Leña Brava is a nicer and cool Mexican restaurant in the West Loop.
A friend I hadn't seen in years was visiting Chicago. Did I have time to grab dinner? Of course I did! His only request was "not Italian," but I had my own goals: to showcase Chicago, to reaffirm that I took this friendship seriously, and to keep the meal exciting. Lena Brava happily delivered. The West Loop location was impressive and hip, and the excellent cocktails immediately affirmed that I wasn't taking my friend to just ANY fancy restaurant, but a GOOD fancy restaurant (an important difference). At the beginning, the waiter assured us that the Baja flavors had been "adjusted to the midwestern palate" (although I'm sure it could be readjusted back up for the more initiated). I was relieved to hear this, but my friend was worried it would be bland. We were both pleasantly surprised that everything we ordered had a kick that only enhanced the flavors. As is usual for an upscale restaurant, the focus was on meat -- so we ended up eating lots of fish and the duck. All delicious. We forwent the desert in favor of walking to a coffee shop, and my friend walked out pleased and half-convinced that he should move to Chicago. What could possibly be a better ending?
The food was great and we really enjoyed the cocktails; which are a little pricey, but were really tasty.
Leña Brava has been on my list since it opened. We finally had the time to go, and it did not disappoint at ALL. Phenomenal Cocktail list, amazing selection of Mezcal, and fantastic depth of flavors from beginning to end. Stop reading this and book your table, you won’t be sorry!
Seafood cooked perfectly, sea bass unbelievable! Highly recommend the bass
We enjoyed our meal. The highlights were the polenta, the pineapple aguachile with tlayudas, the mezcal cocktails, and the white chocolate cheesecake. Our fish entrees were good but not as memorable as the other dishes. Our serve Felipe was excellent but the girl bussing our table had an attitude.
Really very good -- just a shade below top notch
Food was excellent, although we ordered a vegetarian entree of cauliflower and maitake mushrooms that was $22 and it only came with one mushroom!! We complained and our server was very nice and immediately ordered more mushrooms from the kitchen. However, when the manager brought them, he didn't apologize or acknowledge the issue. I thought this reflected very poorly on the restaurant which is why I am giving 2* on service.
Absolutely wonderful. This is our second time back and everything was delicious. Our waiter was so knowledgeable and friendly. The food is outstanding and don't skip dessert!
Lena Brava was definitely a great experience. The waiter was very knowledgeable and the drinks were great. I got a non-alcoholic beverage, and it was so tasty! Friends ordered cocktails and wine, and they had to order another. We ordered ceviche (yellow-tail) w/ habanero infused, gave a bit of a kick of you like spicy! The group ordered, duck entre, and the half chicken. Everything looked good and was phenomenal! From a price perspective, you get what you pay for. :)
Hate this place. Over priced Mexican Food that doesn’t taste the cost and takes FOREVER. They only use wood fired cooking so if you like to wait around like a Neanderthal you’re in luck.
Sadly I’ll be back bc my girlfriend likes it, but they’ll always be on the bottom of my list. Terrible, half the menu is basically different varieties of ceviches filled with BS fish, it’s remarkable how popular it it seems....
Don’t be fooled, often times at this place even though the restaurant shows no reservation slots it’s really bc they are choosing not to fill the tables....NOT bc it’s full. Try your luck by calling or showing up if you must decide for yourself. Was near empty on a Sunday night with no reservations... Sketch.
Food was top-notch, but the wait for our meals was unacceptable. We arrived when the restaurant opened, with a reservation, but it took more than three hours to get our entrees.
Have dined here many times . Always love the food, service and casual atmosphere. This time service was awful. Waiter was not on top of it. Difficult to understand and never cane back to see if there was anything else we needed .
Amazing food and drinks! Will be back!
Everything from both kitchens was delicious, and the cocktails were outstanding. Pricier than I expected, but worth it. Great date spot!
I went with a friend. The food was amazing. I can't wait to go back with my husband. Need to reserve in advance - hard to get in....but worth it.
