Constructing the Craft at The Dawson

Perfecting the customer experience as an “art,” The Dawson aims to celebrate the success of The Dawson Brothers , who once owned a 19th century fire-mantle plant nearby, with its high level of craftsmanship and artistic detail within its food and beverage program.

Located on the corner of Grand, Halsted, and Milwaukee and surrounded by commotion, the outside of the restaurant is not easily missed. However, once inside the giant wooden doors, you enter into a bi-level foyer with high ceilings, a giant wall of windows, and clear light fixture. Drawing inspiration from the area’s industrial past, the space is made up of reclaimed wood, salvaged brick, and exposed steel. From the downstairs parlor, to its grand staircase, to the upstairs lounge, and its outside hand-made patio, each detail highlights its intricate architecture and customized accents.

Priding itself on its creativity and use of seasonal kitchen ingredients, the Dawson has constructed an exceptional beverage program that still focuses on using the classic techniques. As the boozy Bourbon whiskey based “Time Bandit” cocktail is currently the best seller, other highly memorable beverages of note are the citrusy and spritzy “Day Spa,” the warm and cherry bark vanilla bitter infused “Luchini,” and my personal favorite, the spiked sweet potato flavored “Eagle Scout.” Infused with sweet potato starch, the “Eagle Scout” was also made with house barrel bourbon, ramazzotti, madeira, lemon, & jerry thomas’ own decanter bitters. Not only was each cocktail meticulously constructed with finesse, but each beverage was perfectly balanced. I tasted not only an enormous amount of flavor in each cocktail, but

the most distinct flavor was the passion of their craft.


In addition to its new spring menu, head beverage manager Clint Rogers, revealed that a few liquid innovations are in the works. Two new large format cocktail presentations are the Botija and the Disco Ball.  While the Botija is a pseudo- sangria with sherry, citrus, grapes, and pisco, the Disco Ball is almost identical to what it sounds as.  A large hollowed out, retro-fitted  disco ball is crafted into a punch bowl with straws, serving a mixture of Absolut Elyx, multiple house-grown herbs, bitters, and fresh juices.

Despite a standout beverage menu and architectural design, another highlight of The Dawson is the food program. In the kitchen, chef Shaun King whips up intriguing New American dishes with a twist such as shrimp corn dogs with hush puppy batter and fernet cola ketchup and albacore tuna with fresno chili, puffed rice, sunchoke, and tiger’s milk, mimicking a bowl of cereal. 

Shrimp Corn Dogs

Shrimp Corn Dogs


Albacore Tuna Ceviche

The shareable-side of the menu  features layers and layers of complex and satisfying flavors, including the hot commodity, bbq pork cupcake and a whole redfish. In high demand, the cheddar and scallion biscuit-cupcake is stuffed with smokey minced bbq pork, onions, spicy poblanos and topped with a bbq cream cheese, while the charred filet of delicious redfish is accompanied with all of your ideal taco fixings.

BBQ Pork Cupcake



Coming off of its year and a half anniversary of opening its doors, The Dawson continues to mature into a grandiose go-to. As its innovation and creativity develops, “the Dawson seeks to recreate the pioneering, artistic, and straightforward attitude of William and Henry Dawson by providing a restaurant, bar, and gathering place that celebrates the craft of food, drink and hospitality.”

730 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654

Food & Drink Photography courtesy of Nicole Ess & Jessica Lynn Capron


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