Italian food has Eataly, French fare has Beaubourg and as of this week, Latin cooking has Latinicity, a new food hall-meets-market in Chicago from Mexican-born mega chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval—with a helping hand from Iron Chef Jose Garces.
Stalls aren't organized by country à la Epcot, but rather by food type—think ensaladas (salads), sopas (soups), tortas (sandwiches)—all drawing from various Latin cuisines for inspiration. Some of the most enticing options are the street foods of Central and South America, from arroz aeropuerto (aka "airport rice," a noodle-and-fried rice dish) at the Chaufa Wok station to carne asada tacos at Machefé Taqueria.
The cultural crisscross of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine—a result of an influx of Japanese immigrants to Peru in the late 19th century—makes an appearance at the Mariscos stall with Nikkei-style mussels and at the Sushi & Ceviche Bar with shrimp and octopus dressed with leche de tigre, a citrus-based marinade that translates to "tiger's milk." At the grill stall, there's chipotle-citrus chicken and Colombian longaniza alongside smoked corn empanadas and sticky sweet plantains.
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Though the project may be dubbed the Latin Eataly, it's smaller but with more open seating—which you'll appreciate if you've ever battled the crowd for a seat with your cappuccino at Eataly. And while Eataly has its wine counter and brewery, Latinicity has a big, beautiful bar where bartenders pour beer and wine by the glass and shake up cocktails made with pisco, cachaça, mezcal, tequila and rum. (Pro tip: Skirt wine markup by buying a bottle at retail price from the market and bringing it to the bar, where the staff will uncork it for you.)
It's easy to be distracted by the chorizo-laced burger at the Mexican-inspired Burguesa counter, but don't overlook the market nook just to the left of the entrance; it's small but well stocked with pantry staples from Latin countries. Menu cards are in the works to inspire at-home cooking adventures, but until then, we asked the team for their ideas (plus a few of our own) on what to buy and how to use it.
Arroyabe Bonito del Norte Tuna: Mix this high-quality tuna with chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and salt, and serve it chilled with a salad or a slice of thick bread.
Jarritos mandarin soda: Reduce this classic Mexican soda into a syrupy sauce for fried plantains.
Richard Sandoval's cocoa ancho mix: Stir this into hot coffee for a twisted mocha.
Matiz Gallego Chestnuts: Brown the chestnuts and serve them as a side to roasted pork.
Conaprole dulce de leche: Drizzle over ice cream or sliced fruit, or just eat it with a spoon (we don't judge).
Matiz Catalan romesco sauce: Spoon this classic Spanish sauce over grilled fish, spread it onto toast or serve it as dip for crudités.
Richard Sandoval's chipotle citrus finishing salt: Rub the salt onto a whole chicken before roasting for a zippy finish.
Matiz Vasco piparras: Pair this Basque Country pepper with seafood, such as steamed clams or smoked fish, for a tangy pickled punch.
Fermin Iberico pork loin or chorizo: Slice and devour—these delicacies are best savored solo.
Latinicity is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
108 N. State St., third floor, 312-795-4444
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