Steingold’s of Chicago, the contemporary Jewish deli that helped usher in a new era for a famously old-school culinary genre in the city, is leaving its original home after three years on Irving Park Road. Fans can stock up on lox, pastrami, and more in North Center until December 27. After that, they’ll have to keep the cravings at bay until the new space debuts in early February next to the Music Box Theater.
Chef and owner Aaron Steingold says a change was badly needed on multiple fronts, as the kitchen is too small for the restaurant’s bagel operation and his landlord raised the rent during the pandemic. The new location, 3737 N. Southport Avenue — about a 20-minute walk from North Center — has a larger kitchen, increased foot traffic, and close proximity to an iconic local cinema.
“What I really love about it is we’re not losing our neighborhood following,” Steingold says. “We’re not giving up on the goodwill we’ve built with the neighborhood.”
The new location will add some new items like a Chicago-style deep-dish bagel pizza. Staff construct the unusual mashup by making a giant bagel that’s boiled and baked, Steingold explains. Then they cut the top off, scoop it out, and make a deep dish pizza inside. He plans to offer it by the slice, along with a brisket burger and more on a “rush to the theater” menu for moviegoers. As the location is only a 10-minute walk from the home of the Chicago Cubs, Steingold is also planning a “walk to Wrigley” menu featuring travel-friendly items like bagel dogs on a stick and latke tots.
The larger kitchen will also create space for more varieties of bagels and cream cheeses, along with sweets made on site. Steingold pressed pause on catering during the pandemic, but once a semblance of normalcy returns, he aims to resurrect and expand it. He’s also hoping to launch dinner service, an option that never caught on at the old location but one that he believes may flourish in the new spot.
The forthcoming location has other perks, like a walk-up window. He’s slimming the sit-down portion of the business with 12 seats at a diner-style counter, but will also feature a 30-foot patio when the weather allows. If a COVID-19 vaccine rollout is successful and dine-in service resumes, he may look into taking over a neighboring vacant space for a dining room or bar. The space will maintain the bright, clean aesthetic the deli’s customers associate with the restaurant, outfitted with white subway tile and hand-painted signage from Heart & Bone Signs.
In addition to its original North Center location, Steingold’s also operated a stall inside short-lived Chicago food hall Fulton Galley. Though the stall quickly developed a following in Fulton Market, the hall suddenly closed after five months. The Southport Avenue space formerly housed Italian spot Pasta Al Gusto. That restaurant is relocating to a Roscoe Village space previously occupied by Black Dog Gelato.
Steingold’s of Chicago, 3737 N. Southport Avenue, Scheduled to open in early February.