Following in the footsteps of the DuckNRoll food truck and Saucy Porka restaurant, Spotted Monkey’s Latin-Asian offering isn’t merely fusion. It’s evolution.
Transitioning from poultry to pig to primate may seem like the stuff of fantasy, but for Spotted Monkey it was a natural progression. Over the years I’ve listened to my colleagues at the restaurant and food truck reminisce about their varied hometowns and native cultures. Those memories inspired the Spotted Monkey menu. Sometimes you can’t always go back home, but you can bring home back through flavors and smells. The menu mixes, matches and monkeys with ethnic influences from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Guatemala to Vietnam, Thailand, Korea and China.
Visitors to our counter-service lunch spot in Chicago’s Financial District will escape the monotony of their corporate cubicles and the bustle of the downtown streets for a colorfully rustic setting designed and decorated with the nostalgia of 1950s and ’60s Havana, Cuba. The multicultural menu offerings include specialties like duck confit banh mi topped with pickled Asian slaw, Puerto Rican yellow rice with panang curry chicken, and picadillo egg rolls with chipotle aioli. That’s in addition to a rotating lineup of made-from-scratch soups, my signature bacos “aka bao tacos,” Guatemalan Doughnuts made from mashed plantains and filled with Asian red beans, as well as seasonal homemade lemonades, and a sweet Jamaica-flower-based drink.
With this latest (ad)venture, myself and my life partner, Chicago blues musician John Keebler, are paying homage to the familiar foods people have come to enjoy in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens growing up. And despite the restaurant’s monkey moniker, no monkeys will be served on the menu — but we still hope you go ape over Spotted Monkey.