Most food halls include established names, or restaurants already in business. At Politan Row - wedged into the west side of the McDonald's Headquarters in the West Loop - they take the opposite approach.
"We try to give a platform for rising star talent, which is a little different than some of the food halls here in Chicago," said Robert Larcom, the GM of Politan Row. "Of all the cities we were looking at, Chicago has such a great food scene and it's one of the best food cities in America and there's such a depth of talent, if anything, we wanted to showcase all of this talent that was here and give them that platform."
WATCH: Politan Row's varied drink options
Some of that talent has been around for years. You'll find sweets and some savories, like an asparagus tart, from Floriole Bakery; Clave offers tastes of Cuba, like a classic Cubano, courtesy of the folks behind Bayan Ko in Ravenswood. LaShuk started out as a pop-up at the Wicker Park Farmer's Market, here its making excellent hummus and other Israeli dishes like charred eggplant. Tolita - an off-shoot of Cafe Tola - is making destination-worthy birria tacos and comforting bowls of pozole.
Piko started as a food truck; here, they're offering Hainanese chicken rice, with a sidecar of soothing chicken broth, plus an ode to Vietnam with a bowl of bun cha, jammed with pork and pickled vegetables. Thattu is cooking the food of Southern India, specifically, Kerala; their egg curry with ghee rice is great, but do try a freshly-made appam for the full experience. Smashed Radish makes smoothies and healthy salads - this Southwestern version contains enormous shrimp, fresh avocado and charred corn.
At Mom's, they're cooking from a place of deep respect.
"Our concept is Japanese comfort food," said co-owner Kelly Ijichi. "We're doing a lot of homestyle Japanese flavors that I don't think a lot of people are accustomed to having Japanese food in Chicago."
Delicate buckwheat soba noodles, garnished with dried seaweed, then heated with a bit of dashi and an assortment of pickles, scallions and ginger. With milk bread they get from a Niles bakery, their pork katsu sandwich has already gained quite a following.
"It's super fluffy, super light milk bread that's very squishy when you bite down into it," she said.
A brined pork cutlet, butchered in-house is the star.
"It's panko breaded and fried, then we top it with finely-shredded cabbage and pea greens," said Ijichi.
So 13 different concepts, all under one roof; 10 of them devoted to food with an international appeal.
In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a look at a trio of drinking options at Politan Row, including the bar, a beer garden and a great local coffee roaster.
111 N. Aberdeen St.