Leña Brava

4.7
934 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican

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About

Fire and ice have never played so well together. Leña Brava — ”ferocious wood” — takes its inspiration from the multicultural seaside elements of Baja California Norte, the region’s celebration of live-fire cooking and the area’s world-class wines.

The raw bar tempts with spicy aguachiles and unique ceviches while the kitchen satisfies with everything cooked on an open hearth and wood-burning oven. With one of the country’s best selections of mezcal and wines from the much-heralded Valle de Guadalupe, Leña Brava evokes the unique flavors of one of Mexico’s most vibrant regions.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Mexican, Traditional Mexican, Regional Mexican
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Hours of operation
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm, Sunday: 5:30pm- 9:00pm
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Phone number
(312) 733-1975
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Neighborhood
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Parking details
Valet parking is available.
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Public transit
Leña Brava is located on Randolph Street, one block south of the CTA Green Line and Pink Line Morgan stop.
Additional
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Full Bar, Private Room, Wine

What Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
7.8

Leña Brava is a nicer and cool Mexican restaurant in the West Loop.

Ratings 7.5-8.0:These are restaurants that are reliable, tasty, and particularly good for whatever we have deemed them “Perfect For.” Hit up a 7.7 for Date Night with confidence, as long as you don’t need the restaurant to be the most interesting thing that happens that night.
What 934 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.7based on all time ratings
4.6
food
4.5
service
4.4
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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OT
Chicago
4 reviews
Dined on July 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, great scenery, great drinks.

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AK
Orlando
1 review
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 3

Avoid at all costs. Terrible service, bad food, overpriced and overrated.

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JP
Chicago
44 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food!!! Can’t wait to come back and try more dishes

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d
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on May 6, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 2

Because we were dining there on Cinco de Mayo we made reservations months in advance. When we arrived we were shuttled to a small upstairs room which lacked any of the ambiance of the rest of the restaurant. I asked the host if we could sit at a table on the main floor as there were several, but was told that they were reserved tables. Implies there are two levels or reservations, the ones for regular folk and perhaps VIPs. The waiter didn't go over the menu which is not broken in a standard format, and when I ordered what turned out to be an appetizer for my main course from the ICE section of the menu, he didn't say anything about it. Later I ordered a margarita and was told that they don't make margaritas there. While they do have a full bar, apparently that is not in their wheelhouse. For the expense of the restaurant I would expect far better service.

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JT
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Stripped Bass was amazing - created best fish tacos I've had in a long time. Adam behind the bar was fantastic - great cocktails and tasted some delicious Mezcal. Uni flatbread was insane. Ate at the bar - great time.

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SG
Chicago
29 reviews
Dined on April 7, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

This was our first time at Leña Brava. I’m not a seafood fan but figured I’d branch out.

The food was good and if you’re a seafood fan, it’s definitely worth checking out. Great selection though I must admit I get a bit tired of the gimmicky menus that suggest 2 from this column, one from that and so on. After a few drinks I don’t want to think that much.

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j
Chicago
9 reviews
Dined on April 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent seafood meal. Got 2 of the "ice" selections, 2 of the "fire" selections and on the striped bass 1/2 and 1/2 toppings. All seafood selections although they have meat as well. The selections were perfectly seasoned and varied. All of the "fire" food is wood fired including the the delicious apple, tomatillo tart. Our favs were the Lena ceviche, the scallops, and the hiramasa laminados. All of the cocktails we had were interesting and tasty. Yummy dinner

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CL
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My significant other and I went to celebrate his birthday. He chose it, and we both thought it was excellent! Oscar, our waiter was excellent!

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JP
Washington DC
25 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great meal and addition to the Bayless group! The aguachiles and cocktails were perfect, as was the lobster. The seafood pozole was good, but different from other pozoles you may have had. Service was top notch and can’t wait to visit again.

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K
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on March 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was above and beyond, so delicious and creative. Our server Andy was so friendly, informative, and personable, he really made out experience! We were in town for a vacation and celebrating a birthday and this was the perfect place to do it at! Loved everything about it!

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J
Chicago
39 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Another great experience. Sensational food but accompanied by wonderful service. Oscar has been at Lena Brava since day 1 and knows the menu, including cocktails and wine list, inside out. One of our favorite places to eat in the city

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JD
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome food and service.

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OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

St Joseph’s day celebration and early Easter celebration

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OT
Chicago
3 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Food was exceptional. The service was also excellent. The
striped sea bass was top notch.

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RB
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The experience for my 60th birthday celebration was incredible. The food was memorable and my friends and I had so much fun! I would love be to go back again and again and work my way through the menu!

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S
Chicago
13 reviews
Dined on March 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, did not disappoint

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m
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on March 16, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 3

Great meal with excellent service. What’s we get every time we go to Rick’s restuarants. Loved it

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k
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

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?

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d
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

The food was great and we really enjoyed the cocktails; which are a little pricey, but were really tasty.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 14, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 5ambience 5

Fancy Mexican.

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JW
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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!

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MR
Chicago
20 reviews
Dined on March 11, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Seafood cooked perfectly, sea bass unbelievable! Highly recommend the bass

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ER
Chicago
7 reviews
Dined on March 11, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

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.

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Really very good -- just a shade below top notch

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m
Chicago
62 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 4

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.

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c
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

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!

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BA
1 review
Dined on March 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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. :)

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M
Chicago
54 reviews
Dined on March 5, 2018
Overall 2food 5service 3ambience 3

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.

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f
Chicago
27 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

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.

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DB
Chicago
9 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

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 .

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AD
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Amazing food and drinks! Will be back!

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P
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything from both kitchens was delicious, and the cocktails were outstanding. Pricier than I expected, but worth it. Great date spot!

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AA
Chicago
20 reviews
Dined on March 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

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.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on March 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is phenomenal! Mostly gluten free and healthy! You can come here if you are paleo or gluten free. loved this place

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JM
Chicago
23 reviews
Dined on February 27, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 5

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.

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AC
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

I was disappointed with the way traditional simple Mexican food was modified to something that was very foreign and remote from its humble origins

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DD
Chicago
26 reviews
Dined on February 26, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

A bit disappointing. We came here on the reputation of Chef Bayless. The descriptions on the menu were terrific. However, you couldn't necessarily distinguish and taste all the different flavors that were supposedly in many of the entrees. And, a number of the menu items tasted very much the same. The food wasn't bad, but I was expecting something better. Will think twice before I go back.

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c
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on February 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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.

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OT
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on February 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and drinks

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CG
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on February 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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.

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