Vandelay Hospitality Group opens new classic American neighborhood tavern, D.L. Mack’s in the Park Cities (6501 Hillcrest Avenue at the corner of Haynie Avenue).
“Mack’s” marks the fifth concept to come from the fast-growing Texas-owned-and-operated hospitality group which is known best for classic American local favorites Hudson House, East Hampton Sandwich Co., and Drake’s Hollywood. D.L. Mack’s blends the approachable, all occasions feel of Hudson House with its own distinctly handsome Chicago-inspired backdrop.
SMU and Park Cities dwellers will collide for Chicago-style cracker crust pizza in a handsome and comfortable old-world setting inspired by iconic Lincoln Park brownstone-clad institutions. The reimagined 2,400 square-foot space which features an outdoor garden patio is located in University Park on the corner of Hillcrest and Haynie Avenues.
Reminiscent of a worn-in post-prohibition haunt, D.L. Mack’s might be the oldest new restaurant to open this year in that every design element is a vintage vestige from mid-21st century America. The warm interiors are nostalgic of a “Windy City” brownstone with its southernmost wall of floor-to-ceiling reclaimed antique brick dating back to before the Chicago Fire of 1871. The surrounding wood-paneled walls enveloping the dining space are hung with iconic vintage works sourced from The Art Institute of Chicago’s sports memorabilia collection. D.L. Mack’s two-hundred year-old reclaimed dark wood floors are marked with ten dark leather booths and a quaint wraparound bar.
Details throughout the space include a 1960’s theater exit sign, a decades-old double-faced train station clock, and Majolica torch and laurel tiles pulled from the Chicago Civic Center are sparsed throughout the space. Outside, D.L. Mack’s garden patio features a retractable roof which covers sixteen tables with wooden benches inspired by the Chicago Transit Authority.
D.L. Mack’s food program offers classic American cuisine by way of carefully sourced purveyors with an emphasis on house-made ingredients. Dishes are prepared from scratch in-house daily, featuring an all-day entrée set with shareable snacks, salads, prime steaks, whole fish filleted in-house, and classic Chicago cracker crust pizzas.
Chicago natives will appreciate D.L. Mack’s purist approach to its true Chicago cracker crust tavern-style pizza offering. No deep dish to be found here. The thin crust is so crispy, it can’t be folded. A highlight of pizza offerings on the menu, Return Of The Mack’s foundation is a blend of jack, fontina and provolone cheeses topped with house-made sausage meatballs Mack’s game-changer onion marmalade— garnished with fresh grated pecorino.
Other highlights on the menu include the Cheeseburger: its house-ground perfectly balanced juicy fatty blend of brisket and chuck hits the spot, topped with thickly-cut cheddar and onion marmalade set between freshly-baked poppy seed buns. The Chicken Tenders are an unexpected standout; tossed in a light homemade tempura style batter, they are light and crispy and served with a truffle honey mustard dipping sauce. On the lighter side, VHG’s take on The McCarthy Salad is a chopped salad with grilled chicken, sharp cheddar, beets, avocado, bacon, tomato, and egg tossed in a house-made craveable ranch dressing.
Standout entree Steak Frites Au Poivre offers a 10-oz. USDA prime NY strip coated with coarsely cracked peppercorns in a classic au poivre sauce inspired by the legendary dish made famous by Raoul’s in New York City. The dish comes with Mack’s Fries, garlic Kennebec potato wedges, tossed in roasted garlic oil and in house shake spice mix.
The drink menu features two frozen cocktails: the Paloma and the Vandelay Bellini, made famous at Hudson House with its “strong amounts” of vodka as listed on the menu and a signature Grand Marnier floater. Rocks drinks include the classic 1920’s Bees Knees made with Hendrick’s, lemon, honey and topped off with D.L Mack’s stand-out signature Lilet Blanc limoncello foam. If all good things come with age, The Negroni ‘wrote the book’ with its barrel-made, aged-for-two-weeks Carpano Antica; it’s a mellowed out approach to the classic cocktail. The Anejo Old Fashioned drinks like an earthy, savory, sultry 1920’s-style old fashioned with a foundation of Amaro Montenegro – a bitter, old-school European liquor – which is blended with Anejo tequila and sour cherry bitters. And last but certainly not least, one would be hard-pressed to find a Vandelay Hospitality Group menu without their classic “World’s Coldest Martinis” on the menu.
D.L. Mack’s Chicago-inspired Old World concept falls well in line with what Vandelay Hospitality Group has proven to do best over the course of the last decade. From fast-casual to fine dining: each concept is inherently aspirational and has the distinct ability to transport guests into an elevated other-world classic American environment.
D.L. Mack’s opens to the public tomorrow, December 7, 2021. The restaurant is open from 11AM to 9PM Sunday through Wednesday and from 11AM to 11PM Thursday through Saturday.