1757 N. Kimball, Chicago, IL, 60647 , Humboldt Park
Price: $$$$$

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Ørkenoy - Chicago

Ørkenoy in Humboldt Park is part of a new generation of Chicago restaurants: recently opened in the Kimball Arts Center, this artist-influenced casual operation opened in mid-September, 2020, with a carryout window and a dining area, the better to serve us all during the pandemic.

Specializing in in beer, cocktails, and smørrebrød (fancy sandwiches), Ørkenoy has developed a creative concept and a colorful space that serves outstanding food and drink in a casual, hip atmosphere.

Smørrebrød tops the menu at Ørkenoy with beautifully constructed sandwiches, but calling them “sandwiches,” though technically correct, hardly does justice to the creations that come out of this kitchen.

Chicken Salad Sandwich is one of the simplest mainstays of a casual menu, but at Ørkenoy it’s way more than mayo and chicken on bread; here the fowl is dressed up in charred scallion, poblano chilies, fried chicken skin (fantastic), garam masala pickles and hot sauce on house rye. It might be the most delicious, and fascinating, chicken salad sandwich you’ve ever had.

In the past, every restaurant had to have a hamburger on the menu; in 2020, every restaurant is obligated to serve salmon…but at Ørkenoy, they do it up with a difference. Ørkenoy’s salmon is cured in hibiscus and served with zucchini, tomatillo relish, dill crema and cous cous.

Bar snacks include Anchovy Popcorn and Citrus Sichuan Peanuts. You get the idea: the bar at Ørkenoy is a special place.

Of course, the beers are brewed in house and, again with the creative streak, they’re named after animals “we grew up with.” So, you have, for instance, the Belle Aldine, named for a canine companion, “the friendliest and most noble inhabitant of the park,” which is a wheat beer perked up with herbs and gooseberries. Felines get equal time with the kitty-inspired Pierre Boon, made in the farmhouse style with landrace grains and kveik yeasts.

Cocktails include the creative In the Hall of the Mountain King (rye, mezcal, chili, aperitivo, peach and sage) and The Dance of Life (Champagne, absinthe, cocalero – the sacred spirit of the Andes – orange, lime and ginger). There are also non-alcoholic options like Mexican Coke and amaro sodas.

To keep you amused, there are events at Ørkenoy like Healing Jodonas: Poetic Healing Circle and a Dreamers Art Show, supported by the Humboldt Park Solidarity Network. We told you Ørkenoy is in an art center, right?