Food & Drink

Spanish succulence and cocktails on tap in River North

If Don Flamenco taught America anything, it's that the Spanish have a certain stylistic flair to go along with their ultra-simple fighting patterns, so it should be no surprise that the Mercadito crew's new 334-seat Iberian restolounge Tavernita is vulnerable to stomach punches when setting up a Flamenco Punch appointed with a stunning copper ceiling, a chocolate- and bronze-toned dining room, exposed filament bulbs, and a mounted bull's head

From the former chef at Perennial, Tav's Med-Latin menu counts to-share plates of squash- & apple-kicked suckling pig confit w/ caramel sherry sauce, hazelnut romesco-sauced pork & Wagyu meatballs, and corn pudding topped w/ poblanos, corn ragout & rock shrimp, though he himself prefers things topped with raaaaaaaaaaaaspberry. Backing up such hearty options is a crudo bar slinging pickled oysters w/ mango-papaya-jalapeno relish & poached shrimp, and a ceviche of cilantro-kissed sea bass, which says its going to kick his ass, but then secretly meets Cilantro in a rest stop to get even freakier. Bev-wise, the 48-tap bar isn't just pouring crafts, of which there're plenty, but also wine, housemade vermouth, and kegged cocktails, which, unlike currently trendy barrel-aged 'tails, are able to incorporate fresh ingredients like fruit juice, making this another way to feel like a Mac while getting punched out.