Jenner Tomaska & Katrina Bravo's Guide to Chicago: Where to Eat and Shop
Husband and wife team Jenner Tomaska and Katrina Bravo are the talent behind a new solo venture, Esmé, in Chicago's Lincoln Park area. Located on the corner of North Clark Street, north of West Webster Avenue, the restaurant is expected to be a focal point for the Lincoln Park neighbourhood.
With Esmé (French for 'beloved'), Tomaska and Bravo aspire to reimagine the fine-dining model with philanthropy and art integrated into the fabric of the whole experience. The restaurant will be the expression of their shared vision for a community-focused restaurant. Tomaska’s fine-dining background will be on display in Esmé’s tasting menu, which evolves seasonal produce while taking inspiration from Chicago’s vibrant creative culture.
Tomaska and Bravo know Chicago's thriving food scene intimately. The city is fast staking a claim to be the number one fine-dining destination in the US. We asked them to compile a last of their favourite spots in the Windy City.
Jenner and I tend to hit the same spots repeatedly with a few new restaurants sprinkled in here and there. While some folks tend to remain within the confines of their neighbourhood (this is a very Chicago thing to do), we like to venture out and don’t put limits on how far we’re willing to go. Furthest on our list, but nearest to our hearts is Virtue, located on the South Side of the city in Hyde Park. When we’re looking for comfort and to be near family this is where you’ll find us. Jenner and I both came from mk Restaurant and worked under chef Erick Williams; not only is the food at Virtue delicious, but we get to spend time with people we love and care about.
For those days when we want to stay near home and are looking for something delicious, we stop by Galit. Galit has become a staple in our repertoire, with undoubtedly the best pita bread you will ever taste and an all-round inviting feel. We are beyond lucky to have chef Zach Engel and his team in our neighbourhood and are proud to be returning guests.
There’s probably no restaurant more personal to us than Lincoln Park’s Juno. Jenner and I have both held long-standing relationships with chef BK Park, who is known for his amazing personality and his superb sushi. During Jenner’s time at Next we would visit after each menu transition; this is where we ate to celebrate our elopement, last meal as a family of two, countless birthdays, graduations, and pretty much any important event in our lives. If something big is happening for us, we ALWAYS visit Juno.
If you’re coming in from out of town to visit us, chances are we’re taking you to Avec. With a warm and cosy space that prompts you to stay for far too long, Avec consistently pumps out delicious food. Oh, and their wine programme is phenomenal.
All Together Now
Speaking of wine, we both have a love of natural wines with tons of character and a hardy back story; at All Together Now you get that and more. Think community hub meets wine/cheese shop meets neighbourhood restaurant.
Green City Market
Once May rolls around the market sets up camp and Chicagoans rejoice! We’ve lived walking distance from the Lincoln Park location for many years and take full advantage of the local produce and snacks offered each Saturday. When scouting locations for our upcoming restaurant Esmé, we were determined to be near the market. For us being able to walk a few blocks and connect with local farmers and purveyors was a no-brainer. If you’re visiting Chicago in the summer a trip to the market is a must.