Chicago’s eaters and drinkers get a highly-anticipated tropical destination in River North this week. Industry stars and married couple Liz Pearce and Jonathan Meyer debut Flora Fauna in the former Bohemian House space on Illinois Street on Wednesday, June 12 in hopes of giving downtowners a casual restaurant and bar to relax and indulge in drinks and dishes inspired by their travels to Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
“We want [Flora Fauna] to be fun and casual,” Pearce, one of Chicago’s top cocktailers, says. “A place to get loud and talk to the people next to you and lounge and have a bunch of drinks.”
Pearce and chef Meyer’s partner Lou Waddle — owner of classic Chicago spot Green Door Tavern where Pearce’s essential speakeasy-style cocktail bar the Drifter is also located — secured the former Bohemian House space less than three months ago, she says. She and Meyer decided to turn the space into a home of “all our favorite things,” specifically a tropical vibe that feels like patrons are outside even in the middle of winter and a menu of the “world’s cuisines greatest hits.”
The quick turnaround of the space means the team implemented only cosmetic changes to make it “Tulum-inspired” and it still has a similar layout as Bohemian House. Changes include the “removal of anything European looking,” refacing the bar to be “California chic,” adding lots of tropical plants, twinkling lights, and painting using lots of greens and deep blues and tropical murals. Pearce says partner Allison Dincecco ran with her design ideas to create the finished space.
Full menus are not yet available but expect a range of drinks and dishes inspired by the aforementioned global cuisines, although Pearce says they’re “being very careful not to rip off anyone’s culture.” Items will include a hot pot that incorporates a molcajete, and a pineapple old fashioned with Old Forester 100 bourbon, pineapple cordial, blackstrap rum, and angostura bitters.
Flora Fauna opens on Wednesday and reservations are now available online. Take a first look around the space below.