LAKEVIEW — Some new flavors are coming to the Southport Corridor with two restaurants from 4-Star Restaurant Group.
Expanding its footprint in Lakeview, 4-Star will open French-Italian eatery Ella Elli and a still-unnamed Mexican restaurant — both of which will join Crosby's Kitchen and Frasca in Lakeview over the next year.
Co-owner Doug Dunlay laid out the plans Monday night during the West Lake View Neighbors meeting, which moved to Butcher's Tap, 3553 N. Southport Ave., from the now-closed Mystic Celt.
The priority will be the "Mex-Tex" restaurant replacing Justin's bar at 3358 N. Southport Ave., which closed in January after 31 years in Southport. The 4-Star group signed a 10-year lease on the storefront with two five-year optional extensions and will be filing renovation permits soon, Dunlay said.
Justin's closed in January after 31 years at 3358 N. Southport Ave. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
The backyard beer garden will remain in the new restaurant, although it will be smaller, with a newly expanded kitchen shrinking the outdoor space. New windows and an 18-foot-long glass-encased expansion along Roscoe Street are the main exterior changes, with the limestone facade staying in tact.
The owners have narrowed down three possible names for the "authentically great" Mexican restaurant and plan to announce it in the next couple of weeks, Dunlay said.
The Mexican restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner weekdays, closing at 10 p.m. each night, adding a brunch service on weekends, when it will be open until 11 p.m.
The restaurant will have Mexican beers on tap, a wine list "highlighting artisanal domestic producers" and a cocktail list with margaritas and an "unparalleled" tequila selection, according to the executive summary shared at Monday's meeting.
Tortillas will be made fresh daily, and a wood-burning grill will get big play with steak, seafood and pork dishes. A sample menu includes dishes like skirt steak fajitas ($24), camarones brochetas (bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with jack cheese and jalapeño, also $24) and pork belly tacos ($13).
Brunch dishes will include Mexican dishes like chilaquiles alongside brunch staples like benedicts and pancakes. Street food-style dishes like fish tacos, ceviche and tableside guacamole will be on a separate bar menu to enhance the outdoor bar's "fun, festive and lively" atmosphere.
With eight neighborhood restaurants, 4-Star owners "fully understand the responsibility and privilege that comes with operating a business in a tight community," they wrote. Its portfolio includes Dunlays on Clark and Dunlays on the Square, Smoke Daddy, DOC Wine Bar, Remington's and The Windsor.
Jay Keller and Jean Dufresne of Space Architects will collaborate on the remodel. Past projects include Flacos Tacos, Half Acre Brewery, Blackwood and Logan Theatre.
Dunlay also dished out some details on Ella Elli, which 4-Star will open behind Crosby's Kitchen at 1353 W. Cornelia Ave.
The owners of Crosby's Kitchen plan to expand next door with Ella Elli. The storefront at 1353 W. Cornelia Ave. has been vacant since Wrigleyville Dental moved south to Ashland Avenue. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Initially called Three Sisters, the upscale Italian restaurant is "geared toward more of an adult evening out," co-owner Derek Rettel said in September. 4-Star bought the building from the dentist's office that relocated to Ashland Avenue.
While most of 4-Star's restaurants are family oriented and kid friendly, Ella Elli won't have a children's menu, Dunlay said. The restaurant will seat up to 70 and focus on southern France and Italian cuisine with fish, pasta and "a huge emphasis on vegetables."
Ella Elli will not be open for lunch and is slated to open in spring 2017.
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