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Sweet of the Week: Nutella Baklava at Travelle

Nutella: Baklava at Travelle: Let’s get one thing straight. I would eat Nutella smeared on literally anything and be happy about it. The nefarious chocolate-hazelnut spread usurps any and all pretenses on its way to gustatory, gluttonous glory. There’s a reason it’s cited as one of the mightiest guilty pleasures, or why Eataly reserves an entire dessert […]

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Jul 27, 2014 06:54 PM
Brunch Bites: FIG & OLIVE and MAX’s Wine Dive

FIG & OLIVE: Thanks to FIG & OLIVE’s illustrious new brunch menu, diners can get a feel for the Riviera Coast in the Gold Coast. Weekend brunch at this gorgeous new downtown destination pays homage to the Riviera and Mediterranean coastal regions with a collection of wholesome, seasonal, and fresh dishes. The menu is pretty […]

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Jul 27, 2014 05:19 AM
Weekend Planner: Cocktail Class, Juice-Bao Tasting, Hemingway Cake, and Formento’s Sunday Supper

Cocktail Class: Cocktail Class: Juice and Bao Partnership Just when you thought you couldn’t love Wow Bao anymore, they team up with Chicago’s first cold-pressed juicery for a wholesome new partnership. Harvest Juicery beverages are now available at most Wow Bao locations, in flavors featuring pear-pineapple-ginger-thyme and watermelon-cayenne-basil. Both the perfect supplements to an onslaught of doughy decadence. To […]

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Jul 26, 2014 04:09 AM
Mercadito Meets Deli With Mercadito Counter Restaurant

Mercadito Hospitality loves to keep people guessing. The avante garde restaurant group does a masterful job of reinventing itself with each new concept, from the taco-centric Mercadito to the tapas-based Tavernita, and eclectic offerings at Little Market Brasserie. Mercadito Hospitality is basically the Madonna of restaurant groups, re-emerging in a bold new way with each opening. Now with their newest endeavor due later this fall, the restaurant group offers its most casual dining destination to date. Mercadito Counter is also their most surprising iteration, a Mexican deli concept inspired by the Sandoval brothers' street food memories in Acapulco and corner store deli counters of yore.

Mexican hot dogs
(Mexican hot dogs, the one instance where ketchup isn't decried as heresy)

When Mercadito's casual sister spot opens this fall at 738 N. Clark St., it will feature a mix of Mercadito favorites and a slew of deli-inspired innovations, all in a fast-casual format unique to the Mercadito Hospitality formula of dining destinations in Chicago. Guests can get their fill of Mercadito's cultishly adored tacos, as well as nachos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. But it's the American deli-style fixtures that really stand out, as this is where Mercadito Counter exhibits its creativity. A deli menu offers to-go selections of guacamoles, salsas, Mexican cheeses, meats, tortillas, and prepared foods, while the food menu features the Mercadito burger topped with jalapeño butter and Manchego cheese, chipotle onion rings, gordita sliders, and a variety of hot dogs, including the bacon-wrapped Mexican dog laden with pico de gallo, jalapeño relish, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and crispy bacon, and the deep-fried Mole-Q dog ensconced in mole barbecue sauce, green tomato-jalapeño slaw, a trio of mustards, and crispy onion strings. Mercadito Counter will also serve breakfast all day, with options such as huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and chilaquiles.

Agua fresca
(Quench your agua fresca cravings at Mercadito Counter this fall)

For the Sandoval brothers, Mercadito Counter represents the merging of two distinct styles of comfort food, both with casual streetside origins. Considering Chicago's Mexican population, the idea for a place that melded the two genres was the perfect segue into the casual dining sphere.

NYC restaurant known for killer tacos and a casual, yet upscale setting moves into the old Sugar/La Pomme Rouge space. This is the third outpost, but it takes the trend farther by offering an expansive dining room and lower-level cocktail lounge called Double A.

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Chef Ryan Poli helms the second project from the team from Mercadito, featuring a diverse mix of European-inspired dishes with Mediterranean and Latin flavors designed for sharing and a raw bar from Supreme Lobster. There's also a stand-up San Sebastian-style pintxo bar called Barcito.

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The team behind Mercadito and Tavernita have taken over the first-floor restaurant space to create this globally influenced restaurant that plans to serve American, French and European fare. Tavernita chef/partner Ryan Poli will oversee the menu, and New York's The Tippling Bros. will curate the cocktail menu. There will be a 125-seat sidewalk cafe as well. There is no opening date yet.

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The Mercadito team (Little Market Brasserie, Mercadito, Tavernita) makes its entry into the fast-casual dining scene with a Mexican deli concept in River North. Mercadito Counter, set to open fall 2013, pays homage to the deli counters of local corner stores in chef/partner Patricio Sandoval's native Acapulco.

Dish highlights include the Mercadito Burger, a ribeye and short rib burger with a jalapeño butter, Manchego cheese, and grilled scallions; The Mexican Dog, a bacon-wrapped beef sausage with pico de gallo, jalapeño relish, mayo, mustard, ketchup and crispy bacon; as well as Chicken a las Brasas, Mexican-style rotisserie chickens in a choice of adobo (red), Peruvian-style (white) or epazote marinade (green) served with tortillas, two sides and one salsa of choice.

There is also breakfast all day.

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