Forthcoming Spanish tapas restaurant Boqueria, the first Chicago location for the New York-based company, plans to start serving paella, boozy brunch, and more early next month in Fulton Market. Executive chef Marc Vidal said in an interview that he hopes to open the first week of December at 807 W. Fulton Market, just beside the controversial Fulton Market District gateway. It’s the chain’s seventh location — there are four in New York and two more in Washington D.C. — and its first in the Midwest.
Vidal, a Barcelona native who grew up working under his grandmother in a restaurant kitchen, said the menu will be ever-changing, drawing on seasonal ingredients. That can pose difficulties in often-chilly places like Chicago, but he’s confident that his experience in New York has prepared him for the challenge.
The opening menu is still in development but Vidal promises a cocktail-laden brunch with bottomless drinks and dishes such as a chicken-and-eggs paella and jamon iberico, a cured Spanish ham sliced paper-thin a la minute. He also plans to make use of local purveyors including Publican Quality Bread, Slagel Family Farm, and beef experts L&L Packing.
Beverage director Kieran Chavez has created an old fashioned with bourbon and Spanish brandy that will be exclusive to the Chicago location. He also plans to integrate locally-made spirits such as Letherbee, the Chicago-based distillery from former Lula Cafe bartender Brenton Engel, into the cocktail selections. He’ll also offer customizable vermouth drinks on the rocks with seltzer — patrons can choose from a selection of garnishes. Drinkers can also anticipate an all-Spanish wine list, as well as rotating beers from Spanish and local breweries, including Off Color Brewing.
The Chicago restaurant will seat 100, with 14 or 15 spots along a kitchen counter and 18 at the bar. An outdoor patio will seat around 30 when it opens in the spring. Vidal believes that plenty of high-top seating in the dining room will foster a friendly, energetic vibe. “We feel like it helps people connect with servers and creates the energy,” he said. “It makes a big difference.”
Boqueria’s official opening date is not yet available, so stay tuned for more news as December grows closer.