Co-op Hot Sauce

My first dining experience at BYOB restaurant, Treat, in Logan Square was also officially my last. The laid-back restaurant shut its doors this past weekend after five successful years of serving up a Indian-inspired, global menu of dishes like chicken tikka masala, panko-crusted crabcakes, scallops and fall-off-the-bone Mint Creek Farm lamb chop to the neighborhood. I loved it.. I mean, where had it been all my life? More specifically the last five years when I never knew it was there. Alas, I did get to enjoy one of their last nights of dinner service with friends, when I was also introduced to another hidden local gem, Co-Op Hot Sauce. Seated next to me at the group table was the founder and hot-sauce “doctor” Mike Bancroft, who plunked down a bottle of original sauce when he sat down. While I have marveled at famous hot sauce collections before, I’ve never been a keep-the-fridge-stocked-with-Tabasco type, but I had to give the original, locally made, smoky formula a try, especially when a platter of golden, glistening fried calamari came to the table just waiting for a dousing. Turns out Co-Op was already used in a number of Treat recipes, but it was the smoky, dense and not too-spicy dipping sauce the calamari craved. Besides the original, Co-Op offers habañero spicy green or red jalapeño and other boldly flavored rubs and sauces made with ingredients grown in kid-run gardens on the West Side. And with proceeds going to help youth arts and community service initiatives in and around Humboldt Park, there’s no reason not to pick a bottle or three online, or watch for Co-Op at Whole Foods and Farmer’s Markets this summer.

Co-op hot sauce


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