CHICAGO (WLS) -- The options can be a little overwhelming at Latinicity, what with its 22-thousand square feet of space, including seating for 300, plus the sit-down restaurant, Pata Negra, tucked inside. First, get a card at the front, which allows you to rack up quite a bill if you're hungry, that's because temptation comes from each of the small kiosks, with a pan-Latin approach.
"From Spain, Portugal, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America, Central America, South America..." said Executive Chef Mark Chmielewski
That could mean hearty tortilla soup, embedded with tiny chunks of cheese and avocado, plus shredded chicken, crispy tortillas and a drizzle of crema. A seafood counter bekons with fresh oysters and shrimp, as well as pristine ceviche, made to-order and served with crunchy chips. Feeling like a burger or a dog? This kiosk features both, but with Mexican and Chilean inspirations. Other South American accents come in the form of handmade empanadas or a selection of grilled beef.
"Colombian sausage, Argentinian sausage, churrascos; we do a smoked brisket," he said.
The taqueria seems to have the longest line - there are nearly a half-dozen options to choose from - and there's also some Asian influence, thanks to Peru.
"Chaufa from Peru, which came from Chinese immigrated there; came up with their own concept of taking Latin ingredients and cooking it with Chinese technique," said Chmielewski.
That means wok-fried noodles with seared beef and chilies, plus a few notes of soy sauce.
There are several inspired cocktails from the extensive bar, including pisco and tequila, as well as wine...all of which you can purchase to-go, from their thoughtfully-sourced market, which is part of the reason they don't need to search high and low for their ingredients.
"We don't have to source a lot of stuff, a lot of it we can find very readily," he said.
It would take several visits to Latinicity to try everything, because there are literally dozens of different meals here, but when it comes to dessert, just two: flan and an incredibly moist tres leches.
Plan on short waits both upon entering the dining hall, as people have to wait to get a card, and then if it's busy, there might be another wait to exit and pay.
108 N. State St.
3rd floor of Block 37 Mall
Latinicity offering an alternative for Loop diners