WICKER PARK — Nine Wicker Park and Bucktown restaurants including Cumin, Mott St. and Mana Food bar were among 59 Chicago restaurants included in the prestigious Big Gourmand 2014 Guide, it was announced Thursday.
"We are super grateful to receive the honor. The restaurant exists because of our entire staff and it's an honor to everyone," said Nate Chung, one of four owners of Mott St., an Asian-influenced eatery that opened in June at 1401 N. Ashland Ave.
The 2014 Bib Gourmand list rounds up modestly priced restaurants that deliver a high-quality dining experience. Taglined "good cuisine at a reasonable price," the designation recognizes restaurants that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less, excluding tax and gratuity.
When asked what his personal favorite thing on the menu is, Chung said he craves different things "depending on weather and mood." On Thursday he was enjoying a "comforting" lamb belly rib by Chef Edward Kim.
Currently being tested before joining the Mott St. menu, the lamb belly rib is prepared with an in-house spicy rub and served with chickpeas and dill pickles. It costs $16.
At Mana Food Bar Thursday, manager Mikhail Schilkey called inclusion in the Michelin Bib Gourmand list "the highest honor we can receive with the type of food we do, for our casual style."
Unlike many vegetarian restaurants, Mana doesn't "seek to do the meat replacement" and instead offers globally inspired vegetarian fare with "not one area or ethnicity you can nail down," Schilkey said.
At Mana, sliders made of mushroom and brown rice, at $3.50 each, are one of the most popular menu items, Schilkey said.
While the average tab varies, Schilkey, whose worked at the Division Street restaurant for two years, said a couple of people can have dinner for two for around $50 if they share a few dishes and have a drink, such as a sake-based cocktail.
The 2014 Wicker Park and Bucktown honorees are listed below:
Antique Taco, 1380 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Belly Shack, 1912 N. Western Ave.
Cumin, 1414 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Mana Food Bar, 1742 W. Division St.
Mott St., 1401 N. Ashland Ave.
Owen & Engine, 2700 N. Western Ave.
Ada St., 1664 N. Ada St.
Green Zebra, 1460 W. Chicago Ave.
West Town Tavern at 1329 W. Chicago Ave. closed in July, but was included in the list.