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Bar Marta (CLOSED)

  • Restaurants
  • Humboldt Park
  • price 2 of 4
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A group of Hogsalt vets brings solid drinks and food to Humboldt Park

I can’t recall the last time a salad was the most memorable thing from a night at a bar, but Bar Marta isn’t your standard bar. Piled high with anchovy dressing–slicked lettuce, shaved Parmesan and a shower of bonito flakes, it’s one of the best Caesars I’ve had, an umami-laden dish that was on every table in the restaurant. And it shouldn’t be a surprise, given the pedigree at Bar Marta. Owner Austin Baker, an alum of Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt empire, assembled a crack team of former Hogsalt employees—chefs Jeff Pikus (Hogsalt), Ben Ruiz (High Five Ramen) and Scottie Harrel (Maude's Liquor Bar), plus Christina Carrera (Au Cheval) running the bar program.

Echoes of Sodikoff restaurants appear in the dark, cozy space and small plates, but Bar Marta is more relaxed, a good thing in restaurants these days, and has its own point of view. The drink list is accomplished, but Carrera makes it approachable for a bar in a neighborhood—the menu of $10 cocktails includes the bright, Scotch-fortified Absinthe Minded, while the Japanese cocktail, an elegant cognac-orgeat concoction, is a classic too rarely seen. The list features hard-to-find orange wines (basically white wines made like reds), but also two wines for $5 a glass.

The food menu is mostly small plates and a few entrees, like a dish of spicy pickles and olives to nibble alongside a drink; a beautifully roasted chicken with slices of fried bread; pillowy cheese gnocchi and a tropical caramel-topped banana-rum cake. Some missteps appear: cacio e pepe is richly flavored, but the sauce is gloppy; the cobbler is a one-note glass of sherry, and disinterested service keeps the evening moving slowly. But I'm confident the talented team will pull all the pieces together soon—and in the meantime, there's already a lot to like about Bar Marta. 

Vitals

Atmosphere: Dark and snug, Bar Marta feels like the ideal place to ride out the cold winter. 

What to eat: Caesar salad, roasted chicken, banana-rum cake.

What to drink: Absinthe Minded, Japanese cocktail.

Where to sit: The long bar is best for when you’re just drinking, so if you’re planning to eat, sit at one of the two- or four-top tables. 

Amy Cavanaugh
Written by
Amy Cavanaugh

Details

Address:
2700 W Chicago Ave
Chicago
60622
Transport:
Bus: 52, 65, 66.
Opening hours:
Tue-Wed 5:30-11:30pm, Thu-Sat 5:30pm-12:30am
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