Big-name Chicago chefs and restaurateurs Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill) and Stephanie Izard (Cabra) are jetting off to opposite coasts this summer to open new restaurants — the first for each in New York City and Los Angeles, respectively. Bayless is bringing Tortazo, his fast-casual torta chain owned in part by Filipino fast food giant Jollibee, to Manhattan’s Flatiron; Izard is already in Los Angeles’ Arts District to open a west coast outpost of her wildly popular Chicago restaurant Girl & the Goat.
The openings represent new frontiers for both of the highly decorated chefs. Bayless opened the original Tortazo inside Willis Tower just six weeks before Chicago’s first pandemic indoor dining ban. He teased his New York debut in April on social media, sending fans of his upscale Mexican restaurants, such as Michelin-starred Topolobampo, into a frenzy of speculation and excitement. They’ll be happy to hear that in addition to his menu of tortas, soups, and bowls, the New York location may have exclusive items such as tlayudas, according to Eater New York.
Izard’s west coast launch has been in the works for some time: the Top Chef and Iron Chef champion was initially slated to open the L.A. restaurant in 2019. After nearly three years and a global pandemic, the plan is for the spot to open this month.
In other news...
— Michelin-starred restaurant Elizabeth will reopen for indoor service on July 7 in Lincoln Square for the first time since the pandemic began, according to its newsletter. Originally scheduled for August, the change comes after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved up the city’s full reopening to Friday. Chef de cuisine Ian Jones (Band of Bohemia, NoMI, Bavette’s) will helm the kitchen, as chef and founder Iliana Regan will remain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to run the Milkweed Inn, the summer compound she owns with wife Anna Hamlin.
— J.P. Graziano’s, Chicago’s iconic Italian market and sandwich shop, celebrated its 84th anniversary on Monday with an honorary street sign along Randolph Restaurant Row. Founded as a corner store in the 1920s by Vincenzo Graziano, a Sicilian immigrant, the brand expanded into wholesale distribution and to become a purveyor of some of the city’s best Italian sandwiches. Block Club Chicago has more on the legendary local business.
— Famed Chicago drag queen Shea Couleé, now working the runway on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5, is lending her name to a collaborative burger at Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewhouse throughout the month of June, according to a rep. Proceeds from the Shea Couleé burger (short rib, poached egg, candied bacon confetti, black sesame bun), which also comes with sweet potato tots and Couleé’s eponymous tropical wheat ale, go to Brave Space Alliance.