WICKER PARK — A Mexican cuisine-inspired restaurant specializing in tacos and craft cocktails plans to open Wednesday on a busy stretch of Division Street just west of Damen Avenue.
"Division [Street] is pretty bar heavy. We want to bring a solid presence of food and be known as a restaurant with a bar, not a bar that makes food," said chef David Dworshak, 36.
To accomplish this, Dworshak, who previously worked at Carnivale and Spring Restaurant, said he's created a "very affordable" taco-centric menu that uses made-from-scratch tortillas infused with hibiscus and sesame seeds and ingredients from local farms.
Located at 2013 W. Division St. in a long narrow space that was formerly home to a French-Latin restaurant Sabor Saveur, Takito Kitchen's menu is divided into Shared Starters, Tacos, Shared More (entrees) and Sweets.
A half dozen tacos, which are served in portions of three per order and cost around $12, run the gamut from crispy redfish with carrot jalapeno slaw to pork belly, shredded chicken and lamb chorizo.
Appetizers include Three Sisters Polenta, using ingredients from Three Sisters Farm; roasted cauliflower with pickled squash and fresh mozzarella cheese; and an "Adult Fruit Cup," made of tequila-soaked fruit.
The vegetarian-friendly Grilled Brunkow Cheese tacos feature cheese from Wisconsin's Brunkow Cheese along with kale, peanuts, salsa and slices of chayote, a fruit native to Mexico that is similar to a summer squash.
In addition to tacos, a range of salsa varieties include tomatillo-pistachio, red pepper (with cucumber and basil) and hibiscus with uber-hot ghost peppers will be served with crispy cornmeal masa crackers.
For those diners not interested in tacos, Takito Kitchen offers two entrees of prime sirloin and seared scallops that will "max out at $16," said Dworshak.
For dessert, there's Mexican chocolate ganache topped with coffee crema, brandied cherries and almond masa crisp as well as caramel rice pudding.
To wash everything down, mixologist Adam Weber created three varieties of 'Tako-Ritas," such as a cucumber margarita, as well as creatively-named specialty cocktails like "Montazuma's Chalice," which uses chartreuse, Sherry, and Maestro Dobel tequila.
While Takito Kitchen's name is the phonetic version of "taquito," derived from Spanish, partner-owner Mario Ponce from restaurant consultant Partners in Hospitality said he thought it would be fun to "spell it as it sounds."
Ponce and operating partner Anshul Mangal signed a lease in November and built out the space in under five months with the help of D + K architects.
A 50-foot cement bar runs along one side of the restaurant while on the opposite side, there are long bench seats and handcrafted Maplewood tables.
The narrow dining space can accommodate around 75 patrons and features saloon-style mirrors on exposed brick and leads to a large backroom with a bright graffiti mural on the wall bearing Takito's logo and plenty of natural light pouring in through a skylight.
Ponce confirmed that a sidewalk patio is planned for when warmer weather arrives.
Takito Kitchen is located at 2013 W. Division St. The phone number is 773- 687-9620. Hours are 5 p.m. until late Tuesday- Sunday. Closed on Mondays.