Nightlife titan Billy Dec’s newest spot, a late-night cantina in the shadow of the Chicago/Franklin Brown Line stop, provided the backdrop for last weekend’s Seen on the Scene. Lest you pass it off as just another spot to get blitzed in River North, here’s a bit of history on the two-week-old spot: The Rockit Ranch crew tells us the name ¡Ay Chiwowa! incorporates the Chihuahua, a pup known specifically for its spunk, Mexican roots, and kissing skills (we’ll take their word for that); “chi,” a nod to Chicago; and “wow,” which points to the venue’s “wow” factor, of course.

The theme—“Mexican dive”—was determined through a public vote housed on Dec’s blog last fall. And the menu? It comes courtesy of chef/partner Arturo Gomez, who draws inspiration from his favorite bars and street stalls in Mexico to craft libations incorporating dry fruit-aged tequilas, and sustenance in the form of tacos, tortas, and tostadas. Peruse the gallery for a taste of the scene.


photography: jeff schear

A group chats in front a skull motif–a sort of wallpaper de los muertos.

On tap: A cup of nothing.

Graffiti artists created murals on the bar's walls. This one, painted by Erik Debat, is a portrait of the mother of Brad Young, Rockit Ranch's CFO.

This bowl of guacamole could help someone overcome a genetic aversion to cilantro.

This cocktail, with a Coronita shoved into a margarita glass, is known as Billy's Beerita. Great idea, Billy!