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Rick Bayless details his upcoming West Loop brewery and taqueria

Photograph: Paul Elledge
Rick Bayless

We all knew it was happening. We just didn’t know when. Finally, after many murmurs but nothing definitive, the announcement of chef Rick Bayless’s new Randolph Street projects has been made. And we can expect to experience them ourselves within the next two months.

Cruz Blanca Cerveceria, Bayless's forthcoming brewery, is inspired by Emil Dercher, a French native who had an 1869 brewery in Mexico City that went by the same name. The Chicago spot—part tasting room, part taquería—will serve a Biere de Garde called La Guardia (which you can also get now at Frontera and XOCO), also modeled after Dercher's beer.

But wait—there's more. Next door you’ll find Bayless’s Leña Brava, which will focus on Baja California fare. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the northern part of Baja California over the last decade,” Bayless said in a press release. “There’s incredible seafood, and chefs who have risen up to join the ranks of the world’s best. And what ties all of them together is the grill, the hearth, the wood-fired oven. The primal, artless quality of what they’re feeding people.” We can't wait. 

Leña Brava will also have a bar dedicated to Oaxaca's mescal, arriving in Chicago at a time when mescal and agave spirits-focused bars seemed to be popping up everywhere, with Mezcaleria Las Flores opening in the Johnny's Grill space earlier this month and La Mez Agave Lounge set to open in the Mercadito basement today. 


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