With chef Stephen Sandoval’s excellent restaurant Sueños moving to West Town following an extended residency that ended in May, Soho House needed a replacement. It found one in former James Beard award semifinalist Jonathan Zaragoza, whose family runs the celebrated Birriera Zaragoza in Archer Heights (with a new location in Uptown). Čálli quietly debuted earlier this month inside the West Loop hotel and social club. Zaragoza most recently consulted on Con Todo in Logan Square and left in April 2022, six months before it closed. Here are five things to know about his new venture at Soho House.
- Located on the second floor of Soho House, Čálli is open to everyone, not just Soho House members. While Sueños’ wooden bar remains, the rest of the space has been redesigned. “I was really inspired by the natural beauty of Mexico and its landscape, the clay color of the Sonoran Desert and the rich plant life of Mérida,” Zaragoza says. “I was just trying to get all these colors and textures in the space.”
- Čálli means “home” in Nahuatl, and the menu features dishes from places where Zaragoza has felt at home in Mexico such as charcoal-grilled snapper served with herb salad and handmade flour tortillas inspired by the catch of the day offered Mariscos España in the fishing village of Popotla.
- The drink menu will feature seasonal fruit and agave spirits, starting with particularly juicy drinks for summer. One highlight is an old fashioned made using bourbon fat washed with the restaurant’s mole poblano.
- Zaragoza will be making a version of his family’s signature birrieria for Sunday brunch, which will launch on June 4. “I think brunch is for people that are either up early or couldn’t fall asleep because they’re kind of hung over, so our brunch menu is focused on comforting hangover cure food and birrieria is just the dish to do it.” Other options will include chilaquiles inspired by the version Zaragoza’s mother makes and huevos divorciados.
- Communal dinners were one of the signatures of Sueños, which began as a pop-up series, and Čálli will continue that tradition with monthly or bi-monthly meals where Zaragoza will collaborate with other chefs from the U.S. and Mexico.
Čálli, on the second floor of Soho House Chicago, 113-125 N. Green Street, open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday; reservations via OpenTable.