Chikatana (850 W Fulton Market, Chicago), the playful cantina with menus that reflect both the vibrancy of Mexico’s cuisine, as well as the Midwestern seasonal harvest, is set to open early June in Fulton Market.

The restaurant’s open-air setting welcomes the revitalized, modern takes on timeless dishes that have blossomed from the culture’s fare — drawing from street carts, fine dining restaurants and everything in between. In creating Chikatana, the team sought to curate an atmosphere that acts as an extension of the guest’s dining table at home.

Through Chikatana’s menus, Executive Chef Guillermo Reyes (Mi Tocaya Antojeria, Mercat a la Planxa) invites each guest to take a journey through Mexico. The menu begins with refreshing dishes, such as a nopales salad (cactus paddles), a colorful beet salad and an aguachile verde. Guests are met with time-honored starters like guacamole, gazpacho, esquites (street corn) and sopes made with fresh masa. Vegetarian dishes, like the cauliflower chorizo taco, asparagus and Mexican cheese, are some of Reyes’ personal favorites. Reyes’ cooking philosophy pays homage to culinary traditions of specific regions, while providing his own modern, Oaxacan-inspired perspective. 

Chikatana’s cocktail program, led by Beverage Director Blaze LaRoe, intermingles with each dish, featuring agave-focused renditions and expressive wine pairings curated by General Manager Laine Peterson. The spirits echo the regional Mexican approach, shining a light on Raicilla and Sotol, two long-standing Mexican liquors made from agave. Playful and innovative, LaRoe builds cocktails from the same Mexican flavors embraced in the kitchen, while Peterson leads with fresh, easy-to-drink selections that transport guests to a vacation-like experience. 

The significance behind the concept’s name comes from a flying ant, ‘Chikatana,’ that is native to Mexico, and is known as a culinary delicacy, often foraged to be roasted and savored. The celebrated insect tells a story of springtime migration during the rainy season, emblematic of progress despite otherwise rough conditions. The team looks forward to embodying the resilient Chikatana spirit, flowing with the seasons as well as the landscape of Chicago’s hospitality industry. 

Chikatana will take flight in Fulton Market District in June of 2021. Designed by Avril Zayas, the patio holds 64 guests at full capacity. Upon opening, Chikatana will offer a late-night tlayuda-focused menu with options of beans and cheese, cochinita, and chorizo until 1:00 a.m. 

Casual Dining, Industry News, Chikatana