It’s safe to say Diana Dávila’s first solo venture—a Mexican restaurant slated to open in the springtime—is a bit personal. Mi Tocaya (2800 W. Logan Blvd., Logan Square) translates to “my namesake,” and, says the chef, “When you say someone is mi tocaya, it’s a term of endearment. It’s like being soul mates. Twinsies. This restaurant is my alter ego.”
Her first taste of the biz came at her parents’ suburban taqueria where, she says, “We kids had an ‘office.’ It was our daycare.” Since those early days, the chef has cooked in many a restaurant kitchen, including Boka, Butter, and most recently, the now-closed Cantina 1910.
At Mi Tocaya, Dávila will combine her experience with her heritage and toss in a dash of trendiness to offer antojos—Mexican-style tapas, which are gaining popularity in metro areas south of the border. The menu will feature a progression of small, medium, and large plates.
There will also be two shareable dishes, including caldo de res, inspired by Dávila’s father’s beef stew. But instead of using one cut of beef like her father did, Dávila will combine bone marrow, short rib, and brisket. As is common in Mexican cooking, her version will “celebrate and use the whole cow,” she says. Expect house-made flour tortillas (like Dávila’s grandmother made) to complement select entrées. For dessert Dávila plans chocolate tres leches with vanilla-flavored leche, and to drink, margaritas on tap, a paloma slushie, and both Mexican and local beers.
The bones of the restaurant (which formerly housed the short-lived Catalpa Kitchen) will go unchanged, and Dávila has visions of brightly colored interior décor. Just like at her parents’ taqueria, she’ll add a basement “kids’ office” for her two children. And coincidentally, says Dávila, “My parents just closed their last restaurant, so now they can help me with mine.”