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A Critic Finds the Spirit of New Orleans in Wicker Park

Plus, Locanda’s Italian fare deserves more attention in Streeterville

A restaurant with exposed brick walls with vintage seating and stools.
Ina Mae Tavern
Barry Brecheisen

Ina Mae Tavern channels the spirit of New Orleans to deliver deeply personal and inspired Southern fare according to Mike Sula. Chef Brian Jupiter, who was raised in the bayou, “put[s] it all out there” with a variety of staples. Gumbos are “worthy case studies,” especially the vegetarian one that “seems a gratuitous sop to plant eaters” but is “surprisingly satisfying.” Char-grilled oysters smothered in creole butter are “hot, gooey globs of slippery goodness” while a “poor man’s seafood tower” features deep-fried seafood, hush puppies, potatoes, and “enough lipoproteins to deluge the collective bloodstream of three healthy adults.” Dessert stars a seven-story doberge cake and “spot-on” beignets that make Café du Monde’s offerings “seem like tennis balls.” [Reader]

Locanda is an Italian newcomer inside the Residence Inn by Marriott in Streeterville that “deserves a bigger audience.” Phil Vettel writes the plates “not only are unfailingly pretty, but also often feature extra touches that speak to value and commitment.” The “super-rich, delicious” burrata is balanced by a pool of tomato gazpacho while “excellent” pastas include ravioli stuffed with a liquidy truffle filling and an “especially good” frutti di mare pasta. Among the entrees, there’s “well-made” osso bucco along with a “delicious” branzino over wine and fish-stock sauce. The “star dessert” is the peach-almond tart featuring a custardy filling and goat-cheese gelato. [Tribune]

Nobody is “making pomme frites quite like Friistyle” in Bronzeville, writes Claire Voon. The fast-casual joint serves up “crispy potatoes covered with decadent options, like chicken wings, roast lamb, jerk salmon filets, and Italian beef.” They’re seasoned with special sauces to “pack in extra flavors — enough to keep things interesting without going overboard.” Combinations include smoked-wing frites coated with boughetto, “a twist on mild [barbecue] sauce,” as well as jerk-salmon frites served with a mango salsa to “introduce a hint of sweetness.” [Chicago]


201 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

1415 North Wood Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-8320 Visit Website


5059 S Prairie Ave, Chicago, IL 60615

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