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The Chicago Traveler


by Matt B on May 18th, 2007

If you’re looking for a spot with fabulous food, a sensational space, and amazing atmosphere, you’re going to want to visit Carnivale. It is one of Chicago’s liveliest restaurants with a nightclub feel to it. The building is a huge space (35,000 square feet), but it’s broken up into smaller dining-area nooks and crannies. The entire space is colorful and energetic, marked with custom-made metalwork, velvet curtains, multi-colored plush chairs, fabric-covered chandeliers, and a jewel-colored skylight.


The restaurant features Brazilian, Cuban, Colombian, and Puerto Rican food which executive chef Mark Mendez likes to call “Latin soul food.” The menu is consisted primarily of red meat and seafood. For appetizers, there are fried whitefish mini-tacos, crab in habanero cocktail sauce, ropa vieja (shredded Cuban braised beef), and a half-dozen ceviches, which are available individually or in group tastings. However, with all the different flavors, you’ll probably want to order them individually. The owner, Jerry Kleiner, is not a fan of smooth, creamy guacamole, so his version includes large chunks of avocado with big helpings of tomato and cilantro.

And although the portions are plentiful, the delicious entrees will have you wishing for more: Guatemalan roasted chicken with jalapeno-parsley “mojo,” skirt steak, short ribs with mashed potatoes and corn-and-peanut salsa, ribeye in a lime-garlic sauce, filet mignon, arroz con mariscos, rum-glazed pork shoulders, and seared tuna with romesco sauce and olive-caper relish.

Carnivale has a very “hip” vibe to it, so this dining experience may require just a touch more than t-shirt and jeans. However, you’ll be glad you spiffed up to meet the elegant chocolate tres leches cake calling your name.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) JOE M500

Carnivale ($$$): 702 W Fulton Market; 312-850-5005
Dining Room Hours
Sun - Thurs: 5:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 5:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Lounge Hours
Sun - Thurs: 11:30 a.m. - 12 midnight
Fri - Sat: 5:00 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.
Street parking available; valet ($5)
Public Trans: Bus # 8, 56 or Green/Pink Line train (Clinton)

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POSTED IN: Restaurants

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