WRIGLEYVILLE — Clark Street bar-goers soon will be able to eat gravy and cheese curd-laden fries straight from the source — Canada.
Canadian chain The Big Cheese Poutinerie is opening its first U.S. location at 3401 N. Clark St., the former El Jardin space near Roscoe Street, serving poutine with 50 toppings.
Poutine has grown in popularity in Chicago in recent years, but the starchy, saucy treat is ubiquitous in parts of Canada as a late-night fast food option.
Co-owner and Canadian Travis Burke opened the first Big Cheese in Calgary in 2010 after seeing how popular poutine had become in Quebec City, Burke said. Calgary needed one, he said, and now Chicago does, too.
Burke will be running the Wrigleyville location with Michael Stadnicki, who owns the Al's Beef franchise at 601 W. Adams St.
"We're an authentic Canadian poutinerie," Burke said.
Already, the Big Cheese has aimed to earn its stripes in Chicago's poutine scene. At last weekend's second annual Poutine Fest, it won second place with a pierogi poutine, fries topped with pierogis, caramelized onion, cheese curds, double-smoked bacon, gravy and a sour scream drizzle.
The most popular poutine at Big Cheese's two Canadian locations has been The Notorious P.I.G., with chipotle pulled pork, double-smoked bacon and Italian sausage, Burke said.
Big Cheese will be open until 4 a.m. three days a week and until 9 or 10 p.m. on weekdays.
The owners said they plan to open in the next month.