"Tropical" is one adjective that you will never, ever equate with "Chicago." The brutal winters tend to ruin that idea, and even the often muggy summers feel more like you're frying on the asphalt rather than basking in a tropical paradise. That's probably why this Caribbean South Loop
lounge calls itself "Utopia," because there are some days when the thought of living in, say, Kingston, where you can munch on jerk chicken and lay on the beach all day, sounds like a perfect existence.
Utopia offers every kind of typical entree marinated in Jamaican jerk spice – jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk wings, even jerk catfish - with all dishes served with rice, beans and Jamaican hard dough bread. Other exotic selections abound, dibi or yassa lamb (the latter marinated overnight), or brown stew chicken, stewed with brown Jamaican seasoning. For something a little more interactive, try the "Utopia Rock" option, which lets the customer cook the meal to their own preference.
Despite the extensive menu, Utopia's interior has more of a lounge feel than the typical dining experience, and a sizable stage area implies live entertainment from time to time. The colors of the room are dark and a bit moody, which doesn't exactly reinforce the "Caribbean" theme, instead emitting a little bit of a jazz vibe (nothing wrong with that). Oh, and there's outdoor seating for those rare occasions when the Chicago weather is borderline Utopia-like.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert