Greater than a yr has handed since Mundano, the formidable Latin American-influenced restaurant from ex-Quiote chef Ross Henke and restaurateur Moe Abu-Taleb, first opened in Lincoln Park. Launched simply three weeks earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic pressured the state to shut on-premise eating, the restaurant struggled to transition towards takeout and patio eating and Abu-Taleb formally closed the restaurant in September after seven months.
Now, simply as Chicago marks a yr of pandemic upheaval, Mundano’s former house is being readied for one more debut: a brand new location for Mesa Urbana, a recent Mexican restaurant Abu-Taleb opened 5 years in the past in suburban Glenview. It’s slated to open in late March with a brand new chef, Ruben Beltran, an trade veteran who beforehand labored below celeb chef Rick Bayless at Topolobampo and Frontera Grill in River North.
Considered one of 2020’s most anticipated openings, Mundano featured distinctive fusions like Chinese language dan dan noodles with lamb chorizo. Its management crew emphasised a dedication to equitable office practices and was largely staffed by ladies. The restaurant had potential to usher in a hipper, more sophisticated era of dining in Lincoln Park. However as within the case of so a lot of final yr’s best-laid plans, the influence of COVID-19 was crushing.
“Mundano didn’t even get an opportunity,” Abu-Taleb says. “The place was excellent. However given the financial system and every little thing we’re working with, we felt like we must always persist with the Mesa Urbana model — simply to be protected.”
It’s been a attempting yr for the restaurant proprietor, who had high hopes for the brand new institution. He believes Lincoln Park residents are prepared for artistic and boundary-pushing eating, however the pandemic has left him feeling obligated to err on the aspect of warning and mitigate threat as greatest he can. Mundano didn’t have time to build up a group of regulars however Mesa Urbana already has a loyal following, he says. He’s additionally acutely aware of each worth level and ease for customers: the Mexican restaurant’s menu is less expensive for diners and higher suited to takeout however nonetheless maintains an upscale strategy. Diners will discover a vary of fusion dishes that vary from rock shrimp risotto (roasted greens, coconut yellow curry) to cordero al carbon (child rack of lamb, potato puree, chimichurri).
Regardless of the various challenges he’s encountered alongside the best way, Abu-Taleb isn’t able to say goodbye to Mundano eternally: ought to the pandemic subside and normalcy return to the hospitality trade, he’s open to the thought of reopening the restaurant in late 2021.
“If issues go effectively and the financials are bettering, we need to convey that again,” he says. “We’re fancy restaurant individuals — that’s all we all know, all we do.”
Keep tuned for information of Mesa Urbana’s opening date in Lincoln Park.
Mesa Urbana, 1935 N. Lincoln Park West, Scheduled to open in March.