Morgan: The chef’s stop
The newest El stop is a mecca for celebrity chef worship.
A mecca for celebrity chef worship, this stop, added in May 2012, offers optimal dinner hopping between the Fulton Market and Randolph Street restaurant rows. Walk to Next (953 W Fulton Mkt) and the Aviary (955 W Fulton Mkt), Grant Achatz’s ticketed, concept-shifting restaurant and adjoining bar, or Moto (945 W Fulton Mkt, 312-491-0058), Homaro Cantu’s flagship restaurant. Part kitchen, part laboratory, it has been the testing zone for culinary innovation and patents for nearly a decade—and may be the most fun white-tablecloth experience in Chicago. Under the stop, rising stars Mark and Liz Mendez are the power couple behind Vera (1023 W Lake St, 312-243-9770), a chef-driven wine bar. Mark mans the kitchen, which pumps out mind-blowing Latin dishes such as duck paella with chorizo, chestnuts and roasted shallots, while Liz runs the wine list and is dead set on getting Chicagoans hooked on sherry. And former Más chef John Manion makes his return with La Sirena Clandestina (954 W Fulton Mkt, 312-226-5300), his coastal Latin American restaurant that draws heavily on Manion’s time spent in Brazil—and doesn’t take reservations. Space is precious and fills up quickly, particularly at the bar that’s open until 2am.