Chicago warms up to vegetables at Heisler Hospitality’s Randolph Street restaurant.
Chicago is a meat and potatoes city. We love our burgers and steakhouses deeply and unabashedly. So when we found out that Heisler Hospitality (Pub Royale, Queen Mary Tavern, Sportsman’s Club and others) was opening a vegetable-focused concept on Randolph Street, we were curious how Chicago would react. As it turns out, this meat-loving city has a thing for veggies, keeping Bad Hunter regularly packed most nights of the week.
We’re also going to tell you something you won’t hear often—skip the meat. Chef Dan Snowden (Nico Osteria) makes veggies the main course here, and it totally works. Start with the beet tartare, presented ruby-red and tender (just like its beef counterpart) alongside house-made flaxseed chips. Maitake mushrooms are dressed up with parsnips, smoked pecans, parmesan shavings and lavender. The end result is so savory and hearty that you won’t miss your usual steak. But you can’t visit without ordering the butter dumplings (admittedly, we’re suckers for anything with the word “butter” in its name). The flavors packed inside these perfectly wrapped dumplings change up seasonally (right now, they’re stuffed with cucumber kimchi, charred fava beans and seaweed), but we wouldn’t hesitate to order this dish again and again.
Bad Hunter’s interior boasts a lush, trendy vibe to match the menu. With sun-drenched windows, white-washed walls and verdant greenery, the restaurant feels like a cozy greenhouse. The space itself is larger than expected for West Loop, as the rock-lined bar and kitchen only take up a small portion of the restaurant. But don’t let that fool you—reservations are key here, and walk-ins should expect to wait for a table.
If that happens, we recommend heading straight to the bar, where Josh Fossitt (Sportsman’s Club, NoMad in New York) is heading up the cocktail program with plenty of low-ABV options to encourage guests to keep sipping all night. Our favorites were the spicy carrot cooler with carrot juice, Jamaican jerk bitters, pineapple and tequila and the trendy mermaid water with dry vermouth, gin and rhubarb. The restaurant is also open for lunch, giving us more time to belly up to the bar and feed our soft spot for veggies.
Atmosphere: Green, lush and refreshing. Bad Hunter is open and airy with touches of trendy décor everywhere—from succulents and greenery on the back bar to the river rock-adorned bar.
What to eat: Our absolute musts on any given night are the butter dumplings and maitake mushrooms. Other highlights include tempura-fried lemons and anything with ‘shrooms.
What to drink: A refreshing and slightly spicy carrot cooler is delicious, but we also loved the Black Andalusian Turf with vermouth, sherry, añejo and coffee liqueur to end the night.
Where to sit: There really isn’t a bad seat in the house, but if you’re looking for drinks, head straight to the bar.
|Venue name:||Bad Hunter||Contact:|
802 W Randolph St
|Opening hours:||Mon–Fri 11am–11pm, Sat–Sun 5–11pm|
|Transport:||El: Green & Pink line to Morgan. Bus: 8.|
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