Whole Foods is opening a new flagship grocery store in Chicago, Illinois on May 20th, and I was invited to preview some of the samplings from their wide array of restaurants that will be located inside the store.
At this pre-opening "dress rehearsal," my family and I were given a store tour and encouraged to spend Saturday afternoon tasting entrees, side dishes, and beverages from their abundant restaurant venues featuring menu selections with a Chicago flare. This is a summary of the restaurant offerings within the new Lincoln Park Whole Foods Market:
The shining star was the Chicago Fire Rotisserie, offering a variety of bar-b-que and southern style dishes. We sampled generous, meal-sized portions of the rib tips and spare ribs with a sweet, tangy, mustard-based Carolina bar-b-que sauce, a beef brisket with traditional bar-b-que sauce, mashed potatoes, collard greens, cole slaw, and corn muffins.
The rib meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauces were flavorful. My children couldn't stop eating the corn muffins, and the collard greens were the best I've ever had. (And that's really saying something coming from this devoted fan of these hearty greens!)
At the Pilsen Taqueria, I sampled a bite or two of the beef burrito and the chicken taco with freshly made guacamole, as well as the roasted corn-on-the-cob, which was smeared in butter and slightly spicy seasonings. Yum!
At the Taylor Street Pizzeria, there are both New York style and Chicago style pizzas, along with fresh pasta cooked-to-order with your choice of sauces and ingredients ranging from shrimp to spinach. We sampled the ziti with alfredo sauce and a slice of the deep dish pepperoni pizza. The pasta was tender and cooked to perfection, and my five-year-old loved the pizza.
For beverages, we enjoyed Whole Foods' own delicious brand of 365 Everyday Value black cherry soda and ginger ale, made with all natural ingredients, using only cane sugar as a sweetener rather than the high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners found in most sodas. These sodas will definitely be on my grocery list in the future.
Wicker Subs, as the name implies, offers Chicago-style sub sandwiches with your choices of freshly sliced meats, cheeses, vegetables, and condiments.
The one restaurant not open during my preview day was Chinatown, but I took a peek at the menu, which will offer an interesting variety of choices with an Asian-fusion theme.
The Riverview Diner is a 50's style diner and sure to be a hit. My kids loved the turkey burger and fresh cut fries, accompanied by an absolutely decadent chocolate shake topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate syrup. I was tempted to order the strawberry shake blended from whole ripe strawberries and natural ice cream, but I absolutely could not eat another bite.
In addition to the restaurants, there is also a wine and cheese bar, a coffee bar, a seafood bar, and a brew pub. The specialized culinary display room will provide cooking classes with assorted themes. If you're looking for a place to meet friends for a hip hang out, there is a small sound stage area with seating for events ranging from live musicians to entertainment for kids.
A calendar of events is posted inside the store and on the Lincoln Park Whole Foods website. There is also an upper level with tables and chairs for restaurant patrons, as well as an outdoor patio area that overlooks the Chicago River.
The new Whole Foods store will be located on the corner of Kingsbury and Sheffield, one block south of North Avenue in Lincoln Park. This store will replace the previous Lincoln Park location.
Consistent with their other stores, this Whole Foods Market will feature organic food items ranging from hormone-free dairy to grass-fed beef and a variety of locally produced products. The new Lincoln Park Whole Foods also has a spacious Whole Body section with an indulgent selection of bath products, vitamins, baby products, and clothing.