Like the original Beatnik in West Town, Beatnik On The River takes guests on a journey, drawing inspiration from the Beat Generation of 1950s and ’60s and the bohemian hipsters who followed in their path. At the Loop’s Beatnik On The River, the globetrotting dishes and cocktails, and boho-chic interior are further enhanced with breathtaking views of the South Branch of the Chicago River located next to it, adding to the transporting experience.
In May 2018, Beatnik On The River debuted its 80-seat riverfront patio filled with pillow-topped Indonesian daybeds, Moroccan lanterns and lush greenery. A year later, the permanent interior space was unveiled. Located at 180 N. Upper Wacker Dr., the former sign shop has been transformed into an otherworldly space by means of the 1913 jewelry shop — crystal chandeliers, mirrored surfaces and bird’s eye - maple interior and all — installed inside it. Nearby, more of those aforementioned daybeds and overflowing planters along with cozy two-top tables are positioned in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, offering the same spectacular river views as the outdoor space downstairs. Out front on the Wacker Drive sidewalk, an expansive patio, weather permitting, echoes the Morocco-meets-Bali vibe of the interior and riverfront patio.
Mirroring the restaurant’s design aesthetic, Chef Marcos Campos’s cuisine takes a worldly approach, harmoniously melding flavors and ingredients from Asia, Mexico, the Middle East, South America and beyond. Like the food, cocktails change seasonally and tap into the exotic with ingredients ranging from Ceylon cinnamon to Szechuan-chipotle honey. The sounds of Beatnik On The River follow suit, with influences arriving from all corners of the globe. Reggae, Afrobeat and Middle Eastern Classic Rock weave easily with Brazilian Soul and ’60s French Pop.
Let the journey begin…
At Beatnik On The River, Chef Marcos Campos does away with borders and instead plays with flavors and ingredients from all over the world for the lunch and dinner menus. This wanderlust parallels the personal journey of Campos, who began his culinary career at his father’s butcher shop in Valencia, Spain, before moving on to work at Michelin-starred Las Rejas in Cuenca. In 2012, he moved to the United States to work at sister property Black Bull, which he still oversees. At Beatnik On The River, the small plates and large-format dishes (The Feast) are designed to be mixed and matched, creating an international dinner party of sorts in the process
Behind the bar at Beatnik On The River cocktails are built around the desire to create drinks that are fun, creative, beautiful and unstuffy, while incorporating practices inspired by the anti-waste movement. To that end, the bar team constantly collaborates with the culinary team to cross-utilize and re-purpose all perishables, from the kitchen to the bar and vice versa. Beatnik On The River also offers more 100 wines from “of the moment” regions, winemakers and varietals, in addition to beers from Illinois and imports from Belgium, Spain, Italy and Mexico.
Like its older sibling, Beatnik On The River embraces a maximalist approach when it comes to its interior design in which every inch has been carefully curated offering surprises everywhere you look.
When guests enter the front door, they’ll first encounter the main bar, clad in hand-painted glazed tiles — set in patterns inspired by the interior courtyards of Andalusia — and featuring more one-of-a-kind historical elements in the form of two massive futuristic vintage light fixture from the 1950s and a brass back bar created by repurposing a vintage bakery rack from a Paris patisserie. As interesting as those elements are, however, it will be hard not to focus on the bold Pucci-inspired wall coverings created by local visual artist and longtime Bonhomme collaborator Erik DeBat encasing the 1913 Nashville jewelry store.
That is, until guests enter the jewelry store space itself, which has been lovingly restored and put back together by a local master carpenter piece by piece. Essentially a breathtaking hall of mirrors with recessed mirrored niches and sliding-door cabinets once used for jewelry display and storage, the space includes pink velvet-topped benches on each side of a 16-foot French draper’s table with eight turned legs, three drawers and a lower shelf down the middle, providing a perfect spot for the casual consumption of cocktails and wine — and, most likely, mirror-reflected selfies — whether or not guests are waiting for a dining table.