Sweet Virginia’s Kitchen is all about homey eclectic food cooked from locally sourced ingredients. As a toddler, Angie Wines remembers sneaking eggs out from her grandmother’s fridge and cracking them on the sizzling pavement to fry them. Wines is now taking those mischievous roots and many years of culinary experience to open Sweet Virginia’s Kitchen in the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square neighborhood with her partner Anneliese Moy.
“The restaurant is named after my grandma, who is the reason why I cook,” Wines said. “I grew up standing next to her on a stool in the kitchen. She taught me all of our family recipes, both savory and sweet.”
Slated to open in November, Sweet Virginia’s Kitchen, located at 5131 N. Damen Ave., will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant will offer a menu derived from years of cooking for friends and families, including her signature meats and smoked pulled pork.
“I rub whole pork shoulders with a secret recipe that’s sweet and spicy. Using apple wood, I smoke it low and slow for 12 hours. This gives it a nice bark so it’s crunchy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. But the real magic happens just inside the bark, where the pink smoke ring occurs,” Wines said. Other items on the menu include chilaquiles, which features chips fried daily in house, sweet chipotle red salsa, eggs (which she promises not to fry on the pavement) and is topped off with crema, fresh avocado, cilantro, tomato, chives and limes. Spicy Asian meatballs and shrimp tacos with citrus slaw are also featured on the menu. Wines says she doesn’t want the restaurant to be pigeonholed into serving just one type of food.
Neighborhood joint, global comfort
“It’s an eclectic menu featuring comfort food from all corners of the world. At the core, it’s about making meals from scratch daily using ingredients from sources I trust,” Wines said. “Knowing where our food comes from is really important for me because I come from a family of farmers.” Many of the menu items are time-tested hits from Wines’ catering experience and annual tailgate party during Chicago’s Pride Parade. “We’ve been hosting these tailgate parties for six years. We started it for friends and family who were tired of battling the crowds and waiting in lines for food or a drink, and now it’s grown into a community of 150 people, ranging from teenagers to boomers, who don’t have to get up early to stake a space to see the parade,” Wines said.
This year, Wines used the tailgate party to pay tribute to the people killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. She created a memorial featuring photos and stories of the 49 people killed during the June 12 incident. “The project was to honor the victims and raise awareness about the fear and hatred toward the LGBTQ community,” Wines said. “For me, building a sense of community for others is really important.”
Feast for the eyes
Apart from creating a hub for comfort food, Wines will also be showcasing and selling her partner Anneliese’s pottery within the restaurant. “Having artwork inside the restaurant is also a nice reflection of my grandma, who created a lot of artwork herself, including drawings on her recipe cards, which will be displayed at the restaurant,” Wines said. “We’ll also be using Anneliese’s beautiful hand-made pottery to serve some of the food.” The restaurant will be a family affair with Wines creating all the dishes while Moy will manage the front of the house.
“We are really looking forward to creating a community gathering place through comfort food and art” Moy said. “We hope diners will feel the soul and effort Angie puts into each and every dish.”
Want to help us grow a family restaurant? Check out our Kickstarter campaign.
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