Co-owner Susan Thompson hinted she had plans for the space, and now she’s ready to share: Mana has morphed into a “Japanese alley bar.” The restaurant’s website has announced Yokocho should open on Thursday at 1742 W. Division Street.

Thompson’s reluctant to provide full details, as she’s concentrating on relaunching the space. But after 10 years of going meat free, it was time for a change. Yokocho’s menu includes panko-crusted chicken meatballs (tsukune), tonkatsu nuggets, and a burger. But there are also veggie options.

Bartenders are becoming more comfortable with mezcal, using it in non-traditional ways. One of Yokocho’s cocktails, “Celery and Smoke,” features the Mexican spirit with celery root liqueur. There are eight house drinks and a full slate of sake. Thompson is no stranger to Japanese food as she co-owns Sushi Dokku and Booze Box in the West Loop.

Yokocho means “alleyway” in Japan. An izakaya fits well into the sleek and recently remodeled space that Mana vacated. Customers can check out those changes this week.

Mana Food Bar

1742 W Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 Visit Website