Meet Latinicity, Chicago’s Immaculate New Food Hall
Food halls are the growing culinary trend these days, combining a name-brand chef with a grocery-market concept full of quick, casual restaurants giving you every reason to never stop eating. Chicagoans got their first taste of the craze with the opening of Eataly, and now the next big contender is Latinicity, a 20,000sqft food hall in the Loop celebrating all the flavors of Latin America. Here’s what you need to know heading into your first visit.
A Top Chef Masters competitor and an Iron Chef are behind the project
Celebrity chef partners Richard Sandoval (Zengo) and Jose Garces (Rural Society, Mercat a la Planxa) joined forces -- and Latin backgrounds, Mexican and Ecuadorian, respectively -- for the large-scale collaborative concept.
It’s essentially a cross between Eataly and Foodlife -- with a Latin twist
The unique food hall features retail shelves and custom-built food carts stocked with specialty products from Spain, Portugal, and other Latin American countries. A collection of mini eateries will operate similarly to the self-serve food court at Water Tower Place, with special charge cards that guests will pay out at a cashier when they’re ready to leave.
There are a dozen counter-service restaurants
Including Burguesa (featuring a chorizo burger, hot dogs, and fries), Machefe Taqueria, Mariscos (seafood), Sushi and Ceviche (Japanese-Peruvian fusion), Ensaladas, Chaufa (stir-fry), Saladero Latin Grill (grilled and smoked meats), Tortas & Cocas (sandwiches), and a coffee shop that also offers smoothies and desserts. Added bonus: all of the food items will cost $10 or less.
The space houses a full-service tapas spot
While the various counter-service eateries within the space are Latinicity’s main draw, its sit-down restaurant, Pata Negra, shouldn’t be overlooked, especially the chicken mole cazuela and the Cubano sandwich.
... and -- this is important -- a full bar
From Spanish cava to Argentinian malbec, the well-stocked bar has a bottle of something for all your wine needs. Not feeling the vino? It has a strong lineup of cocktails, too.
It’s open late (for the Loop, that is)
Latinicity is open until 9pm Mon-Thurs, 10pm Fri-Sat and 7pm Sundays, making it a golden destination for post-theater Chori-Frita Burgers (chorizo and black Angus beef patty, manchego cheese, bacon mojo, crispy potatoes, brioche bun) and carne asada tacos.
You’ll have to navigate a shopping mall to get there
Yes, Latinicity is stationed on the third floor of the massive Block 37 retail complex, but that shouldn’t preclude you from overcoming holiday shoppers to check it out. Also, there is a luxury movie theater planned for the fourth floor, slated to open just in time for Star Wars -- if a pan-Latin American feast followed by some lightsaber duels doesn’t entice you, we don’t know what will.
It has a separate downstairs meal counter for grab-and-go
Whether you’re in need of a quick breakfast before work, a to-go lunch, or a coffee from local roaster I Have a Bean, the offshoot Loncheria, accessible via the Block 37 pedway, makes for a convenient stop when you need to refuel on the go.
All the wall art is hand-painted with a Dia de los Muertos vibe
The space is flush with bright, cheerful art, such as a floor-to-ceiling sugar skull mural, an oceanic scene at the Mariscos bar, and colorful designs painted on structural columns, painted by skillful Chicago-based painter Teresa Magaña.
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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a freelance food photographer, food blogger at KailleysKitchen.com, and recovering vegetarian. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.