The ouzo lessons have already started in Lincoln Park. Avli Taverna, from chef/owner Louie Alexakis and a crew that includes Fox Chicago sportscaster Lou Canellis, opened over the weekend at 1335 W. Wrightwood Avenue. The tavern features the Greek cooking Alexakis became known for at Avli in suburban Winnetka. He’s adapted that formula at an informal neighborhood setting near DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus.
Alexakis wants to steer Chicago diners toward Greek food they may not have tried. There are Greek casseroles like plaki made with pollack, tomatoes, and onions. There’s also a Greek-style barbecue lamb that’s carved table side or available to go. The item requires 72 hours of notice and made with either a leg of lamb or shoulder, depending on the number of customers needing to be fed. Familiar staples like gyros, shish kebobs, and a burger are also on the menu.
The space has room for about 50 people, and the drinks include ouzo service by the carafe or per person. Alexakis doesn’t like seeing the Greek spirit treated like a malört or another shock shot. He’s keen on educating patrons on the traditional way of sipping the drink accompanied with food. Besides ouzo, there are seven cocktails created by Chicago bartender veteran Peter Vestinos (Sepia, The Betty).
Check out the updated menus below. Avli Taverna is closed on Mondays, but will be back open on Tuesday. Alexakis also has plans for a River North restaurant, which should open in 2019.
Avli Taverna, 1335 W. Wrightwood Avenue, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday; plans to stay open past 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.