Earlier in September, many Chicagoans cheered when José Andrés announced plans to open his first restaurant in the city. Now comes news that Jaleo will have company. Signs are already up for a Chicago location of Beefsteak in Streeterville near the corner of Fairbanks and Huron on the ground floor of a new Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine building.
Andrés’s team confirmed the upcoming opening and a spokesperson said the restaurant would open at the end of the year. That means Beefsteak would debut before Jaleo, making it Andres’s first restaurant in Chicago. While Jaleo, a tapas restaurant, is operated by Andres’s ThinkFoodGroup, Beefsteak is a fast-casual option. It will be operated by Chartwells, a food service company that operates at schools. It’s a division of Compass Group. Meanwhile, Jaleo is pegged for a mid-2020 opening.
Beefsteak is a vegetable-focused and fast-casual restaurant that uses sauces from some of Andrés’s full-service restaurants. The veggies are quickly cooked to order in matter of seconds. The restaurant’s tagline is “vegetables, unleashed.” Despite the name, no, it doesn’t serve beef.
Customers will find Jaleo’s bravas sauce, yogurt sauce from Zaytinya, and black bean sauce from Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. It’s an assembly-line restaurant where customers tell workers how they want to customize their salads or grain bowls. It also offers preset options like the “Frida Kale” bowl (rice, kale, sweet potato, black bean sauce, spicy tomato sauce, scallions, corn nuts, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and lemon honey dressing). Forget Beyond or Impossible vegan meats: Beefsteak serves a popular meat-free burger made with a beefsteak tomato. It also serves soup. Omnivores can try meat options in the form of chicken sausage.
The first Beefsteak opened in 2015, and it’s a restaurant designed to compete with the Chipotles of the world that get crowded during lunch. Northwestern Medical isn’t Beefsteak’s first association with a healthcare conglomerate. Last year, it opened a location inside Cleveland Clinic. There are two locations in D.C., and another in Maryland. A Philadelphia location closed in 2018. Andrés is well-known across the country, particularly in the Washington, D.C. area where he’s based.
Andrés is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee known for his efforts to feed the needy. He brought meals in 2017 to Puerto Rico for victims of Hurricane Maria. Earlier this month, he visited the Bahamas and brought members of his World Central Kitchen charity to help victims of Hurricane Dorian. He’s known for his giving and engaging fans on social media. On Wednesday, after a fan sent photos of Naval cadets enjoying his food, Andres tweeted and wrote each cadet would get a gift card for a bowl from Beefsteak.
Andrés’s team said earlier this month that the chef was interested in opening more restaurants in Chicago. Jaleo is still considered a debut as ThinkFoodGroup calls it Andrés’s first “signature” restaurant to open in Chicago. Stay tuned for more news — signature or otherwise.