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Yardbird Chicago features a “floating” bourbon room.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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Nationally Recognized Yardbird Arrives With Upscale Comfort Food and Plenty of Bourbon

Ownership claims they’re the anti-chain in opening its seventh location

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Restaurateur John Kunkel says he’s been traveling around the country over the last five years in scouting new locations for Yardbird, a restaurant serving fried chicken, deviled eggs, and grits, biscuits dropped inside luxurious spaces.

After debuting in Miami with a Top Chef alum in the kitchen earning a place on the 2012 Bon Appetit list of 50 Best New Restaurants, Kunkel expanded to Los Angeles, D.C., Las Vegas, Dallas, and internationally to Singapore. Add Chicago to the list as Yardbird has arrived on the Near Side, in between River North and Streeterville at the corner of Wabash and Grand. The official opening day is Friday, October 21.

Kunkel founded a company, 50 Eggs, that includes Yardbird and five other restaurants that haven’t made it to Chicago. He stresses that he’s “anti-chain” and that his company plans to spend plenty of time engaged within Chicago’s communities.

“Chain is a dirty word for us,” he tells Eater. “Each restaurant and menu is curated to the city where we open. We take a humble approach in wanting to appeal to locals and be a part of the community.”

Beyond Yardbird’s signature items, there are also dishes exclusive to each location. For example, in Chicago, there’s a new porchetta dish with parmesan white beans. Yardbird’s origins might be more with Southern cuisine and soul food, but they’ve expanded to include other comfort food.

There’s also a bourbon room that “floats” above the bar and the restaurant. Look for plenty of whiskey drinks including an Old Fashioned made with bacon-infused Jim Beam bourbon. The bourbon room is available for private events — it can be had for a party of eight starting at $2,500.

Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken
Sliced ribeye with chimichuri
Big proteins are a signature.

Rockwell Group has designed the space, and visitors will be lying if they’re reminded of P.F. Chang’s the space’s previous tenant. Tour the space and check out some food photos below.

Yardbird, 530 N. Wabash Avenue, (312) 999-9760, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends; weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Inside the bourbon room.

The restaurant was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2012.
The Rockwell Group designed the space, a former P.F. Chang’s.
Four deviled eggs on a plate.
Deviled eggs
Fancy cheese and charcuterie.
A basket of biscuits
Ode to French Onion Soup
Heirloom field pea hummus.
Blueberry French toast fritters

Yardbird Chicago

530 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 999-9760 Visit Website
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