While some restaurants get lost in the details, Dee's Place focuses on two things: an electric vibe unique to the Wicker Park
neighborhood and quality, tasty soul food.
The laid back, celebratory air begins even before the live music starts up (currently Thursday through Sunday evenings), with instruments set up on a tiny, barely-raised stage crammed into one corner of the small room and black-and-white photos from the Chicago Blues Museum lining the walls. Things will calm down a bit once Dee's completes its planned expansion upstairs and to the front and back patios, but for now the volume level isn't conversation-friendly on busy nights, especially once the jazz and blues erupts.
But that's OK, because the music and loud chatter provide an excuse for prioritizing the food over your friends. Appetizers like fried okra, catfish nuggets and fried green tomatoes are available, but the menu is based around a number of meat and sides, with prices based on the quantity of each you choose. It's not inexpensive - a meat, two sides, and a piece of jalapeno cornbread costs $15.95 - but you get what you pay for. The fried chicken, gracefully crispy and surprisingly moist, begins a lengthy protein section that includes four other chicken options, ribs, and catfish. The sides, from macaroni and cheese to red beans and rice to collard greens, are doled out with a heavy hand. There's a lot on the menu, but Dee's still adds a special or two to the regular items.
Until Dee's gets its liquor license, it'll be no corkage fee BYOB, which makes it that much easier to stick around for a couple more tunes or spring for dessert.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Alexander Hough