It’s been decades since tiki bars were a big deal, but they’re back with a vengeance
From the black-and-white vintage snapshots on the walls, the retro stools and the regulars who pack them, Dove’s Luncheonette looks like it’s been around for 40 years. But Dove’s, in Chicago’s trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, from partners including chef Paul Kahan, who gained national attention and a James Beard award for haute date-night dinners at his acclaimed Blackbird restaurant, only recently opened.
Now, in the 41-stool diner, Kahan aims to marry the chef approach to everyday service, offering short-order dishes using seasonal, locally grown ingredients at the bargain end of the dining scale. A trip through the border region of Texas inspired Dove’s menu, which blends Southern and Mexican fare in dishes like buttermilk chicken fried with green chorizo gravy, smoked brisket tacos and a corn tamal with braised collard greens and scrambled eggs. Instead of weak coffee, the drinks menu touts tequila and mescal, with its signature Cantarito cocktail of tequila, fresh fruit juices and Squirt, served in a terra cotta ceramic mug. “Sometimes you want cerebral, beautiful food,” Kahan says, “and sometimes you want to hang out in your neighborhood diner.” –ELAINE GLUSAC