When I was in college, I rarely told people that I grew up in Indianapolis. Then my fam moved to NOVA, and I was quick to rep a city that had Go-Go and crack far above a city that featured the Indy 500. But alas, things change. People change. After my pseudo-exodus from Indy, a southern mom-and-pop joint opened up two locations in downtown Indianapolis called Yats; transforming the “Capitol of Conventions” into a neo-Bourbon street. Soon after, I made the pilgrimage back to Nap-Town. I tasted Yats and yucked it up like some fat mom jokes.
But hey, hold that gas money or Megabus fare playa, because a few weeks ago, the cajun crazies appeared in the West Loop.
Don’t let the location fool you…this is a restaurant built for the common man who likes to throw some chilies into the bowl called life every now and again. Half orders are $4.50, full plates are $5.50, and its $6.50 for any combination. There are no printed menus because the shit changes up everyday.
I didn’t catch Joe Vuskovich-the New Orleans owner/restauranteer-up in the fray, but he has effectively infused classic Southern hospitality with Midwestern corn values. A kat called Nate greeted me promptly as I finished pouring my Country Time Lemonade via fountain, showing me love for rollin thru. Wall decor was plentiful but the room still felt bare. It musta been a lack of sweat filled groans of pleasure that I am used to experiencing at the Indy locations. Soon come dough.
Enough non-food talk, peepith:
Above, we have the round robin shot by my boy drooo (a Nap-Town transplant who co-signs on the goodness). The plates-of-Yat clockwise: B&B, White Chili w/ Cheese (sour cream added), Pazole Stew, Curry Mushroom Ettoufee, Ropa Vieja (behind the Sriracha), Chicken Maque Choux, and Chili Cheese Ettoufee w/ crawfish.
It ain’t no muhfuckin fire drill at Yats; these kids slang flavors like Sysco Foods slangs frozen buffalo wings. Every flavor in the dish is clean, not muddled. Cajun spices are balanced by layering at various stages during creation of the dish which yields a flow of flavors. Taking a bite of a Yats dish is much like slamming the last bowl from a box of Count Chocula. You get the marshmallows AND the toy. Any haters out there that think its not possible to have that cake and eat it too? Well, its time for you to step the fuck off.
And now we gon get all up in Yats’ personal:
I call this my “Trio of Glory Laced in Styrofoam.” I ripped through the containers like it was Christmas ’83, trying to get at what was lofting behind the wrap. The Chicken Maque Choux ended up taking gold. Listen, I don’t eat corn. I consider it a waist of time for my bicuspids to chew something that is going to come out with the same identity that it went in with. But these little yellow biddies were on some wow-me-now shit. The ettoufee was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy dankness which mentally transported me back to Indy and reminded me that there is more than corn in Indiana (and it is not at Indiana Beach).
Word is bond, this restaurant is going to blow like Mount St. Helens. Yes, it is BYO, and I am also told that delivery into Loop will begin shortly so you fools can get your corporate cajun on.
We’re going bless Yats with our gold placard of Solid Food Goldness, but unfortunately doesn’t exist yet, so hold tight Joe. Utmost props for creating a product and making that shit fucking correct. Lastly, a welcome to the fine city of Chicago. We can’t wait for January when you will electric blanket our cold souls.