Chef Daniel Espinoza's Lobo Rey Opens in Chicago's South Loop
Lobo Rey, the restaurant from Executive Chef Daniel Espinoza and The Scout Owners Chris Bravos and Jeff Wolff, has opened its doors to the public. Located next door to The Scout in Chicago, the restaurant exudes a come-as-you-are, convivial vibe, complemented by Executive Chef Daniel Espinoza’s Midwest approach to Mexican cuisine, using modern techniques.
The kitchen, helmed by Executive Chef Daniel Espinoza, an Eater Young Gun 2017 Semi-Finalist, Zagat 30 under 30 Recipient, and fourth finalist on Top Chef Mexico, offers an alternative and playful approach to Mexican classics, utilizing local ingredients that change with the seasons. Deeply rooted in the culinary culture of his Mexican upbringing, Espinoza’s menu harks on the nostalgic meals and flavors he enjoyed as a kid, while applying them to a modern Midwest palate.
The menu, designed with group dining in mind, incorporates shared plates such as the Flautas de Pollo con Papa with crispy chicken and potato, salsa verde, red pickled cabbage slaw, and crema, and Quesadilla de Hongos, an earthy yet sweet quesadilla interpretation, with braised mushrooms, Chihuahua queso, carrot mole, and radish salad. Guests can also enjoy an array of Espinoza’s tacos, served on handmade tortillas using a 30-year old tortilla-press gifted to Espinoza by his grandmother. Taco options range from the Scallop and Pig Ear with sikil pak, green apple and serrano relish with jocoque, as well as Espinoza’s take on an Al Pastor with chile marinated pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, and onions. Large plates like the Pescado a la Veracruzana, a seasonally rotating fish preparation served with red quinoa, plantain croquettes, mole Amarillo, shaved fennel, and pickled grape salad are also available. The restaurant also serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday, offering dishes including Chilaquiles and Waffles.
Chef Daniel Espinoza’s wife, Chef Jhoana Ruiz, spearheads the pastry program, offering freshly made churros, housemade breads, and seasonal desserts such as a Rice Pudding with ancho-pumpkin seed crumble, topped with a crispy buñuelo, rompope reduction, and seasonal berries.
The beverage program features refreshing riffs on classic Mexican cocktails such as the Paloma del Rey with Banhez mezcal, Combier Pamplemousse rose, and lime, with a chili mango rim, and the Royal Sangrita with Codigo Blacno, Dustos pineapple sangrita, and lime. Rotating seasonal cocktails are also offered such as the Conchata with Hennessy VSOP, Horchata concentrate, and bitters garnished with a cinnamon stick. Mexican beers such as Negra Modelo and Victoria are available, as well as a rotating selection of wines.
Housed in Chicago’s up-and-coming South Loop neighborhood, Lobo Rey is walking distance from some of city’s top sites including Soldier Field, Grant Park, McCormick Place, and Museum Campus. Lobo Rey, which translates to Wolf King in Spanish, projects a communal and vibrant atmosphere with various elements of entertainment incorporated into the dining experience. The 4,700 square foot space serves several purposes, with a full bar complete with tufted stools and flat screen TVs ideal for game days, a grab-and-go counter offering tacos and decadent churros, as well as an open dining room designed to cater to diners from early afternoon well into the evening.
The space lends an ideal option for group dining, providing several tables that can accompany parties of up to 16 people. The first of its kind in the city of Chicago, Lobo Rey introduces a flattop grill experience within the restaurant, where the chefs cook multi-course meals, live in front of large parties.
Lobo Rey has officially opened with full hours and its comprehensive dinner and cocktail menus. Lobo Rey is open Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Reservations for Lobo Rey can be made on Reserve and walk-ins are welcomed.