CENTRAL LAKEVIEW — From lobster guacamole to duck confit arepas, a new Mexican-inspired restaurant has everything you never knew you wanted.
Barcocina, 2901 N. Sheffield Ave., will have its grand opening Thursday after a soft opening last week. The restaurant offers small, shareable dishes and aims for a more social dining experience, said managing partner Rick Douglas.
"If you want a great, chef-driven restaurant that's not pretentious at all, with a great, inviting atmosphere, I think really, for Lakeview, it's something new and exciting, and we hope to be around for a long time," Douglas said.
The menu includes salsas and snacks, which are typically $6-9, with a $14 lobster guacamole made with cinnamon chile oil, yellow pepper and tarragon. Small plates and tacos, including lamb French dip tacos and tuna tartare taquitos (both $12), are offered along with entrees like pork belly rebocado ($20).
"We use [traditional] Mexican food as a vessel to get things to the table. So we have a taco shell, and then we use fun ingredients to make it a little more modern," Douglas said.
Desserts and craft alcoholic beverages are also offered, with a brunch menu in the works.
The Lakeview location is based off the Barcocina in Baltimore, which is owned by a different subset of the same restaurant group that owns Ladder 15 in Philadelphia and Bond Street Social, also in Baltimore.
The Chicago Barcocina carries some of the Baltimore dishes, but chef Matt Williams — who previously worked for the Hogsalt restaurant group — has created new entrees and unique appetizers for the new restaurant.
Plans for the former Sopranos location began over a year ago, when developers told neighbors it would cost $1 million to renovate. Now, the airy, open restaurant features reclaimed wood decor, high ceilings, butcher-block tables and white tile.
"We have a wood-truss ceiling, which you don't really find in Chicago anymore, and it's just gorgeous. It could be really busy in the restaurant, but you never feel claustrophobic," Douglas said.
Douglas was thrilled Barcocina (which means "bar kitchen" in Spanish) would be ready in time for summer, he said.
"It's a very summery concept, but at the same time, we'll have a lot of fireplaces to make it cozy for the winter. But the summers in Chicago, I feel like, are the best in the world," said Douglas, an Arlington Heights native.
Douglas said Barcocina also would be an ideal location for private parties and small events, with "lots of space to accommodate" groups. As Barcocina takes flight this summer, Douglas said the developers would like to expand to more restaurants in the future.
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