It looks like a diner. It calls itself a “luncheonette.” It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And coffee. But this isn’t your typical diner. (And if it is, you are a very lucky eater.)
Will and I—normally fuddy-duddy individuals who don't get much south of Andersonville for our dining—have found ourselves frequenting Wicker Park and Bucktown and Logan Square for our recent restaurant outings. The average age of other diners in these restaurants (Xoco in Wicker Park, Wasabi, Yusho, and now Dove’s Luncheonette) hover around 23—and it’s even that high only because occasionally there are others (like us) who leave their comfort zone to try new places.
Well, our verdict on Dove’s Luncheonette is a definite thumbs up. The atmosphere is relaxed—once you are able to get seated. (Otherwise, there really isn’t a great place to “wait” for seating.) The space is fairly small, with communal larger tables and then stool seating hugging walls, windows, and the bar. We luckily landed two spaces by the window and (dorkily) felt quite cool being able to see all the hip, young people with their bright futures spread out before them. Spaces around the impressive tequila bar (pictured above) seemed lively and fun as well.
Having done some research beforehand, we had a good sense of what we wanted to try. I have to say that I’m really glad I pushed us to order the potato and pepper hash (above). Potatoes were mashed and then fried such that the we got lots of surface area that got crispy. The slightly hot peppers—and only slightly hot, and nicely mellowed by the roasting—added a nice complement of soft to the potato’s crisp. A drizzle of creamy sauce and then chopped cilantro added just the right additional touches. This side is a definite winner.
Will was warned that the smoked brisket “taco” (above) was in fact ONE large taco—and it was! You got a large, thicker-than-usual flour tortilla with a fairly substantial slab of smoked brisket, tomatoes, avocados, and other condiments. His favorites were the chincharron pieces that topped the dish! Essentially, you use fork and knife to cut off pieces of tortilla and meat, and then make smaller taco bites from the whole tortilla.
We enjoyed my Pozole Rojo but also agree with some yelp posters that the temperature of the soup could have been hotter. Even without putting in the sides (tortillas chips, shredded cabbage, disks of radish, and avocado pieces—on the left of the picture above) the soup was not quite hot enough. So I had to make sure that I didn’t drop the temperature to merely tepid by putting in condiments too quickly. It was good, but I have had cheaper and more flavorful—and hot—pozole at mom-and-pop Mexican taco joints.
Though our meals were filling, we decided that we needed to order the famed Mexican Cholocate Crema pie mentioned in reviews (on both Chicago Reader and Yelp). It was a thick and fudgy and cinnamon-y concoction with a nice little cayenne pepper heat. If you like Mexican hot chocolate, you’ll enjoy this dark chocolate pie version (below) as well!
On the whole, it was a pleasant and relaxing experience with lots of good food. Typical diner? No. But, it’s the kind of diner we’d like around our own neighborhood.