The casual diner has southern and Mexican accents and a surprisingly extensive bar with an impressive list of tequila and mezcal.
Dove's Luncheonette is the kind of grown-up diner you want on a sunny morning in Wicker Park. With its full bar and ambitious kitchen, there is a lot to choose from. But a new chef is shaking things up a bit, with a menu that leans to both the southern U.S. as well as Mexico.
Mezcal and tequila-based cocktails with brunch? You bet. At Dove's Luncheonette, tucked beneath the Damen stop on the CTA Blue Line, it's brunch, lunch or dinner with a nod to the South.
"We are a Southern Tex-Mex diner, which sounds like a lot of different things going on at the same time but it actually makes a lot of sense. We just do South of the border twists on Southern food," said Chef Tom Carlin.
Sit at the front window and watch the world go by, as you dig into a Mexican-inspired seafood cocktail, mounded with sweet crab.
"It's got shrimp, squid, crab in a, like, a spicy tomato sauce. That's straightforward," said Carlin.
Or go heartier with a seared pork collar, set above a mound of creamed hominy and braised collard greens, seasoned with pasilla chiles, ham and citrus. The crowning touch: a crunchy garnish of pumpkin and sesame seeds, fried shallots and garlic and fresno chiles.
Even the pancake offers a unique twist.
"We get a cast iron pan really hot, put the batter inside of that; put a little bit of citrus or seasonal fruit or whatever is going on then, and then flip it halfway through baking, so you've got that fruit on the bottom," Carlin said.
Like barbecue? How about a Kansas City classic, like burnt ends. These tasty bits of brisket are combined with fried potatoes and creamy aioli, topped with queso fresco and scallions for a hearty morning hash.
"We use the rest of the brisket for our brisket taco at dinner," Carlin said. "We take the burnt end hash, with poblanos, we fry off some potatoes and toss it in a cheesy, spicy aioli, and build the dish from there."
But don't think that it's only about breakfast here. Carlin says you can sample his new menu from morning to night.
"We're open until 9 or 10 o'clock depending on the night, so people will come in here and definitely try some of the mezcals. We've got one of the best mezcal selections in the city," he said.
And in Steve's extra course video, he talks about the aguachile at Dove's, featuring a different type of seafood almost every day.
1545 N Damen Ave.