I Remember My First Tomato | Chicago Tapas Restaurant
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I Remember My First Tomato

I Remember My First Tomato
There is a moment when someone unfolds the seams of the wax-covered wrapper on their drive-through Whopper. The motivation for the moment probably varies for everyone: fuel for a busy day, anticipation of a comforting meal after a stressful week, ease of appeasing a brood of high-octane children. Whatever a person’s reason- the simplicity and familiarity of large-scale food production is oftentimes appealing. However, when that wrapper unveils the humble golden bun on top of a singularly languid beef patty and an equally paper-esque tomato slice all of the grandiose visions of satisfaction will subside.

Imagine a different scenario. An occasion where someone’s habit of using food as a means-to-an-end concludes with that diner’s newfound enthusiasm for the unexpectedly-thick tomato wedge on their grass-fed beef burger. Imagine that the tomato is juicier than the meat patty that it’s supposed to accentuate. Imagine that the lettuce options are thick and sweet leaves of seasonal butter lettuce. How quickly one’s determination to eat for the sake of living can turn into one’s passion for living to eat.

Mercat does not venture to change anyone or everyone’s relationship with food. What we hope to do is create an alternative to the more universal food havens. Mercat is working with local farmers, ranchers, gardeners and even bee farmers to create an environment where every diner will connect with what’s on their plate. Of course it’s fun to play around with the visually appealing elements, but no ingredient would be possible without the efforts of our food shepherds.

This summer, Mercat has sourced a majority of its ingredients within a 2 hour radius. What makes our kitchen unique is that we are still maintaining authenticity to a culinary hub that is over 4,000 miles away, all the while sourcing ingredients that are less than 300 miles apart.

Why the focus on locale? Well, if we want to share the best of Spanish tapas we don’t want cardboard tomatoes or the same pork that you eat as bacon in your local diner. We look for flavors that are more true to the ingredients that you will find local to Spanish diners. We are pushing the traditions of Spain from the shores of Lake Michigan.

We want to thank all of our purveyors for providing us with the best ingredients within our culinary neighborhood:

Urban Till
Mighty Vine
Blue Island Organic
Nichol’s Farm
Mick Klug Farm
Gunthorp Farms