The team behind behind essential late-night burger spot Little Bad Wolf in Andersonville has opened a new restaurant in Logan Square. Again, taking a page out of a children’s story for a name, Gretel is open with a walk-up window and an abbreviated menu of carryout-friendly bites like jumbo fried shrimp, pork belly nachos, and carryout cocktails. The Armitage Avenue space previously housed casual Italian restaurant Ugo’s Kitchen & Bar.
Originally conceived as a dark and moody cocktail lounge with a wide-ranging menu, Gretel’s current iteration is just one step toward its final form, says owner Sol Ashbach. Gretel was initially scheduled to open March 23, but the governor’s state-wide closure of restaurants and bars changed ownership’s plans.
Little Bad Wolf’s menu includes burgers, tacos, bao, and lumpia. Ashbach uses that same philosophy at Gretel: “Where can I get a one-stop shop where you can have someone eating a hot dog next to someone eating a bone-in ribeye?” Ashbach says. “I want to have something for everybody.”
Some menu items, like the fried shrimp, are plucked straight from Little Bad Wolf’s menu, but there are plenty of new submissions, like a “Tomato Potato Sandwich” (tempura heirloom tomato, potato pancake, hummus, sweet-and-spicy aioli, bell pepper). Ashbach is also featuring take-home oyster kits (complete with a knife for shucking) and a classic Vienna Beef dog dragged through the garden in honor of his late father Phil Ashbach, the beloved founder of Ukrainian Village hot dog destination Phil’s Last Stand (later renamed Fatso’s Last Stand), who died of brain cancer in 2014.
Ashbach will add more to the menu in October and offer some indoor dining. Gretel’s expanded menu will feature options including a steak dinner for two, French onion soup, lobster bisque, and two types of ramen — tonkotsu and vegetarian mushroom miso. Gretel chef Revant Kohli has spent a year teaching himself to make ramen broth, Ashbach says, and he’s experimenting with making his own noodles as well.
Little Bad Wolf emphasizes cocktails in addition to its broad food repertoire, and Gretel does the same with to-go options like El Derecho (Lunazul tequila, Dolin Dry, Sichuan button tonic, pineapple, lime, salt & pepper tincture). There’s also a large selection of liquors, beers, and wines to go.
Ashbach says he decided on the name because the story of Hansel and Gretel has a strong tie to food. While walk-up window sales weren’t what Ashbach and his team had in mind when they set out to create Gretel, but they’re happy to be doing business after five months of sitting on a finished space without being able to serve. When dine-in service begins in October, he’ll be able to seat about 30 with social distancing. Delivery is available via ChowNow.
Gretel, 2833 W. Armitage Avenue, Open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily.