The key to understanding Second Generation, the new Logan Square restaurant from the team behind Mott St is the vestibule wall plastered with vintage menus from Chicago restaurants. Each menu stokes nostalgia, a comforting feeling that existed before social media influencers and “best of” lists in magazines.
No one cared if they were seen at these venues. These were restaurants, like Harold’s Chicken, Fat Wily’s Rib Shack, and White Fence Farm where customers could expect solid food, friendly service, and consistency. Second Generation takes that foundation and pushes it forward with a blend of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese flavors, all elements that make up contemporary American cuisine. It’s the story of second-generation Asian American owners Vicki Kim, Nate Chung, and chef Edward Kim.
Crews have made major alterations to the former Mini Mott space, turning the dining room into a bistro where locals could find themselves eating multiple times a week. A warm restaurant that’s like a Swiss Army knife: ideal for celebrations, family dinners, or date nights.
For Second Generation to live, ownership had to silence Mini Mott, the restaurant centered around chef Kim’s famous cheeseburger. The burger, created in 2015 at Mott St, part of an Eater Chicago challenge in which the publication asked restaurants that didn’t serve burgers to create one for a limited time, found an audience. Mott ownership believed they had a potential goldmine, a burger to challenge Small Cheval’s Sysco patties. Alas, the restaurant world is also a real estate game, and it’s hard to compete with Small Cheval when they have ties to large developers like Sterling Bay. The pandemic didn’t help matters for Mini Mott either.
Second Generation’s menu is much larger than Mini Mott’s burgers, wings, and skewers. Chef Kim takes classic dishes — many of them French — and tweaks them. He gives the beef in the steak frites a Korean barbecue marinade. Octopus, the hottest ingredient in Chicago, is served in a medley of veggies flavored with fermented black bean paste. The pork belly appetizer might be the city’s best version, served with sourdough.
And because of ownership’s willingness to create a menu with variety, they’ll still serve Mott’s burger and “Everything” wings (these are good for Sichuan pepper lovers). There are also new additions like the Midnight Pasta, a perfect carb load to soak up any party antics.
But for drinkers who don’t imbibe alcohol, don’t worry. Second Generation has a spirit-free drink list and the hibiscus spritz is refreshing. Boozy spritzes are also available. Brunch is already offered on the weekends with a variety of sandwiches, French toast with hibiscus butter, and a side of kimchi potato hash.
Second Generation is the culmination of a lot of pondering since 2020. The result is a neighborhood bistro for the next generation, and a restaurant worth a special visit.