Cervecería Cruz Blanca - Chicago
The West Loop lays claim to more celebrated chefs than any neighborhood in Chicago. There's Grant Achatz, Stephanie Izard, Curtis Duffy, Bill Kim, John Manion, Paul Kahan and Sarah Grueneberg. And most recently, in 2016, Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo) opened not one, but two restaurants in the area.
Cruz Blanca is the Mexican cuisine kingpin's foray into the craft beer scene; the adjacent restaurant is Leña Brava, which focuses on wine. Onsite, they're putting their spin on classic German, Austrian and French styles of beer--similar to the beers that blossomed throughout Mexico City in the 1860s.
Beer enthusiasts should be ecstatic because they can sample German pilsners, Vienna lagers, German lactic acidic beers and French style Bieres de Garde. Also get ready for a few contemporary American styles utilizing traditional Mexican and locally sourced ingredients. There are regular tours of the Cruz Blanca Brewery.
All of Cruz Blanca's fare comes out of its taquería. Wood-grilled meats are the specialty, with half-cured flank tasajo, red chile pork cecina, chorizo and chicken being some of the highlights. They're accompanied by wood-grilled knob onions and peppers, smoky Oaxacan pasilla salsa, avocado salsa, crunchy pico de gallo, grilled nopal cactus, cucumbers and fresh-made tortillas.
And those wanting an alternative to tacos may choose from shrimp enchildas or Oaxcan-style tlayudas, which are giant, shareable tostadas with black bean spread, cheese, grilled knob onions, güero chile, green salsa and a choice of a wood-grilled protein.