Stephanie Izard feels the new location of her Little Goat Diner, which is moving off Randolph Restaurant Row to a quainter location in Lakeview, sharing the building with Boka Restaurant Group siblings GG’s Chicken Shop and Itoko, will feel more like a traditional diner.
“The name ‘Little Goat’ wasn’t a true name for it,” Izard says. “It was really the ‘Supersized Goat.’”
There’s no set definition for a diner, especially as American cuisine diverges from those halcyon memories of bacon, coffee, and patty melts. All of those staples are available at Izard’s new restaurant. But the original Little Goat, which opened in December 2012, competed with trendy West Loop restaurants and had to stick out. It served a breakfast burrito that eschewed a tortilla for an Indian paratha, a savory pie with goat, and hot crab dip. The dining room was cavernous with trippy wallpaper that concealed the entrance to the restrooms. It didn’t exactly feel like the type of roadside oasis the protagonists of a movie or TV show would happen to find on their way to find the MacGuffin.
“To me, a diner is just a restaurant where people in the neighborhood could order whatever meal you’re in the mood for,” Izard says.
Little Goat 2.0 — yes, Chicago diners are seeing several 2.0s lately (including old friend Won Kim’s Kimski) — will debut on Tuesday, April 18 in the former Southport Lanes space. Boka has remodeled the historic building to create room for three restaurants and Little Goat is the final phase of the project along Southport and Henderson. There’s no spinning goat sign on top like on Randolph, and there’s no rooftop terrace for pop-ups. Lakeview’s a cozier space versus West Loop with 40 seats, and another 40 outdoors. The coffee’s from Big Shoulders. They’ll serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner right off the bat. That’s truly an impressive feat given how hard restaurant owners say it is to find workers. Izard says they retained about 80 percent of the staff from the original iteration.
Breakfast will be available all day. There’s a pancake section on the menu with four selections including a Fat Elvis and chocolate chip. Izard says they’re never serving waffles again; there were too many waffle iron mishaps. The menu rounds out with a snack and sandwich sections. The latter will include a pork belly sandwich with fried sweet potatoes, pickled slaw, and a miso garlic caper mayo. The sandwich, on a ciabatta roll, uses the same red-glazed meat Izard’s Chinese restaurant, Duck Duck Goat, serves in Fulton Market. They’ll add dinner specials later.
One of Izard’s sleeper hits, if the former Top Chef champion can consider any of her restaurants as under the radar, was Sugargoat, the bakery attached to Little Goat. Some treats — scones, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and items like the chocolate Fry Pie — will be available at Little Goat. They’ll also have soft-serve ice cream. But Izard has grander plans for Sugargoat’s return.
There’s also a grab-and-go operation with breakfast sandwiches. The Little Goat is working on a breakfast burger that uses maple sausage patties with American cheese, french fries, and bacon jam, on a brioche bun. Third-party delivery will eventually be available.
“I’m actively looking for a space to bring it back,” she says. “I’d like to attach a speakeasy bar; that’s my goal.”
This would be Izard’s first bar. The atmosphere would be laid back, and while she didn’t fuel the fire for speculation, imagining cocktails that pair with Izard’s desserts isn’t hard. Perhaps she could even recruit Goose Island Beer Co. and provide pairings for its famed Bourbon County Brand Stouts. Izard’s catering company already works with Goose to provide food service at its private event space, the Goose Island Barrelhouse. Izard says the bar could possibly have shuffleboard or darts.
Little Goat Diner, 3325 N. Southport, planned for a Tuesday, April 18 opening.