What is Vera?

What kind of restaurant is Vera? Maybe I should talk about what Vera isn't.  Vera is a small independent, family run restaurant/business. We are not part of a restaurant group, or chain, or franchise. Our resources are limited. We don't have fancy kitchen equipment. We don't have a cool modern design. We don't have a huge wine list with vertical listings of hard to get vintages. We don't have a big PR/marketing firm. I could go on about all the things we can't afford or things that are just not possible in a small independent restaurant. But what do we have? 


We have heart and soul. We have passion and enthusiasm.  We have a burining desire to make our guests happy with great service and delicious food prepared simply with no pretense. We have a small but carefully and lovingly put together wine list. Vera is our home. We spend more time at Vera than our home and we don't mind because it allows us to do what we love.  Recently we had a guest comment that as many times as they had been to Vera not once did they feel like they were in a restaurant,  they felt like they were in our home. That was the biggest compliment we could have ever received.  

We wanted to create a place where people could enjoy a nice dinner, enjoy each others company, and feel like they mattered. Remember those restaurants? It seems like a lot of them are going away. 

Vera is not trendy, or cool, I suppose. But we understand the meaning of hospitality.  We put the guests needs ahead of our own. We know that there are so many great restaurants in Chicago, so many options, and are grateful for each and every person that walks through our door. 


It's strawberry time here at Vera. We had our first delivery of strawberries this year from our friends at Mick Klug farm in St. Joseph Michigan. This year we are combing them with rhubarb for a somewhat non authentic but tasty version of an empanada. The filling is cream cheese, strawberries, and rhubarb jam we make ourselves. After the empanada is baked to a golden brown it is topped with more strawberries marinated with lemon, sugar, and oloroso sherry.  If you want the recipe just drop me a line, mark@verachicago.com. It's fairly simple but packs a wollop. 

It's time for..... Asparagus!

It's that time of year again, asparagus season has started. Every year we are excited for that first shipment of asparagus from Mick Klug farms in St. Joseph Michigan. I have been using Mick Klug asparagus for a long time and really don't like to use anything else, although I have on occasion. But the difference between Mick's asparagus and commodity asparagus is noticeable. Mick's asparagus is sweeter, firmer, and just plain delicious. This year, we are keeping it simple, cooking it on the flattop, and serving it with romesco sauce, manchego cheese, and topping it with a farm fresh egg. 

Let us help

When I started cooking i almost 30 years ago one of my primary goals, and still is, to fundamentally make people happy. Now as a chef/owner I see how important this is to keep our customers happy but also to engage in hospitality outside of the kitchen. One of my goals has always been to have the type of place where people come to dine because of the experience itself, not just the food and wine, but also warm service and a cozy and relaxed environment. Lately I have been thinking about how to extend the hospitality of Vera outside of the usual ways. So one of the things that occured to me was giving people the ability to ask whatever question they want, related to food or wine and I or my wife Elizabeth would do our best to answer you, no strings attached. I'm far from an expert on anything but have been cooking quite a long time and have learned quite a bit in that time. Elizabeth is also an award winning sommelier that also shares a passion for all things food and wine related. So if there is a question you have regarding food, cooking, recipes, whatever, feel free to shoot me an email and I will do my best to get you an answer within a day. Whether it's where to get that hard to find ingredient or how to make paella or what wine to drink with barbecue, all you have to do is ask. If you have any questions about our menu or want recipes don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Mark Mendez   mark@verachicago.com