Chicago’s legendary Polish Triangle now has some island vibes after Dr. Bird’s Jamaican Patty Shack landed last weekend at the intersection of Milwaukee, Division, and Ashland near Wicker Park. The owners have transformed an easily forgotten space that last housed a Burger King into a bright and friendly oasis near the Division Blue Line stop.
Dr. Bird’s origin story starts in Buffalo, N.Y. where the original location opened 40 years ago. After amassing a loyal following — including gaining some hip hop credibility — ownership has ventured westward with the intentions of opening more restaurants. The menu includes Jamaican specialities like patties and jerk chicken, and there’s even Indian-style flatbreads; roti paratha is popular in the Caribbean as Indians brought the dish over to the islands after the British brought South Asian indentured servants over in the 1800s. Islanders would make the item their own with the creation of doubles and other delicacies.
The original Dr. Bird’s started as a Jamaican grocer, giving an area unfamiliar with the island culture access to hard-to-find ingredients. As the owners of many international stores have discovered over the years, the support of customers — starved for a taste of home or ones who are delighted in being introduced to something new — is usually more than they anticipated. That pushed Dr. Bird’s toward serving patties, a flaky turnover-like pastry. The fillings at the Chicago location include spicy or mild beef, spinach, veggie, or chicken. Another menu item of note is the rasta pasta: cheesy noodles with red, green, and gold toppers. Red Stripe, Jamaican’s No. 1 imported beer, is available. But there’s also several rums that can be added into fresh-squeezed juices. Rum Bundt cakes are also available for dessert.
Chicago has a handful of Jamaican restaurants, including Ja Grill in Hyde Park and Caribbean American Baking Co. in Rogers Park. Dr. Bird’s, which gets its name from a red-billed streamertail, a bird that only lives in Jamaica (known as a “doctor bird”), is now poised to join that group and give Chicagoans another option. Brunch service is coming soon.
Take a look at the menu and photos below.
Dr. Bird’s, 1215 N. Milwaukee Avenue, open noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.