Chicago’s happening Hubbard Street is arguably the center of city nightlife during the summer months. The jewel in its crown? The newly-opened Coco Restaurant & Champagne Lounge, which has already gained many faithful followers since its debut in late February.
With plenty of buzz surrounding its Louis XIII invitation-only back room specializing in scotch and whisky and an upstairs jazz club and penthouse—both newly renovated and reopening this month—Coco is a not-to-be missed stylish nightlife destination, well-worthy of a weekend pilgrimage. But don’t let the “lounge” in its name fool you: Coco offers fine dining on par with any of the city’s greats.
Executive Chef and Manager, Dion Jumapao, of Embeya and Nico Osteria fame, seamlessly combines traditional Eastern flavors with contemporary American and French cuisine.
Originally focusing on small plates meant to be shared among guests, Jumapao has since added some larger dishes that you can keep all to yourself.
Highlights include the chef’s halibut and salmon creations, as well as lamb with asparagus and whipped potatoes. The vegan-friendly pan-roasted cauliflower, which is accompanied by frisée, Marcona almonds, roasted tomatoes, and candy stripe beets, is a lighter option that’s full of flavor.
“Chef Jumapao takes a lot of pride, and it shows, in the plating of his dishes and in his attention to quality and detail. He makes himself open to guest feedback and loves talking with diners, making sure to visit each table,” notes Vicki Vela, Coco’s Operating Manager.
Monday through Friday, Coco offers a happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., with $1 oysters and select half-price items, which change daily. The oysters hail from both east and west, like the Kumamoto out of Humboldt Bay and the French Kiss out of Canada. All are served with signature sauces made on site, including a champagne mignonette with ramp oil, a house-made cocktail sauce, and a truffle-garlic aioli.
For hungry revelers, the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Items on this menu go beyond the usual “chips and sliders” fare found on most late-night menus. Coco serves up sophisticated takes on casual dishes from lobster rolls and chicken croquettes to bison tartare (one of the restaurant’s most popular items), salads, and even a raspberry affogato for dessert to very appreciative night owls.
Those interested in the perfect pairings when it comes to wining and dining might opt for Coco’s new chef’s table option—a group seating with prix fixe menu from $130-200 per person. For this menu, the Coco staff has teamed up to blend its impressive wine list with inventive options from Jumapao’s kitchen.
As a champagne lounge by name, fantastic sparkling cocktails abound. Head Bartender and Captain Brian Kim creates seasonally-focused libations that stand alone or pair well with Jumapao’s offerings. One summer standout is the Provence, described by Vela as a “rosé sangria.” This vodka-based cocktail, infused in-house with fresh strawberries, is blended with sparkling rosé to create a perfectly refreshing end-of-summer drink.
The Provence is best enjoyed on Coco’s spacious front patio, a great spot for people-watching along this busy and vibrant stretch of Hubbard Street. And this sunny spot is a perfect counterpart to the restaurant’s luxuriously dark, sexy interior.
While the romantic, dimly-lit space is tailor-made for date night, its sleek, leather-bound styling make it equally suited for a guy’s night out. Its French-inspired styling lends itself as a chic backdrop for any ladies’ night as well.
Coco Restaurant & Champagne Lounge is located at 23 West Hubbard Street in Chicago, 312-374-3114, cocochampagnelounge.com.