Poke Joints Are Taking Over Chicago & We're Not Complaining, Yet

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 11, 2017 2:30PM

Aloha Poke. Photo via Facebook.

Just Tuesday, I reported that FireFin Poke was opening a new location in Wicker Park, with five Chicago locations currently planned. In that piece, I quipped: "Poke shops are already the donut shops of 2017; when will the inevitable crash come?" Apparently, the answer is "Not yet."

Eater Chicago reports that the other big Chicago poke chain, Aloha Poke, will open fourteen (!) new locations by the end of 2017. One of them won't be in Chicago, but that means that, combined with their four current locations (Lakeview, Evanston, Revival Food Hall and the French Market) there will be 17 different Aloha Pokes in Chicagoland. Their investors must have some seriously deep pockets to expand that fast.

Is this a trendy bubble heading for a bursting? Or does it simply reflect a change in the way fast casual food is consumed, with diners demanding healthy, high-protein, fresh options instead of fried junk food? Ask me in a year, when I'll present "The Ultimate Guide to Every Poke Shop in Chicago." If it's got more than 20 spots on it, poke is here to stay.