Almost precisely a year ago, proprietors Anan Abu-Taleb and his son Paul Abu-Taleb announced the closure of Monnie Burke's, a superb (three stars from me) Pilsen restaurant with one of the city's most pleasant outdoor patios.

“Despite our faith in Monnie Burke's quality, we did not believe the notion was sustainable,” Paul Abu-Taleb explained. “I believe we fell short of the mark with Monnie's, but we were invested in the community and neighborhood; we're here to stay. As a result, we shuffled the deck and collaborated with our team to create something that we believe will hit all the appropriate notes.”

Thus is born Pilsen Yards (1163 West 18th Street), which is scheduled to debut on January 15. Along with a moniker that pays homage to the neighborhood, the restaurant will strive for a casual vibe, aided by beverage director Lance Bowman's superb cocktail credentials.

At Pilsen Yards, the patio features a radiant heat floor and overhead heaters. The roof is clad in clear polycarbonate panels to keep out the cold while allowing light to enter, however the ends are left open to comply with city coronavirus rules.

The menu will transition from Monnie Burke's contemporary American cuisine to more casual Mexican fare; this is a natural transition for the Abu-Talebs, who have owned Maya del Sol in Oak Park for nearly 14 years; additionally, the chef is Armando Gonzalez, who co-founded the highly regarded Libertad in Skokie and opened the three-year-old Amerikas restaurant in Oak Park (which Gonzalez still owns).

The menu will feature a selection of tacos, ceviches, and carne asada (at $21, the most expensive item on the menu), as well as chef-inspired dishes like carrots al pastor (with charred pineapple and lime) and a vegan pozole. Coliflor, a stunning roasted vegetable platter that was one of my favorite dishes at Amerikas, is also available at Pilsen Yards.

The 198-seat landscaped patio was already in situ, complete with a radiant-heated concrete surface, light strings, and a fire pit, but the family upped the ante by enveloping the space with clear polycarbonate panels supported by roof trusses. Overhead heaters, in conjunction with heated floors, help sustain warmer temperatures in areas exposed to the elements on the east and south ends.

“We were doubtful about the impact of the floor, but we haven't seen a day below 60 since,” Abu-Taleb added. We examined (the roof) to ensure that we could securely open for the winter, but we didn't want to sacrifice the sky. We want people to feel as though they are outside; we want them to stroll out there and not notice the roof.”

The interior has been remodeled in anticipation of the eventual return of indoor eating to Chicago. The Alderman is a space-within-a-space, a 16-seat lounge focusing entirely on cocktails (no food service).

“I'm eagerly awaiting the opening of that,” Abu-Taleb stated. “We've long desired a moody cocktail idea, and Lance is one of the city's most accomplished mixologists. He astounds me; the cocktails are ridiculously good.”