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Jaleo in River North
Photograph: Courtesy Jaleo

Celebrity chef José Andrés is opening five Chicago restaurants and bars this year

His Chicago expansion begins in July with the opening of contemporary Spanish restaurant Jaleo.

Zach Long
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Zach Long

First announced all the way back in 2019, celebrity chef José Andrés will debut his first Chicago restaurant when contemporary Spanish concept Jaleo opens its doors in River North (at 500 N Clark St) this July—but that's only the beginning of Andrés's plans for our city. Today, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee—who has provided meals to those affected by disasters via his World Central Kitchen organization—announced that he'll be opening a total of five concepts in Chicago by the end of 2021, including a new speakeasy, a riverfront café and the latest Bazaar Meat location.

While the Jaleo menu hasn't been revealed, we expect that the offerings at the Chicago outpost will be similar to existing locations in Washington D.C., Las Vegas and Orlando, where you'll find tapas, paellas and frituras served alongside sangrias, sherries and Spanish wines. Later this summer, Andrés's brand new (and still-to-be-named) speakeasy concept will open directly under Jaleo's River North digs, serving "bespoke cocktails" in the subterranean space.

Andrés's next salvo of Chicago concepts are set to open in late 2021 inside the Bank of America Tower (110 North Wacker), a relatively new building along the Chicago River that began welcoming tenants last fall. The trio of restaurants and bars includes the meat- and seafood-focused Bazzaar Meat (which already boasts locations in Las Vegas and South Beach), a new cocktail destination called Bar Mar that will draw inspiration from Andrés's Barmini concept in Washington D.C., and Café By The River, which will bring a "classic American coffee shop and gathering space" to the lower level of the building. All three of these concepts are being launched in partnership with Chicago-based Gibsons Restaurant Group, best known for running the Gibsons Steakhouse and Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House chains.

With Gordon Ramsay opening his first Chicago restaurant (a ritzy burger joint housed in the former Wahlburgers space) in River North sometime in late 2021 or early 2022, it's clear that celebrity chefs have set their sights on Chicago's amazing dining scene. Competing with Chicago's best restaurants won't be an easy task, but we look forward to tasting what Andrés and Ramsay have in store.

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