A Luxe Mediterranean Lounge Brings Lebanese Cuisine and Cocktails to River North

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Decadent lamps and feathers fill the dining room at Mya by Medi. Ryan Beshel/Mya by Medi

Mya by Medi is a sister spot to family-friendly restaurant Medi in Lincoln Park

Three years after the debut of stylish and family-friendly Lebanese restaurant Medi in Lincoln Park, its ambitious owners have unveiled an upscale sister lounge that leans into a resurgence in Downtown nightlife. Mya by Medi, a chic Mediterranean dining and drinking spot featuring live belly dancers and fire performers on weekends, is open at 311 W. Chicago Avenue.

Medi’s emphasis on Lebanese cuisine and aesthetics extends to Mya, but the atmosphere is markedly different. “Everyone goes to Medi for comfort and family,” says owner Paul Alqas. “Mya is more of a night out with dinner, cocktails, and entertainment.”

A low-lit lounge with dark green half-circle booths.
Owner Paul Alqas designed the lounge’s Art Deco-meets-Mediterranean aesthetic.
Ryan Beshel/Mya by Medi

Alqas opened Medi in 2021 with business partner Elias Younan, whose father, Hermiz Younan, founded shuttered Lebanese favorite Kan Zaman in Andersonville. Hermiz Younan now helms the Lincoln Park kitchen with wife Helene Younan, but their homey style of cooking wasn’t the right fit for Mya. Instead, he’s tapped executive chef Alexander Willis, a Lebanese American who has worked at Dusek’s, Mordecai, and Soul & Smoke.

Willis’s combination of personal and professional experience has resulted in a menu that places Lebanese ingredients and flavors in a new context. Mezze options include grilled octopus, which is sous vide for 24 hours and served with black tahini remoulade and preserved lemon chili crisp, as well as deep-fried potato bureka and seasonal pickles made on-site. A trio of pasta options includes babaganoush-stuffed ravioli (pasta shapes are subject to change) with braised lamb alongside entrees such as lamb shank shawarma with black garlic toum and red zhoug.

Mya’s menu is an ever-evolving project, says Alqas. He and his team audit their sales each month to identify the least popular items, dropping one or two older submissions and adding fresh entries every 30 to 60 days. Willis and his team are also mindful of seasonality and want to make sure diners have new dishes to discuss (and ideally, post to social media).

That same rotation practice extends to the bar menu, which Willis developed with local jack-of-all-trades Bismark Vega. Cocktails are a key component in Mya’s identity with aesthetically striking drinks like Smoke Show (mezcal, basil syrup, lime, Ancho Reyes Verde), which is immersed in smoke under a glass bell jar, as well as Watermelon Sugar (Titos, watermelon cordial, Mavi Apertivo, grenadine) and the foam-capped Cyprus Sour (Sapphire Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, egg white). The team also serve wines by the glass from all over the Mediterranean and there’s a reserve list of pricier bottles.

A row of bar tables and pink plush stools.
The lounge seats 80 inside.
Ryan Beshel/Mya by Medi

In addition to his ownership duties, Alqas (previously of boozy bakery Donut Slut) also filled the role of interior designer at the 80-seat lounge, seeking to weave together Art Deco elements and Mediterranean style. A fan of pampas feathers, he spent around 48 hours installing individual feathers on light fixtures, and the fluffy plumes appear throughout the space. Bold printed wallpaper juxtaposes against ornate Moroccan-style chandeliers, and there’s a private dining room with enormous sliding doors imported from Mexico. Workers are currently setting up heating and cooling for a back patio, which will seat 20.

On Fridays and Saturdays, Mya ups the ante with live shows from performers who belly dance and do fire tricks, including donning a lit candelabra and moving through the lounge. These presentations kick off around 10 p.m. with an act every 20 to 30 minutes. “It’s a layer that adds to the ambiance and makes it very sexy and elegant,” Alqas says. “It’s something that everybody appreciates.”

Mya by Medi, 311 W. Chicago Avenue, Open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Reservations available via OpenTable.

Mya by Medi

311 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654 872-299-3063 Visit Website

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