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Three tacos in corn tortillas lined up on a plate Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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Lettuce Entertain You Tries Tacos in Former Michelin-Starred Space

Chicago’s largest restaurant group launches a new Tallboy Taco on Wednesday near Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, plans to introduce a new version of its taqueria brand Wednesday in a space that housed Michelin-starred Tru. Tallboy Taco returns, moving from River North to a space near Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville. I

In addition to housing highly-decorated Tru, Tallboy Taco’s space at 676 N. St. Clair Street was also previously home to short-lived LEYE Japanese teishoku spot Mr. Maki, which closed in August 2019 after four months. It’s now shared with the group’s Ramen-San Deluxe, which highlights popular menu items from sister restaurants Ramen-San and Sushi-San.

A few white picnic tables sit on a sidewalk outside a restaurant space.
Tallboy Taco sits beside LEYE’s Ramen-San Deluxe

The restaurant seems well situated to lure hungry people still working in the area — neighbors Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and hospitals are busy places due to the pandemic. A casual and convenient taco lunch could be a welcome respite for employees. The restaurant’s proximity to an audience of hospitalists is reminiscent of the approach taken by Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, which opened in early August in the Illinois Medical District and aims to fill a dining void for health care workers. The pandemic has kept hospital busy. So if Downtown Chicago is devoid of tourists, health care workers, patients, and their families will still need to eat.

Tacos seems to be a safe bet during the pandemic. Just like pizza, the food travels well and isn’t dependent on dine-in service. Chicago has already seen an infusion of several new pizzerias in the last few weeks. Taquerias could soon follow. A LEYE rep says they’ve been working on tacos for the past few months. Compared to the River North location, the menu has been completely overhauled by LEYE chefs Kevin Marquardt, Ash Ghassemzadeh, and Tim Hockett.

A green tiled counter in the middle of an enclosed restaurant space
Customers can order at the counter.
A restaurant interior with light wood tables, stools, and booths.
Indoor seating is capped at 25 percent.

Featuring an airy West Coast color palette of white, cool green, and light wood, the interior space has booths and tables with stools for diners. Basket lamps hang from the ceiling, and leafy green plants lend an organic feel a dining room that is otherwise entirely hard surfaces. Those who would rather eat outside will find several white picnic tables on the front sidewalk. The indoor dining area, like all Chicago restaurants at the moment, is capped at 25 percent capacity, and the patio is limited to 50 percent. Disposable and digital menus will be available.

Three tacos in corn tortillas lined up on a plate Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
A white bowl holds bright red cubes of watermelon dusted with white cotija cheese
A white plate of tortilla chips beside a smaller metal bowl of green guacamole

Guacamole and chips

Though it bears the same name and unfussy vibe, the new Tallboy Taco features a new menu of all-day breakfast tacos, rotating seasonal ceviches like ahi tuna (avocado, lime, yuzu) and watermelon (cotija, mint, sea salt, lime), and a selection of six tacos, including 18-hour smoked brisket (onions, cilantro), pork al pastor (marinated Beeler’s pork, onion, cilantro, pineapple), and masa-crusted avocado (cabbage, avocado crema, onions, cilantro). Corn tortillas will be made on-site with white corn masa from local tortilleria El Popocatepetl.

Those who have to go back to work can wash their tacos down with horchata, chia limon, and watermelon agua frescas (boozy addition optional), but patrons who aren’t about to be on the clock can order frozen palomas, margaritas, and beer. Meal kits have surged in popularity during the pandemic, and Tallboy Taco is taking the cue with a party taco kit for four or eight, available for pickup and delivery via Caviar.

Two small glasses of agua fresca, one pink and one white
Aguas frescas
Five round donuts covered in cinnamon sugar stacked on a white plate
Cinnamon sugar donuts

Tallboy Taco, 676 N. St. Clair Street, Scheduled to open Wednesday, Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, order for carryout and delivery via Caviar.

TRU

676 N Saint Clair Street, Chicago, IL 60611 312 202 0001

Tallboy Taco Streeterville

676 N. St. Clair Street, Chicago, IL 60611 312-584-3192 Visit Website

Lettuce Entertain You

5419 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640
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