Monday, January 11

Spotted Monkey

Loop Lunch
Spotted Monkey Chicago
Loop Lunch
Spotted Monkey Chicago
If you're looking for a new downtown lunch option, I have the place for you! Spotted Monkey is a new, counter-service breakfast and lunch spot in Chicago's Financial District. Spotted Monkey is the third eatery by chef and proprietor Amy Le, who also runs Saucy Porka, and previously ran the DuckNRoll food truck.

Spotted Monkey, which is named after the animal common to both Asia and Latin America, offers a menu of Latin and Asian fusion fare. The affordable menu features appetizers, salads, rice bowls, banh mi sandwiches, soups, and bacos (tacos served in steamed bao buns). I stopped by with a colleague for a weekday lunch since the restaurant is conveniently located near my office.

I definitely recommend looking over the menu before you show up because there are a ton of options. We asked Amy what she recommended based on the most popular items and she definitely hooked us up with a nice spread. We started with da funky monkey fries which are crinkle fries seasoned with what they dub "monkey spice", as well as picadillo ground beef, green onions, Chihuahua cheese, and serrano aioli. This is listed as an appetizer but could easily serve as a meal in itself! I loved the beef and house seasoning which was a little sweet and a little spicy. It's definitely an indulgent option-- just look at it!

Loop Lunch
Da Funky Monkey Fries
Spotted Monkey offers two salads, one of which is the zen salad with roasted edamame, black beans, corn carrots, and romaine, with a chipotle lime dressing. We were a fan of the salad and dressing, and added grilled shrimp for some extra protein.

Loop Lunch
Zen Salad with Shrimp
We also tried three entrees to get a little taste of different meats and dish formats. The first was our favorite, the Puerto Rican rice bowl with panang curry chicken. The chicken was super tender and the curry was very flavorful. If you're a fan of panang curry from your local noodle shop, you'll love this dish too.

Loop Lunch
Puerto Rican Rice with Panang Curry Chicken
One of the most popular dishes is the duck gumbo with five spice duck, green peppers, kidney beans, corn, spiced sausage and jasmine rice. There was so much going on in this dish and it was a perfect hearty meal for the frigid day we dined. We ordered the half portion which was HUGE, so unless you want multiple meals, definitely go with the half order. I'm not typically a fan of duck, but the meat was very tender. The gumbo was well spiced too--was that cinnamon I tasted?

Loop Lunch
Duck Gumbo
Similar to Saucy Porka, Spotted Monkey serves bacos, or bao-style tacos. Each steamed bao bun is filled with your choice of protein including guajillo pork or shrimp, panang curry chicken or tofu, ropa vieja, or five spice duck. We opted for the guajillo shrimp and ropa vieja varieties, and tried one with a traditional corn tortilla instead of a bao. These little pillows of heaven were tasty! I could tell the ropa vieja had been marinated awhile, and I loved the kimchi on top. The shrimp bacos were topped with a sweet corn salsa that added a little crunch.

Loop Lunch
Tacos & Bacos
For dessert, we tried Spotted Monkey's Guatemalan doughnuts which are similar to empanadas, but are made from mashed plantains mixed with flour. The doughnuts are filled with your choice of an Asian-style red bean paste, banana Nutella, or guava jam. No surprise--I went with the banana Nutella! The doughnut wasn't as sweet as a standard doughnut, and it's totally healthy because it's made from fruit ;)

Loop Lunch
Banana Nutella Guatemalan Doughnut
Loop Lunch
Banana Nutella Guatemalan Doughnut
Spotted Monkey is a fun lunch or breakfast spot if you're around the Loop or Financial District. I like the fusion concept and their wide variety of menu options. It's hard to find something similar in that area, so it's definitely a welcome addition to the neighborhood! Spotted Monkey is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Note: my meal at Spotted Monkey was complimentary; however, all opinions are my own.

Spotted Monkey
335 S. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60606
312.285.2303

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