The Dawson officially opens its doors in West Town tonight, positioning itself as an eatery that serves food and drinks inspired by Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Owners Billy Lawless of Henri and The Gage, and Topaz and Amber’s Branko Palikuca, join forces with chef Rene De Leon—whose pedigree includes powerhouses like Next and Alinea—to establish The Dawson as a culinary hotspot from the start.
Named for the Dawson Brothers Plant in West Town, the restaurant’s décor pays homage to the industrial revolution at the turn of last century, utilizing materials popular at the time, such as dungaree denim on the walls. Reclaimed timber and salvaged brick sourced locally bring the indoor-outdoor space together.
Food offerings also nod to the time period, but incorporate some of De Leon’s own favorites as well. There are comfort classics like chicken-fried New York strip and an East Coast oyster po’boy with coleslaw, but most of the dishes are entirely De Leon’s own. An ethnic spin on pigs in a blanket uses Mandarin pork wrapped in bao, while smoked beef tongue sliders include pickled jalapeno and grilled pineapple between Hawaiian bread.
The cocktail menu was intentionally crafted to complement the cuisine. One standout is the Liquid Swords, made with Yuzu sake, Kina L’Avion, chai green tea syrup, lemon, Prosecco, and orange bitters. The Dawson will also offer house-made sodas and shareable cocktails. 730 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-8955