The food is phenomenal! Mostly gluten free and healthy! You can come here if you are paleo or gluten free. loved this place
This is the 4th time I have eaten at Lena Brava, and although the Short Rib and Lena Fire were great as always, the Octopus was lukewarm at best when we got it, and it had a chewy texture. The normally great Ceviche was a bit bland as well. Not sure if the quality and service has gone down, or it was just a bad night.
I was disappointed with the way traditional simple Mexican food was modified to something that was very foreign and remote from its humble origins
Lena Brava was outstanding. The food was, of course delicious, and the waitstaff was so knowledgeable, attentive, and kind. The cocktails are amazing. We'll be back ASAP - so delicious.
Exceptional service; engaging staff and unique Baja cuisine. Must have Lena Fire cocktail and the albacore tuna lena ceviche. And don’t pass up the roasted plantains Will go back for the Striped bass tablas next time.
Service was great. However, the meal left a little to be desired. The cod came out uncooked twice, management gave us a comp dessert, the apple/tomatillo pie tart and it was great. But we were still hungry.
It’s my second visit, and immediately want to make my third visit soon.
It’s pricey-but the service and craftsmanship of the staff is top notch.
Amazing food,atmospher and service, will be back again soon!
Delicious food. But the service was intense. We were constantly asked if we had finished each plate. 5 different people came up to us. At one point within 3 minutes of each other.
Greeting at door was terrible and rude.
I can’t wait to go back. I was a little concerned upon arrival as the noise level was high and the tables are seated very close together. Once we got settled, though, we were able to hold our own conversation clearly and did not even notice the patrons in either side. So many incredible write ups with unfamiliar ingredients. The staff offered many suggestions. We savored each bite from the appetizers to dessert. I can’t stop thinking about our meal. Spectacular!
Excellent flavorful food. We had beef, duck, and cod and each item was delicious.
The food was not good and overpriced.
Excellent food at Lena Brava. All wood-fire kitchen delights in seafood, ceviches and other grilled proteins. Cocktails were good. Dishes are meant to be shared and we enjoyed all of them.
Too cold by the window-a serious draft which interfered with dining experience- waiter was outstanding. Little disappointed in oysters but overall a good experience. Little overpriced
This restaurant was great! Our favorite dishes were the uni and the grilled octopus.
Our only disappointment was arriving to the restaurant before our reservation hoping to have a drink at the bar and learning that their bar is only for dinner service. They escorted us upstairs to a half bar without seats to have a drink while we waited. Not very comfortable. Just to add the food is very good but extremely expensive.
Delicious but a bit pricey for small plates. Nice for a special occasion and for those who enjoy seafood prepared in a unique way.
The uni and ceviche were amazing! I’ve had the pleasure of eating at several of Rick’s restaurants, and this fits right in with them.
I thought it has slipped a bit ( have been 4 times). Peanuts used in too many dishes. Wait staff tried to rush us through dinner ( must order apps and entree at the same time), even though we had cocktails and ordered wine. Tortilla crisps were burnt- had to ask for replacement. Had crab salad app and it was just crab, frizzee and mayo- pretty uninspired, uninteresting dish.
The staff and chef accommodated a food allergy with laudable expertise and grace. The meal was terrific and the hospitality much appreciated.
Bland food and high prices. Go to another Bayless restaurant.
The food was excellent. The portions are not too large so you can enjoy a taste of many different dishes. We loved the cranberry appetizer with thinly sliced halibut. My husband had the duck for his entree and he said it was the best duck he had ever eaten, he even persuaded me to try it and duck is not a favorite of mine and it was delicious. I had the black cod and it was exquisite. The cocktails were awesome. Overall, Lena Brave is perfect!
Wonderful experience for a birthday/early Valentine’s Day. Our server was fantastic, really knew the menu inside and out.
Short rib and cod were very flavorful but we loved the pineapple (vegan) ceviche the best!
Definitely plan to return to try even more on the menu.