Division Street has become the new hub of restaurant openings in the city. Just a few years back, there were very few spots anywhere near the intersection of Division & Damen. Now, there are some unbelievable options. One of the best is Takito Kitchen, on Division just a few yards west of Damen.
Located at 2013 West Division in Wicker Park, Takito Kitchen features Mexican-inspired cuisine but with a very distinctive and original focus. The food menu was created by Executive Chef/Partner David Dworshak and features seasonal shared plates, ceviche, tacos, soups and more with a focus on fresh ingredients and complex flavors, all tucked inside a tasty homemade soft tortilla.
According to Chef David, “Our food is seasonal and will support local farmers and producers. Our main focus of artisanal tacos lends itself to endless possibilities of ingredients, accompaniments and salsas. Aside from tacos, our plates are intended for sharing, geared towards a more creative and healthier style of Latin American food.”
I was recently invited to bring a friend and sample their extensive menu. We left super full, but definitely satisfied. This is not a “typical” Mexican restaurant. Rather, the menu is Mexican-inspired but with great ingenuity and flair. Rather than the “tortilla and salsa” drill that is so popular in most Mexican spots, Takito Kitchen offers homemade Masa Crackers and a series of seasonal, fresh salsas including savory options such as Tomatillo Pistachio (tomatillo, roasted onions, roasted garlic, pistachio, roasted serrano chile, arugula, cilantro), Tomato Hibiscus Ghost Pepper (tomato, onions, garlic, hibiscus tea, ghost pepper, cilantro) or Avocado Pine Nut Purée (pickled garlic, jalapeño, Urban Till cilantro).
For shared plates, don’t miss out on the Three Sisters Polenta (Brunkow cheddar, smoked bacon, pickled chilies, Urban Till cilantro). I grew up in South Carolina and this is the closest I have come in Chicago to finding anything like the cheesy grits my mother used to serve up on the weekends. My dining companion for this review was a vegetarian, so they offered us the option of having the bacon on the side. More for me! By the way, Takito has some excellent vegetarian options and a few vegan ones, and they are very happy to adjust anything to accommodate both eating lifestyles.
Of course, you can’t visit a restaurant called “Takito” without having tacos, can you? If you do nothing else on your visit, treat yourself to some of their incredible taco creations. We sampled several, including the following:
- Crispy Fish (hibiscus tortilla, carrot jalapeño slaw, coconut custard, Urban Till basil)
- Maple Creek Pork Belly (sesame tortilla, morita salsa, Oaxacan cheese, pickled onions, Urban Till arugula)
- Lamb Chorizo (corn tortilla, Brunkow cheese, tomatillo, pistachio salsa, jicama escabeche)
- Grilled Brunkow Cheese (corn tortilla, morita salsa, chayote, kale, peanuts, sofrito)
- Vegan (corn tortilla, roasted veggies, avocado, morita salsa, sesame, arugula)
Takito Kitchen recently added an excellent lunch special. Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. you can order a $12 special which includes an order of tacos, Smoked Tomato Rice, and Escabeche Salad. Pick your favorite taco and enjoy this awesome special.
But wait . . . there’s more! Takito Kitchen has a superb beverage program led by GM/Partner Adam Weber. Their cocktail menu is extensive and quite unique. Many of these offerings shift seasonally to keep up with their focus on freshness and local ingredients. If you happen to visit in March or early April, blood oranges should still be in season. You should definitely order the seasonal Blood Orange Margarita. Yum!
The space is industrial and modern featuring an open bar and kitchen and offers seating for approximately 80 people. Designed by D+K Architects and Interiors, the room includes an old skylight, long-cement bar, handcrafted maple benches, distressed cedar wood tattered with ebony stains, street art by local Chicago graffiti artists, and custom antique-style lighting.
All in all, this is an excellent and slightly funky addition to the growing restaurant scene in the vicinity of Division/Damen. Takito Kitchen is definitely worth a visit, but be sure to make a reservation. They get slammed, particularly on the weekends. They also offer a texting option for walk-ins, where they record your name and phone number if a table is not available and send you a text message when a table becomes available.
Takito is located at 2013 West Division Street in Chicago. They are open Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. They are closed on Mondays.
Photos courtesy of Takito.