Tuco & Blondie, the 10th concept by 4 Star Restaurant Group (Crosby’s Kitchen, Remington’s, The Windsor), will open its doors in Lakeview at the Southport Corridor in Chicago on September 26. With culinary operations led by Corporate Executive Chef Todd Stein and branding and design development by Chicago-based Grip (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster), Chicago’s newest cantina concept will offer delicious Mexican-American cuisine and an extensive cocktail menu for lunch, dinner, and brunch.
“Similar to all of the 4 Star concepts, we are excited to offer an experience for everybody at Tuco & Blondie,” says 4 Star Restaurant Group co-founder and partner Josh Rutherford. “Groups of friends will enjoy brunch on our lively outdoor patio while we encourage families to bring the kids along for our complimentary self-serve ice cream machine.”
Drawing inspiration from Clint Eastwood’s landmark film, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” the 250-seat Tuco & Blondie aspires to be an original classic. With 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, guests may walk up to the indoor patio for fajitas with a view, sip a margarita by the brick fireplace on the back patio or simply enjoy a family meal inside. With an array of dishes created by Chef Stein, Tuco & Blondie will offer a multi-faceted, fun atmosphere where families or groups of friends can linger and laugh over drinks.
Chef Stein created a menu of Mexican-American favorites featuring starters, salads, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, entrée plates, sides, and desserts. Guests may choose a starter such as the Chile con Queso “Bob Armstrong,” with creamy melted cheese, ground beef, guacamole and sour cream ($9) or the Crab Tostada with a crispy corn tortilla, jump lump crab, avocado and pickled fresno chile ($12). Tuco’s Famous Fajitas (options include chicken, steak, shrimp and more) come out sizzling hot and are served with rice and beans, guacamole, roasted onions, peppers and housemade flour tortillas ($14-21). Taco platter options (set of three with rice and beans) include the Chili Braised Short Rib with cabbage and pickled red onion ($16); the Al Pastor, made with marinated and grilled pork and roasted pineapple ($14); and Chicken Tinga, made with slow cooked chicken and a chipotle and onion sauce ($14).
Enchilada options include chicken, beef and the Vegetarian Enchilada, made with mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers, onions, red or green sauce and sour cream ($13). ThePescado Veracruz, roasted mahi mahi with tomato sauce, golden raisins, green olives and escabeche ($24) stands out amongst the entrée plates. Sides such as the Escabeche with pickled cauliflower, carrots and jalapenos, avocado and oregano vinaigrette ($4); salads such as The Blondie Salad with grilled fajita chicken, romaine lettuce, tomato, onions, corn, cotija and cheddar cheeses, black beans and chipotle ranch ($14); and desserts such as theMargarita Pie with tequila, lime and orange custard and whipped cream ($8) round out the menu.
Hand-crafted cocktails inspired by The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, including The Man With No Name, Angel Eyes and the One-Armed Bounty Hunter accompanies an extensive margarita menu featuring a variety of options.
Grip’s brand aesthetic is evident in all facets of the interior design. The layout calls for a “dinner in the front, party in the back” setting. Once inside, guests will be greeted with exposed brick walls, an inviting bar and pops of color throughout. Outside, patrons will enjoy a picturesque bodega, brick fireplace, engaging courtyard and other fun aspects that will keep them coming back.
“Rooted in the warm tones of the Southwest, our design approach reflects the joy of a raucous family meal where the ‘family’ is extended and the cuisine is extensive,” says Grip partner Kevin McConkey.
Additional design inspiration and creative direction, headed by SPACE Architects + Planners, came from La Loteria, a popular game played in the Mexican barrios. “We consider all projects to be rooted in the environment and surroundings they occupy,” says Space Spokesperson Jean Dufresne. “Tuco and Blondie is at the heart of the Southport Corridor commercial district, a very lively and family friendly neighborhood. We designed the new physical space to reflect that image and we want the neighbors to feel like it’s a welcoming and friendly place for them to enjoy.”
Tuco and Blondie will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Saturday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight. Brunch will be offered Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.