A breezy, beachy bar and lounge that aims to bring the mellow vibes of Tulum, Mexico to Wrigleyville is open with a menu of tacos and margaritas, a massive dog-friendly patio, and a tropical decor. Diver at the Park sits inside the baseball-themed Wheelhouse Hotel just a block from Wrigley Field.
The restaurant is from co-owner and designer Adolfo Garcia, the restaurateur who opened Broken English Taco Pub. As a sister spot to the Diver in River North which opened in 2020, restaurant management describes the restaurant as a relaxing retreat where neighborhood residents can escape the sometimes-hectic scene around Wrigley. Diver will eventually become a multi-level venue when speakeasy-style basement bar Dot — a sports bar that will celebrate women athletes — opens this fall. Dot Wilkinson’s story as a woman who played baseball in the early 1900s was featured in A League of Their Own. A rooftop area should open next year to the general public and the interim it will serve as a private event space.
Garcia says he wants to highlight the country’s natural beauty instead of resorting to a “Tijuana-type cartoon” with piñatas and luchador masks. “I have two beautiful kids who are third-generation Mexican American,” he says. “The culture is so rich and empowering, full of beautiful colors and things that don’t relate to making fun or stereotyping.”
Margaritas are the focus at Diver at the Park and customers can choose among six options including the Sunset in Playa (tequila, lime, watermelon, agave syrup) and the Angry Mermaid (tequila, lime, habanero syrup). They’re available frozen or on the rocks or by the by the pitcher (sangria’s a group option, too). There’s also the Cantarito — a Paloma-like cocktail (tequila, lime, grapefruit, orange juice, Squirt) served in a clay bowl.
The new spot opens with an abbreviated food menu, focusing on six tacos such as carnitas (pickled onions, cilantro, tomatillo salsa), carne asada (steak, onions, cilantro), and chicken al pastor (guajilo adobo sauce, pineapple, tomatillo salsa). Staff will later introduce quesadillas and bowls, along with a number of small plates including Tajin Buffalo wings, street corn elotes, and a surf-and-turf burrito (Mexican rice, refried beans, chipotle crema, grilled shrimp and steak).
Garcia, is a native of Mexico and known for his work with Phil Stefani on the colorful Broken English Taco Pub in Lincoln Park, Old Town, and the Loop. He’s also designed clubby spots like Hubbard Inn. Garcia’s drawn on the boho aesthetic of the River North original, draping the 100-seat indoor space with macrame, woven basket lampshades, and leafy hanging plants. A wall of TVs may shatter the atmospheric illusion for some, but the bar’s proximity to Wrigley Field demands some pandering to sports fans.
The theme extends into a spacious, 200-person outdoor beer garden with bamboo rattan seats, egg-shaped woven hanging chairs, a cedar pergola, and fire pits. Millwork artist Alex Morales created a giant tree sculpture near the center of the beer garden, and street artist JC Rivera (known for his “Bear Champ” murals) painted a jungle-themed mural. To further underscore the beachside theme, a teal vintage camper van will serve as a bar with mezcal, cocktails, beers, and seltzers.
For Garcia, the opening feels like a victory after the extreme challenges of the pandemic. He’s encountered the same labor shortages affecting hospitality businesses across the country, but believes the industry will soon be back at full force.
“Today I truly believe we have become a strong [restaurant] community because we’re not looking at each other as competitors,” he says. “I’m happy and grateful to be able to open something, and hopefully when people start coming back to work, we’ve got jobs available for everybody.”
Look around Diver at the Park and its food and drink in the photos below.
Diver at the Park, 3475 N. Clark Street, Open 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.