WICKER PARK — A much-anticipated new restaurant and bar focusing on "unapologetic country cooking" in the form of Mississippi Delta-style red hot tamales and craft cocktails will open at 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the Delta's Eldridge Williams.
Located at 1745 W. North Avenue in Wicker Park, the Delta was three years in the making for the Memphis-raised Williams, whose father worked at a tamale factory when Williams was a child.
“Opening the Delta was my chance to showcase something that’s far bigger than food and beverage,” Williams said in a news release. “The Mississippi Delta is a region that was once responsible for most of the country's cotton supply. A region that impacted and shaped the civil rights movement. A region that’s a melting pot of African, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian cooking styles. A region that’s known for being the birthplace of the blues."
Formerly a manager at Girl & the Goat, Williams was the venue manager at the Promontory, a manager at Bangers & Lace, and a manager at several restaurants for The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group.
Joining Eldridge are Adam Wendt, executive chef/partner, previously the sous chef at Dusek’s Beer & Board, and Adam Kamin, a beverage director/partner who previously was the head bartender at Bottlefork and the beverage director at both Graham Elliot Bistro and Sprout.
Williams, Wendt, and Kamin took a weeklong research trip up and down the Mississippi Delta a few months ago to brainstorm ideas for the menu. It was there that the Delta's "BTW," an old fashioned cocktail made with bonded bourbon, beer-tea syrup and Angostura bitters came about.
Kamin said the drink was inspired by the fact most locals drank bourbon, sweetened iced tea and beer more than anything else, so he wanted to combine those beverages into a cocktail.
Wendt's tamales are simmered in a spicy broth (instead of being steamed) and are made from cornmeal instead of masa.
Wendt will serve traditional beef brisket red hot tamales in bundles of three for $5 and vegan red hot style tamales with spicy mushrooms that are also served in bundles of three for $6, plus four chef-driven red hot single large tamales that cost $7 to $11 and include a chicken tamale that mimics Mexican-style elotes.
There are eight large “Plates” on the opening menu. Highlights include “Gnudi” pasta made with white corn and house ricotta, grilled whole catfish sourced from Isola, Mississippi and “Chicken Livers Fried Rice” where the rice is fried in bacon fat with wild mushrooms, hen eggs, and garlic and then topped with soy sauce caramelized fried chicken livers, green onions and sesame seeds.
Kamin's drink menu offers 16 specialty cocktails in three categories — smashes, house cocktails and “Vases," the latter which are large-format cocktails, each containing about three drinks and served in vintage flower vases.
The Delta offers eight beers on draft and an additional eight in bottles and cans, including “Foggy Geezer” New England-style IPA from War Pigs by the brewers of Three Floyds and Mikkeller, and Mission Trail “Plum Jerkum," which is a cross between a cider and fruit wine.
A rotating $3 “Dime Store” beer offering will kick off with Old Style. Twelve wines (sparkling, rosé, white, red) are available by the glass, range from $8 to $13.
The Delta offers 27 seats at the bar area, 16 in a dining area, and 28 on a serene back patio.
"We have a responsibility to honor and respect the culture and history of the Mississippi Delta and showcase our interpretation of its true form: from the obvious like authentic Mississippi Red Hot Tamales and its rich music to more subtle nods like cocktail names that invoke history and décor accents that make you feel at home in our home," according to a statement from the Delta team.
For more information, visit the Delta’s website, call 773-360-1793, email email@example.com, or check out the spot via handles @thechicagodelta on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. Hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday and 4 p.m. - to 3 a.m. on Saturdays. Weekend brunch will start in a few weeks.