Chicago’s new Jaleo restaurant “brings alive the spirit and flavors of modern-day Spain” with table-side paella and a full tapas bar.
Chicago’s credibility as a culinary heavyweight never ceases to expand and evolve. In addition to an exciting futuristic hot pot restaurant opening in South Loop this summer and a new burger joint from British multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsey, Chicago this month welcomed the opening of Jaleo – a restaurant bringing authentic Spanish tapas to River North.
Opened on Thursday, July 14th at 500 North Clark Street in River North, the restaurant is managed by world-renowned Spanish-American chef, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, José Andrés and his company, ThinkFoodGroup.
The restaurant channels the charm of Spain and offers mouth-watering dishes from various Spanish regions all within a festive, casual atmosphere. As well as a full tapas bar diners will find table-side paellas in four varieties, sangria pitchers, Spanish wines, and exclusive Chicago-only options such as the Arroz rabo de toro – a dish made with Meloso-style rice and braised oxtail.
There are also be numerous José Andrés signatures including Endivias con queso de cabra y naranjas (endives with goat cheese, oranges, almonds, and roasted garlic dressing); Gambas a la Zahara, head-on shrimp with garlic and olive oil; and the Quesada Asturiana dessert, a Basque-style “burnt” cheesecake.
Two tasting menus— the “Jaleo Experience” and “José’s Way”— offer diners a culinary journey through Spain with a variety of both contemporary and traditional tapas.
The first Jaleo opened in Washington D.C. in 1993 and Chicago’s own Jaleo is the fifth location worldwide. Directly below the River North location, José Andrés will soon open his first-ever speakeasy concept – a bespoke cocktail experience to be called ‘Pigtail’.
“Jaleo is the very first restaurant we opened, and I love being able to share the flavors and spirit of Spain by bringing this special place to new destinations,” said Andrés. “In Spanish, Jaleo means revelry—a lively celebration—and with the bustling excitement of River North, I cannot think of a better neighborhood to be opening in! My team and I are excited to officially open and join the incredible and diverse food scene in the city.”
Having grown up in Asturias, a region of Spain internationally recognized for its incredible gastronomy scene, José Andrés enrolled in culinary school in Barcelona as a teen before being assigned to cook for an admiral whilst completing his Spanish military service.
He then moved to America in 1990 at the age of 21 and went on to form World Central Kitchen 20 years later – a non-profit that “provides smart solutions to end hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies.”
Soon after Andrés was twice named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2012 and 2018 before he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his work for World Central Kitchen. He’s received numerous awards and distinctions as well as two Michelin stars.
Justin DePhillips, a ThinkFoodGroup veteran who has moved up to Chicago from Jaleo Disney Springs, will be at the helm of Chicago’s Jaleo as head chef.
Jaleo is open for dinner five nights a week, from 4 pm – 10 pm Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday, and until 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays.