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The Dawson
The Dawson

The Dawson Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.the-dawson.com
  • Phone: (312) 243-8955
  • Hours of Operation: Kitchen; 4:30pm until 11pm Sunday - Thursday,
    4:30pm until 12am Friday and Saturday

    Bar; 4:30 until midnight Sunday - Thursday,
    4:30 until 2am Friday and Saturday
  • Cuisine: American
  • Executive Chef: Rene De Leon
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes

Getting there

  • Public Transit: Grand Blue Line across the street
  • Parking: No
A word from The Dawson
Opened on October 25th 2013, The Dawson is a new partnership between local restaurateurs Billy Lawless (The Gage, Henri) and Branko Palikuca (Topaz, Amber) featuring cuisine by Executive Chef Anthony DiRienzo (El Rey and Butcher and Singer). Celebrating the spirit of late 19th century Chicago, this casual neighborhood hangout features an energetic series of bi-level indoor and outdoor spaces. The Dawson is quintessentially American, from the familiar comfort food and classic cocktails with a twist to the nostalgic, versatile design and atmosphere.

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Diner Reviews
  • "We had brunch there on Sunday and the food, atmosphere and service were all fantastic. Some unusual offerings, so not your "normal" options for brunch, but everything we had was great! Staff are extremely friendly and attentive, offering good suggestions when asked. Exceptional space with a great outdoor space as well. Highly recommend The Dawson."
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "Everything from the moment I walked in the door was great. I definitely recommend it."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "Our server was A+. Knew the menu and was super attentive. Rare to get this level of service and it made our experience memorable. Great outdoor patio too."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Expensive with very small wine pours for the money. Vibrant environment and great outdoor space."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Great food and wine. The menu has been chnaging over the past 9 months, and the changes are always interesting tweaks (nothing major). I look forward to our next visit!"
    Dined on 7/14/2014
  • "I'd been looking forward to The Dawson since I'm a big fan of The Gage and Billy Lawless' style of hospitality. The space is beautiful, it was lovely to have live music on the patio on a Sunday evening, but the food was mixed, our server had a sour attitude, and the price/value just wasn't there ($98 tab for one entree, two appetizers, one cocktail, one non alcoholic beverage, two coffees). I have hopes The Dawson will keep getting better, but it will need more focus on the food and less on the beverage service to win me back."
    Dined on 7/13/2014
  • "So many friends recommended the Dawson for not only the food or the drinks but for the atmosphere. Dined outside for brunch. Perfect weather and the food was great. The honey ham was probably the best ham I've had. Waitress was great but towards the end of the meal she did kind of forget us and we had to flag her down. Although, we were all in convo so she may have given is time to unwind and chat after eating before bringing the check. Will def recommend and plan on coming back for dinner"
    Dined on 7/13/2014
  • "Totally over hyped food menu. Food just wasn't that good or exciting for the price. Could have had a better meal for a lot less. Service was ok, but not great. Drinks were good, though. Would be surprised if this restaurant survives for more than a year."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "Excellent food, trendy atmosphere, great service! Would recommend this if you are out for a night on the town in Chicago."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "Everything was just great. Service, menu, food, wine, hospitality of management. But the place is loud."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "The atmosphere is full of energy, the service was outstanding. Our server was very knowledgeable of the menu. The best part was the food and the drinks...wow..you have to try the chicken fried lobster and the muscles..the fennel and saffron..outstanding. Oh...take a cab you do not want to miss out on the drink menu. I would go back in a minute. This is not a place you want to pass up."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "After driving by too many times to count, I was glad we finally got to try The Dawson. We met another couple and brought our 1 month old. They had a high chair with proper safety straps (this is not always the case with other restaurants), but no place mat or anything (not that I expected it, just giving other families with young children the details). I did not check if there was a changing station. I had the French Omlet which was delicious and my husband said his Good Simple was as it name suggested. We both loved the potatoes that came with. The staff was very friendly and the decor is great. I wish it had been a nice day out; I would have loved to have sat outside on their large patio. Next time."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "Great food, great cocktails. A bit noisy on the first floor, but you can request upstairs or outside."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "The Dawson has a great patio for hanging out. Drinks and service are great, but I'd stop there. I went with a group of four, and none of us were impressed by the meals. They lacked flavor and creativity. The food is not worth the price."
    Dined on 7/9/2014
  • "Had the sausage dinner with au gratin potatoes and found it to be okay. The potatoes were a bit flavorless and the sausage seemed like it needed something else to complement it. The outdoor area trumps everything, so I'll probably make it back for drinks and try something else on the menu."
    Dined on 7/8/2014
  • "We've been to the Dawson a few times and the food is always creative and flavorful. From the hamburger to the chicken fried lobster to the honey-brined pork t-bone, it's all good and different here. The outdoor patio is closed in enough that you don't notice the traffic directly outside and the service has been excellent so far. Anda, our regular server, always has good suggestions and keeps the glasses (alcohol and otherwise) filled. It can be a bit crowded on date night, but the rest of the week the spacious place offers plenty of elbow room."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "This was a great find for brunch. The day was beautiful and there is a large outdoor patio surrounded by a high wooden gate. You feel like you are somewhere fabulous on vacation. Hostess was lovely- maybe the best hostess we have had anywhere recently. Our server was great- came over, welcomed us and introduced himself. He was excellent the entire time. Cinnamon roll was amazing, I would go back just for that. Thank you for such a perfect time!"
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "The food was awesome and the service impeccable. We ate upstairs thinking the noise level would be less so. However, after just a few minutes it filled up and was quite noisy. It wouldn't keep us from coming back, but now we know what to expect."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "Found The Dawson in Tribune review. It was fabulous! They have unique cocktails - something for everyone. Fabulous food! We had the lobster appetizer, the deviled eggs (killer!) and my entree was the sausage combination. All great! For dessert we had the chocolate mousse (REALLY good) and the three flavors of ice cream (homemade). Our server, Chris, was attentive and helpful. He was knowledgeable about the menut and he answered all our questions with a smile. The table attendant was great too -- you don't normally notice how great a "bus boy" is (he's better than that label) and this guy was there to pick up every crumb and he swiftly & politely removed all glasses/plates as soon as we were done with them. Great service!"
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "Went for drinks with two others. Manhattans were delicious; pretty are they make their own maraschino cherries. It's craft and upscale but doesn't feel overly pretentious. Good ambiance and beautiful spot."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "This is a beautiful spot but needs to improve food. Prices are outrageous for overly salty uninventive entrees. I would love this to be my go to place with friends. Loud dining room also added to frustration."
    Dined on 6/30/2014
  • "totally new menu, not nearly as good as the opening one.. check it out before you go"
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "Small portions, mediocre food and not worth the price point. I won't be returning."
    Dined on 6/23/2014
  • "This is a great place for the young professional...located just off the blue line @ Grand. Open concept with a great bar and outdoor patio. Really great place for groups. The dinner menu is small but good - not amazing."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "Food was good, but overpriced. Too big - felt cold and too "hip" in a trying too hard kind of way. No reason to go out of your way for this place."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "Visited the Dawson Friday night and was impressed with the scene. Out door patio area and bar were pretty vibrant! Food on the other hand was ok nothing to brag about. Would recommend it for a few drinks but not dinner."
    Dined on 6/20/2014
  • "Chef Tony brought a whole new meaning to "haute" cuisine . Masterfully prepared dishes with exceptional product and an eclectic array of sensations. From the succulent chicken fried lobster to the unctuous salmon , all designed with a sense of respect and an honest interpretation of the classic. Incredibly tantalizing to the pallet. A must if you are in the Big Windy."
    Dined on 6/17/2014
  • "Really cool restaurant with good food. Get the shisito peppers, Deviled eggs mediocre, Entrees good. The patio is gorgeous."
    Dined on 6/16/2014
  • "First time visit with out of town guest who love a scene with great food and drinks. The Dawson is that place. The outdoor patio is great. The drinks were delicious and the staff is extremely welcoming. The food was innovative and of high quality. We especially loved the mussels and the deviled eggs. We will be returning"
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "The Dawson is doing a great job! The food is delicious and well presented. Great options for sharing as well as individual main courses. Great soft-shell crab! Crispy-fried lobster tail were wonderful with a great spicy side sauce. Service was great and were quite family friendly. The outdoor garden area is beautiful! We will definitely will be back!!"
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "I did not think it lived up to the hype. The burger did not compare to other stand-outs in the neighborhood (I.e. Au Cheval). The bet things we had were dishes that need very little help to shine: lobster tail and soft shell crab. The patio space is the best part about this place. Also, half of the tables at the restaurant were empty yet they seated three of us at a tiny round table all the way in the back, upstairs. I don't need to go back."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "I'd gone for brunch & loved both the food and outdoor area. Expectations were high that a supper experience would be just as positive, but it was a bad night at the Dawson. Service was excellent (though drinks slow to come) and most of the food was prepared well, but it took an hour to receive the main course after we'd finish the starters (oysters were fresh, chicken-fried lobster was yummy). The manager stepped in to sort out the kitchen and the food finally came. The ribeye was delicious, but the halibut dry and disappointing, particularly after waiting so long for it to arrive! The manager was good enough to comp the dish (and I'd only commented, not complained!) Brunch is well worth a visit but I'll have to give supper a 2nd chance."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "Kitchen has very poor timing...unable to get meals out properly. Service is minimal."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "Had a reservation.They asked us if we wanted to sit inside or outside.I asked if they had heat lamps and the hostess said no so sat inside.They seated us in a far section,upstairs all by ourselves in a corner.Being a little chilly outside was more tolerable than sitting at the "step child" table, so we went back downstairs and they told us they couldn't seat us outside for 45 min.Why did the initially ask if we wanted to sit outside?We went to the bar to wait.10 min later we were seated, but the hostess would not let me put my purse down at the table without closing my tab. She made me close it right then. Like she was afraid I was going to run or something.Also, we were seated right by a heat lamp, had the hostess never been outside?"
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "We had a large group that showed up at different times and the Dawson was very helpful in finding a way to make everyone comfortable. Thank you very much!"
    Dined on 6/12/2014
  • "We broke down the doors its first night, scoring seats at the counter bar. We ate like VIPs, mgmt fetching us drinks and bringing us dishes to try. The food was great, the pork shank incredible. Reason to go back -- but food and service slipped each time. Now it's just awful. The new menu is sad -- like they were daring us to order food. Votives proffered as $12 beer glasses are absurd. Our Diane-Chambers-on-acid-having-a-stroke server was full of grammar and lacking in attentiveness. Sorry your major in left-handed Bulgarian impressionists isn't working out, but can you get my drink? Lastly, THE NOISE -- is someone banging a gong? The Dawson: once upon a time a handle-bar-mustachioed hipster and a pompous fund manager had a colicky baby."
    Dined on 6/10/2014
  • "This is a unique outdoor dining experience. The entire restaurant as a whole was unique with a really laid-back vibe. However, it was a bit on the cooler side that night (temp-wise) & they chose to keep all 3 outdoor heaters up on the top deck for a private party. Everyone who was sitting outside got up, left or went inside. I wasn't too thrilled that they didn't cater to the normal dining crowd on this. It was unnecessary to have all heaters on the tiny deck in the upper area and not ONE in the huge lower patio area. Overall though, the food is delicious! Smaller portions & a bit pricy but worth it for the experience. (side note: 1/2 the beers on the menu were not available because they ran out from the weekend before)"
    Dined on 6/9/2014
  • "I am old and stuffy. I expected not to like The Dawson. It's for younger, hipper folks, who like music and noise in restaurants and who play with their iPhones during dinner. My wife and I were the youngest customers in the place by forty years. But we were treated like royalty. The service was just excellent -- just the right degree of attention. There was a good menu selection and some specials. The food was excellent. We both had fish. It was moist, cooked just right. I had a radish salad that was fresh, attractive, and just the right size. It even had watermelon radishes in it. We'll be back."
    Dined on 6/9/2014
  • "interesting dishes and nice atmosphere, but finally a stressing experience because the noise level was so high that we decided to leave right after the main course and felt very relieved being on the street again! Had a similar experience in other restaurants in Chicago, so maybe this is USA standard, but not understandable from an european perspective. Would not return."
    Dined on 6/8/2014
  • "Very attractive outdoors for a drink. Menu could use some work. There are interesting beers on draught but the person who pulls the beer ought to be filling the glasses to the top!"
    Dined on 6/8/2014