Chicago just got a great new food destination in Latinicity Food Hall & Lounge. This new Pan-Latin spot features 12 separate food stations, a tapas restaurant, beautiful bar, coffee bar and retail market, representing street food from several Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal.
Latinicity is located inside Block 37, a city mall with several clothing stores and the fabulous Magnolia Bakery. The Lake ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line will take you there. You can also exit at the Adams/Wabash or Randolph/Wabash ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Orange, Brown and Green Lines.
Chefs Richard Sandoval (world-reknown) and Jose Garces (Mercat a la Planxa) have created a very cool Latin food experience in the form of a market we can stroll through, while tasting bites of different street foods in the form of tortas (sandwiches), cocas (flatbreads), burguesas (burgers), sushi, stir frys, tacos and more. I love this place!
I stopped by last Sunday on my way to Sephora to pick up some cosmetics. I arrived at 11am just as the market was opening. I strolled right in without any crowds and hit the first stall for this wild mushroom flatbread with caramelized onions, truffle oil and Manchego cheese. It was super fresh, smelled insanely intoxicating and tasted even better. It tasted…like I need more 🙂
Next up, I checked out the grill. Since I was trying to keep to a vegetarian diet that day, I ordered these carmalized plantains sauteed in a honey-chipotle butter. Oh, my gosh! This is a side you do NOT want to overlook on your visit here. The plantains were perfectly cooked. The sweet and slightly smoky chipotle sauce created a truly addictive experience which tested my will power. Yet, I managed to control myself and take half of this portion home for the next day 🙂
At the mariscos (seafood) station, I tried these crispy chicharron de camarones (crispy shrimp). They were made to order with a garlic sauce and creole salsa. This dish was great and all of the other seafood options that I eyeballed looked super fresh. I will be back here, too 🙂
I enjoyed all of my food in the very bright and airy food hall near the back of the market. The windows overlook a piece of Chicago’s bustling Loop. There are tables, high tops and stools which line the windows. So, choose a spot which meets your dining comfort, settle in and commence the people watching, while you enjoy a taste of Latin America, Spain and Portugal without clearing Customs 🙂
The stir fry station, Chaufa Wok, is where you can choose your own ingredients and build a delicious meal. It looked really beautiful. I noticed many people with yummy plates and bowls in the lounge hall. So, I will be hitting this station very soon as well.
There is a really huge U-shaped bar where you can find typical Latin cocktails and a lovely wine list representative of several Latin countries, Spain and Portugal. It is a nice alternative to hanging out at a typical Chicago bar.
The retail shop is located at the front of the hall. Here you can find imported wines, pastas, chocolates, dried goods and more.
Latinicity had a really successful opening. The anticipation built so much that they had to close for 24 hours the first weekend, due to the number of people that visited it! They had to re-stock and re-fuel 🙂 That’s awesome! Welcome to Chicago!
Another thing you should know is that Latinicity can break your wallet, if you are not careful. Upon entering, you will receive a gold card which you present at each food station, the restaurant, bar and the retail stall. The servers will add your purchases to the card, as you work your way through the hall. When you are ready to leave Latinicity, you must present your gold card to the cashier at the same door where you entered. They will print out your spending total for the day. This is when you settle your total bill. If you would like to keep track of your spending as you go, just ask the vendors to print out individual receipts as you order, so you can see how much you’ve spent.
This place is a total experience. Enjoy it. I know I will be back often, so I can work my way through all the menus in a leisurely fashion. I am nothing if not thorough 🙂
Latinicity is located on the 3rd floor of Block 37 at 108 N. State Street. It is open for lunch through dinner 7 days a week. Click here for more information.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red, Brown, Green and Orange Lines to Latinicity. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!