Flora Fauna Stuns in River North

By Elaine Glusac | December 9, 2019 | Food & Drink

Splashy newcomer Flora Fauna brightens up the River North restaurant scene.

The bar at Flora Fauna

In the age of instagrammable dining and drinking, finding a restaurant that balances style and substance can be scarce. Enter Flora Fauna from husband-and-wife team of chef Jonathan Meyer and mixologist Liz Pearce. The destination’s bold, colorful aesthetic— from tropical interiors to sunset-colored cocktails and beautiful, bold-bite dishes—is stunning from “I’ll be your server” to “Check, please.”

“Flora Fauna was kind of everything Liz and I love about food and flavor and the world,” says Meyer, who credits his year and a half of living in Costa Rica and his wife’s extended work trips to Asia for expanding both their palates and palettes. “We wanted to take things you don’t normally see paired together and put them together in an approachable dining and drinking experience.”

Globe-trotting with abandon, the River North destination champions fusion mashups like Jamaican jerk pork shank with sticky fried rice, Sichuan dandan noodles made with green papaya and topped with spicy braised jackfruit, and stone bowls that blend Asian hot pot dishes with Mexican molcajetes in seafood, veggie or meat versions.

Horchata ice cream spices up the banana split.

Pearce designed the beverage program with the same intercontinental freedom, adding sake and sesame oil to take the yuzu daiquiri east of the Caribbean and give an Old-Fashioned a bright kick of pineapple.

Conjuring a jungle-escapist vibe, palm leaf patterns festoon banquettes, rattan lamp shades dangle over the bar, and a profusion of potted plants green the windowfront lounge. In keeping with her eco-sensibilities, Pearce upcycled as much as she could from the former River North tenant, Bohemian House, aiming to channel “a high-end eco-resort in Tulum” by relying on organic elements and sunny shades of paint.

“We love Chicago for so much of the year and it sucks in the winter,” she laughs. “This is the way we get to feel like we’re on vacation every day.” 11 W. Illinois St., 312.624.9276