By J.P. Anderson By J.P. Anderson | August 31, 2022 | Food & Drink
After major success with the Hampton Social, Brad Parker turns his expert eye to the Mediterranean, unveiling the Fulton Market District's hottest new destination: Nisos.
Among the tempting options at Nisos, red snapper with fregola, saffron and fennel blossoms is a standout.
With eight locations in Chicagoland, Nashville and Florida, Parker Hospitality’s breezy Hampton Social concept has found huge success with its “rosé all day” vibes, coastal cuisine and nautical-cool ambiance. But don’t pigeonhole founder and CEO Brad Parker as a one-concept wonder: Now, the entrepreneur is pivoting in a new direction with Nisos, a just-opened Greek restaurant at the epicenter of Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row.
The dining room at Nisos boasts a sunny Mediterranean vibe.
“Ever since I first visited Greece in 2015,” explains Parker, “a goal of mine has been to create one of the best fine dining Mediterranean restaurants this country has ever seen.”
Athens-born chef Avgeria Stapaki leads the kitchen.
Admittedly, Parker isn’t the first to the Mediterranean table, as contemporary Greek cuisine has blown up in Chicago in the past few years, from Avli and Andros to DineAmic Hospitality’s recently opened Lyra just a few blocks away. So how does Parker plan to stand out? Two words: Avgeria Stapaki. Says Parker, “When I met chef Stapaki six years ago, I knew that I had found the missing piece to [create an extraordinary restaurant]. What she can do in a kitchen is pure magic, and that is exactly what makes us different from other Mediterranean restaurants: It’s our soul. Nisos has taken six years to come to life—that’s six years of trips to Greece, six years of soulful conversations about our philosophy, importing incredibly rare and unique ingredients, curating the Nisos experience and designing our interior. I don’t think that many other brands have had the opportunity to put that much thought, effort and authenticity into perfecting a concept, and I feel very fortunate to have had the time to do just that.”
Moussaka with potato strings, Gruyere foam and cinnamon tea
As for the Athens-born Stapaki’s vision of the menu, guests can expect fresh, seasonal Mediterranean fare with a foundation in Greek tradition—and an elevated style befitting Stapaki’s experience in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants: moussaka with potato strings, Gruyere foam and cinnamon tea; sea bream ceviche with watermelon and roasted peppers (“It’s so fresh and bright I could eat it every day,” raves Stapaki); lobster with orzo and herbs; and sea bass served salt-crusted, grilled or sashimi-style. The cocktail program’s no throwaway either; created by award-winning Athens-based cocktail bar 7 Jokers (whose owner, Spiros Anagnostou, happens to be pals with Stapaki), the menu is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, with libations like Lotus Eaters (a rum-based twist on the classic zombie) and Sirens (apple- and cranberry-infused gin, strawberry, Greek honey and citrus).
The cocktail program was created by world-famous Greek bar 7 Jokers
Hampton Social has proven Parker’s a whiz at setting a scene, and it’s an equally stylish story here: The bilevel, 150-seat space exudes a clean, sunny, relaxed Greek feel and is rife with organic touches like an undulating stone wall and a floor-to-ceiling sculpture of woven willow branches by Ravenswood Studio. Add it all up, and it looks like Brad Parker and company have another hit on their hands. 802 W. Randolph St.
Photography by: PHOTOS BY ANTHONY TAHLIER