5 Things to Know About Ronero
Winter is the perfect time to launch a tropical rum-splashed restaurant in Chicago. While it may be frigid outside, at least locals can distract themselves from the forecast with Peruvian potatoes and daiquiris. This is what makes Ronero such a fortuitous opening. The Latin American spot is the latest addition to the West Loop’s Restaurant Row, and here are five things you should know before you go:
1. The chef is well versed in Latin cooking. Cory Morris formerly served as chef de cuisine at Mercat a la Planxa and Rural Society, and here he's modernizing South American classics, creating dishes such as a bracing, citrusy ceviche of raw shrimp and sea bass flecked with crunchy corn nuts and spicy Fresno chiles, and matambre, a thin, tender cut of beef that's cured and served with heirloom carrot, egg and chimichurri emulsion.
2. Ronero’s owner knows a thing or two himself. Nils Westlind actually grew up in South America (mostly in Colombia, to be exact, along with other locales on the continent) and married a Brazilian woman, prompting him to draw upon his personal history to capture the sense of culture and cuisine. He named the place after the Latin American title for someone who's mastered the rum-making process. Ronero marks his first restaurant venture, after having worked at local spots like Parliament and Nellcote.
3. Westlind’s long-standing love of rum inspired the drink list and the overall theme of the bar. Rum barrels line the wall by the entrance, beckoning guests to an oasis where fruity cocktails await. The Cadejo Blanco is a beachy and herbaceous blend of Flor de Caña four-year añejo rum and Plantation pineapple rum, mango, chimichurri greens, lime and Boomsma Clooster Bitter liqueur. For something a bit richer, a whole egg adds hefty body to the Cantadera O Décima, a combo of añejo rum and coconut rum, Demerara, peppercorns and an herbal liqueur called Fernet Gancia. Of course, rum classics like daiquiris and piña coladas are also on hand.
4. The design is likely to transport you somewhere warm. To Little Havana, specifically. The restaurant is decorated as an homage to the Miami neighborhood's art deco era, with lots of gilded fixtures, gold tiling and banana leaf prints.
5. There’s an upstairs bar still to come. Due in the coming weeks, it will focus on rare spirits and upscale rum cocktails. There will also be live music and entertainment, plus an emphasis on tableside service, making the second floor a bit more intimate.
Ronero is now open Tuesday–Thursday and Sunday from 5–10 PM, and Friday–Saturday from 5–11 PM.
738 W. Randolph St.; 312-600-6105
All photos by Ben Macri