José Andrés’ first full-service Chicago restaurant should open in July in River North, but the famous Spanish chef has a surprise. Underneath the Chicago location of Jaleo — Andrés’ tapas restaurant coming to the corner of Clark and Illinois — the celebrity chef is planning a speakeasy-style bar.
While Andrés has more than 20 venues across the country in LA, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C., this bar concept would be the first for his brand, according to a news release, and would offer “a diverse variety of experiences unique to the Third Coast.” Andrés’ camp isn’t ready to release the bar’s name.
The release did mention a “bespoke cocktail experience.” That may conjure up visions of Kumiko, the West Loop bar where bartender Julia Momose and staff create personalized cocktail flights for customers. Jaleo is also catacorner from another heavy hitter. Rick Bayless’ restaurants — Frontera, Topolobampo, and Xoco — stand on the southeast corner of the same intersection. In 2018, Bayless opened his own basement speakeasy-style spot, Bar Sotano. It’s Bayless’ first and only bar.
Beyond River North, Andrés has several projects planned near West Loop along the Chicago River inside the new Bank of America Tower. As the first wave of bank workers are being called upon to return to office life for the first time since last year, they’ll need something to eat. Andrés’ company, ThinkFoodGroup, have already opened an all-day cafe, Café By The River, on the building’s lower level. The cafe’s menu features sandwiches on Spanish bread, salads, and pastries.
Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar will debut in late 2021 on the first and second floors of the tower. While Bazaar Meat will follow the templated of the Las Vegas location, Bar Mar will be a mash up of Barmini in D.C. (which Andrés’ camp describes as “a culinary cocktail lab”) combined with Bazaar Meat’s energy. The three projects inside the tower are collaborations with Chicago’s Gibsons Restaurant Group, a company known for its high-volume steakhouses. ThinkFoodGroup and Gibsons also have a 10,000-square-foot private event space inside the building.
Andrés is known for his humanitarian efforts and willingness to share his political views. He’s opened Jaleos in four other cities. Technically, this won’t be his first Chicago restaurant. His fast-casual chain, Beefsteak, landed in Streeterville in late 2019. Come back for more details on his other projects in July.
Cafe by the River, 110 N. Wacker Driver, lower level, open 8 a.m.to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
Jaleo and unnamed José Andrés speakeasy, 500 N. Clark Street, scheduled for a July opening.
Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar, 110 N. Wacker Drive, planned for a late 2021 opening.