Inside the airy downtown roof of this modern Greek Empire

Avli on the Park – the fourth restaurant of Greek-American chef Louie Alexakis and Lou Canellis’ fast-growing modern Greek food empire – opened this week. The new flagship represents the next chapter in the brand’s attempt to dominate Chicago, establishing itself at 180 N. Field Boulevard, the former home of III Forks Steakhouse, as the pandemic subsides.

The new 13,000-square-foot tavern is completely remodeled, swapping black walls and dark wood accents for a light, airy aesthetic meant to make diners feel like vacationing on the sun-bleached Greek coast. Rustic wood wall decor, rope loops draped above, and sculptural light fixtures soften the otherwise austere white spaces. Clues from the previous tenant remain, including huge floor-to-ceiling windows with lovely views of Lakeshore East Park, a huge U-shaped bar, and a pair of two-sided stone fireplaces.

The space is prepared for alfresco dining – a pandemic necessity that will likely remain even after the city has fully reopened. It has a huge roof terrace with heated cabins to attract guests all year round.

Executive chef and native Greek Nikolaos Kapernaros (Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Resort Lagonissi) has incorporated his own family’s recipes into the menu alongside longtime Avli hits such as Astakomakaronatha, or Lobster pasta (tomatoes, white wine, ouzo) and Garides Kataifi, or filo shrimps (spicy mayo, Greek yogurt). Kapernaros also offers a chef’s table with special menus and a handful of small plates and desserts for rooftop patrons.

There’s a wine list filled with Greek selections and natural wines, plus house cocktails like Teach Me to Dance (vodka infused with Greek wild mountain tea, bergamot, thyme, honey, lemon).

Alexakis and Fox Chicago, sports anchor Cannelis, also operate Avli restaurants in Lincoln Park, River North and the suburb of Winnetka. The new Lakeshore East outpost is the result of a collaboration with local real estate company Magellan Development Group.

Visit the space in the photos below.

Avli on the park, 180 N. Field Boulevard, open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

The new spot is well located to attract tourists.

A table and chairs inside a glass enclosure next to rows of wine bottles.

Greek wines are in the spotlight.

A piece of sticky Greek cheese with a slice of lemon


A row of four spreads over a white plate.

Spreads include taramosalata (cod roe), tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber), tirokafteri (spicy feta), and hummus.

Avocado and halloumi (poached figs in wine, grilled red peppers, tomatoes, preserved grapes)

Avocado and halloumi (poached figs in wine, grilled red peppers, tomatoes, preserved grapes)

wild shrimp, cauliflower puree, smoked feta cheese, tomato sauce, ouzo, garlic

Garides Microlimano, or feta shrimp

branzino fillet, sofregada, Mediterranean brunoise

Lavraki Fileto, or Pan-Seared Branzino
Barry Brecheisen / Eater Chicago

A square of chocolate cake

Flourless chocolate cake (Kalamata figs, walnuts, Cypriot Commandaria wine)

A small basket-shaped pastry

Bougatsa apple pie (icing sugar, cinnamon)

A cocktail in a martini glass with a big slice of cucumber

Village Cooler (Roots Mastiha Prairie Gin, cucumber mint liqueur, sparkling water, cardomom bitter)

A cocktail garnished with a slice of lemon and a sprig of thyme

Teach Me to Dance (vodka infused with Greek tea from the wild mountains, bergamot, thyme, honey, lemon)

Martini hit (Tito’s, Baileys, hitting pitches)

Trellis (fig infused rye whiskey, Metaxa brandy, Roots Tentura bitter tea, ouzo rinse)

Two hands push a large red drink into a huge wine glass wrapped with a thin slice of cucumber towards the front

Refreshing cocktails are a good balance for Mediterranean flavors.

About Jonathan Bell

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