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JoJo’s Shake Bar (River North)

January 31, 2022

  • 23 W. Hubbard Street
  • Chicago, IL 60654
  • (312) 624-8963
  • Website
  • Menu

More ice cream! I mean, this was a celebration weekend and we were kind of going all out.

When we were in Chicago in July, we were looking for some kind of dessert after a meal at Centennial Crafted Beer + Eatery. I just did a Google search in the area and found a “shake bar.” I figured that’d be fun so we headed that way.

It would have been fun but it started raining really hard on us and there was quite a line outside. I didn’t realize it was a full service restaurant at the time. I just wanted shakes for the kids.

We passed on it that night but when we made plans to go back for L’s birthday in January, I snatched up reservations to make sure we’d get a chance at it this time.

JoJo’s Shake Bar has a couple of locations in Chicago. There’s soon to be one in Naperville and there’s a location in Water Tower Place that just does all the deserts.

The main JoJo’s location is in the River North neighborhood in Chicago on West Hubbard Street between State and Dearborn. The restaurant got started as JoJo’s Milk Bar in 2019. The name was changed to Shake Bar after Milk Bar, a bakery in New York, sued.

We got to the restaurant right as they were opening at 11 AM. We didn’t know it but we would have been fine without reservations this time. We were the only ones in the dining room which really isn’t all that big. The part that we could see was pretty much just a long hallway by the bar. We were taken all the way down this hallway past the bar and seated in a booth. The menus were QR codes on the table but they have some specials on a printed card waiting among the basket of wrapped silverware.

During the pandemic last year, JoJo’s expanded into a parking lot next to the building so they could have outdoor dining. Right now, that’s being used as their “Winter Wonderland.” There’s an extra $10 charge to be seated outside. We may have done it but it wasn’t open for lunch on this particular Saturday.

The decor of the place is “fun.” It is a dessert bar with over the top shakes so it’s not out of the ordinary for the atmosphere to reflect that. On one side, the exposed brick walls of this older downtown Chicago building are painted white to give artists a blank canvas. The other side has been painted black so the bubble lettering and bright colors pop all around.

We walked in to JoJo’s expected to eat a big lunch. Our plans (which would later get changed) had us going ice skating at Maggie Daley Park at 5:00 so we figured we would grab a pizza or something quick after that. Lunch would need to keep us satisfied through most of the day.

The menu isn’t overly complicated and in fact, features a lot of pub favorites. I ordered the Smash Burger. This simple yet delicious burger is two beef patties, American cheese, zip sauce, lettuce and pickle on a Sesame seed Brioche bun. The burger oozed juices on to the lettuce and bun giving everything a slightly salty, beefy flavor. Outside of the bread, this burger came off as a delicious dive bar burger (that’s a good thing). The Brioche bun jazzed it up a little bit and was a reminder that we were in the middle of the city.

The sandwich comes a la carte so I added on some waffle fries. They were pretty simple but crispy, salty and delicious. The fries were an extra $4 but it was a pretty full plate and both J and I ate off it.

J’s pick for lunch was the Loaded Grilled Cheese. This not your average grilled cheese is a blend of five cheeses (menu doesn’t say which five), bacon, and roasted tomato on grilled challah. You know those Tik Toks people do where they pull cheese slowly and call it “satisfying?” Yeah, this was that kind of grilled cheese…with a little crispy bacon mixed in for good measure. She added on a bowl of tomato soup instead of getting fries because most people (not me) can’t have grilled cheese without tomato soup.

We knew the kids were going to go crazy with the shakes but we wanted to get a little something in their bellies that wasn’t sweets. L just ate a side salad. A simple side salad with ranch. She didn’t want anything on it other than ranch and the carrots that come mixed in with the iceberg lettuce.

B picked the Kids Grilled Cheese. This sandwich was a lot like J’s but without all the fanciness. To our surprise, he plowed his way through the sandwich leaving only the crust on one of the triangles and a couple bites plus the crust on the other.

Now for the fun stuff. The shakes.

To say these shakes are over the top is an understatement.

The ladies ordered the Love Shake which is their Valentine’s Day special. The shake itself is red velvet raspberry ice cream topped with a (large) sugar cookie, a slice of cheesecake on a Graham cracker, a raspberry drizzle, a chocolate covered strawberry, and a chocolate covered pretzel. If that sounds like a lot….it is…and every single piece was delicious. J took the slice of cheesecake off for her and I to split. L went mostly for the shake but we all took a little bit of all the pieces. Each piece on it’s own is worth talking about but all put together in one glass….wow. We also mentioned to our waiter that it was L’s birthday so he brought a candle for her to blow out.

B and I ordered the Wonder Years shake. This one is supposed to be made with blueberry ice cream but I asked if we could just keep it simple and use vanilla. The shake is topped with a large marshmallow covered in candy, gummy ribbon candy, and two big handfuls of cotton candy. I let B go to town on all the candy because I know that’s his thing. Anything gummy and all forms of cotton candy are his favorite. We weren’t really worried about trying to control how much sugar everyone was eating. This was supposed to be a fun outing and it definitely was.

J and I both got actual drinks to go along with our meals as well. I was gonna order something called a “Chicago Handshake” (look it up…my explanation couldn’t do it justice) but I just stuck to a Pepsi. J ordered a Champagne Sangria.

Our bill for all of that food was just under $100. There is a 18% service charge automatically included so that brought the total up to just under $120. I tipped another $5 on top of that just to make it an even $125.

JoJo’s Shake Bar is something else. I would definitely go there again both for the food and for the sweet treats. The night before this meal we ate at Sugar Factory just a few blocks away and I said in that blog post you were really paying for an experience. I don’t feel like that’s the case with JoJo’s. I was happy with our meals as well as the experience.

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