Nacional 27 is an iconic Latin American spot in River North that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Known for a menu that’s representative of all 27 Latin countries, salsa dancing and cocktails, Nacional is excited to not only welcoming a new chef, but also a new menu AND new dining room look!
Meet our New Executive Chef Cory Morris.
Chef Cory Morris’ extensive travels to Spain, Argentina and Portugal have influenced his cooking style and inspired dishes in some of Chicago’s top restaurants including Mercat a la Planxa, where he worked closely with Iron Chef Jose Garces, Rural Society, Ronero and Boleo.
“My passion for Latin cuisine started when I worked for my mentor, Chef Jose Garces. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about Spanish, Argentinian, Costa Rican and Peruvian cuisine,” says Chef Cory Morris.“From Argentinian wood-fire cooking to Peruvian street food, it’s all prepared me for this opportunity at Nacional 27. I’m excited to influence the menu with my own style, while honoring the legacy of this restaurant.”
Nacional 27 has always focused on bold flavors and Chef Cory’s new dishes will follow suit, utilizing ingredients from small, specialized purveyors including unique vinegars, aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chile pepper), aji panca (Peruvian red pepper) and papa seca (Peruvian dried potatoes). Guests can also expect playful combinations of comfort food like Roasted Chicken Arroz, prepared with Calasparra Rice from Murcia, Spain, free-range Amish chicken, Portuguese-style sofrito and heirloom carrots, as well as a menu that changes with the seasons.
“Cuisine from certain Latin American countries lend themselves to particular seasons. For example, dishes from Argentina tend to be heartier and more meat focused and best in colder months, while Peruvian cuisine highlights seafood and ceviche, perfect for summer.”
Here are a few of Chef Cory’s favorite dishes, including one that proved to be a winner on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.
Steak Empanada with braised Ropa Vieja flank steak, red pepper and green olive chimichurri
“Ropa vieja (shredded, stewed beef with vegetables) is one of my all time favorite Cuban dishes to cook. I even had the chance to cook it against Iron Chef Bobby Flay and ended up beating him on his show, Beat Bobby Flay.”
Chicken Croquette made with crispy Aji Gallina chicken, walnut, aji amarillo and parmesan
“This is a traditional dish from Peru that consists of a creamy chicken stew accented with spicy aji amarillo chilies and toasted walnuts. I decided to modernize this into a crispy croquette and in one bite you get a taste of Peruvian/French Creole flavors.”
Garlic Shrimp: Gambas al ajillo, chili, aioli, baguette
“Garlic Shrimp is a simple classic from one of my favorite culinary destinations, Spain. At Nacional, we serve it with a side of grilled bread brushed aioli.”
10 Oz. Pork Chop: Chuleta, abobo, mango salsa and grilled lime
“Our pork chop incorporates Mexican ingredients. It’s marinated overnight in a mild adobo paste then cooked on the grill and topped with mango salsa, served alongside blistered shishito peppers.”
Roasted Chicken Arroz: Bomba arroz con pollo, chicken sausage, aioli, heirloom carrots and green peas.
“Think ultimate comfort food dishes! Because the dish focuses on simple ingredients it’s important to use the best. The rice is a Calasparra Rice from Murcia, Spain that’s traditionally used for paella topped with free-range Amish chicken, Portuguese-style sofrito and heirloom carrots.”
Yucca Fries: crispy yucca, chili garlic oil, lime and spicy aioli
“Yucca is one of my favorite root vegetables to cook. They grow all over Latin America and I think they make the best fries because when prepared properly, they are crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle.”
And for dessert…
Flan: Tres leches, lime pastel, mango and shortbread
“Our flan uses the same three milks commonly seen in a tres leches. Its finished with a lime shortbread, mango sauce, and sponge cake that’s been soaked in a lime simple syrup.”
Rice pudding: Coconut arroz con leche, purple corn jello, pineapple and toasted almonds
“This Peruvian dessert is a vegan rice pudding made with coconut milk and vanilla. The most interesting part of the dish is the purple corn jelly, which is dried purple corn simmered with cinnamon, clove, lime, pineapple rind, sugar and water. The dish all comes together with toasted almonds and diced pineapple.”
Enjoy Chef Cory’s menu in the renovated dining room at Nacional 27 designed by our very own Lettuce Entertain You design team. Inspired by the culture of Central and South America, the room is complete with modern chandeliers, plush leather booths and an array of tropical palms that will transport guests to the southern hemisphere.
Nacional 27 is located at 325 W. Huron St. in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The restaurant is open Wednesday – Thursday from 6 PM – 9:30PM and Friday and Saturday from 6 PM – 11PM. The Vida 27 Danceclub is open Friday from 11 PM – 2PM and Saturday 11 PM – 3AM. Follow us @nacional27 to learn about new menu items, specials and more. To make a reservation visit nacional27chicago.com or call 312-664-2727.