The “wine dive” concept was born out of the dreams of a Texas-based couple who own Lasco Enterprises(SM). Now, with a new location in Chicago, Max’s Wine Dive, 1482 N. Milwaukee, brings a cheerful fun atmosphere with a mix of luxury and reasonably priced wines and some very good serious comfort food. The decor is clean and dark and cozy, the way a good bar should be. Whether you sit at the bar or stand or sit at one of the tall tables with 4 or 5 of your pals, you’ll feel welcome and comfortable.
Appetizers come in combinations of long, slow-cooked beef mixed with interesting fresh herbs and other crispy flavors. Fried chicken hits the taste jackpot – it sits 24 hours in a jalapeno buttermilk marinade. Next it's slowly deep-fried at no higher than 250° until it has, oh, wait, before that it's dipped in batter and then it's slow cooked so it develops a very thick crispy crust on the outside and is extremely juicy and tender inside. Served with chipotle honey for drizzling, it's just plain delicious. The jukebox is full of CDs of all kinds of rock 'n’ roll music and the music even plays on very good speakers in the bathrooms, so your mood of fun and enjoyment continues even on your potty break.
The restaurant has strong relationships with a number of winemakers. And they have their own house wines for sale at very reasonable prices, especially when you consider the hot, trendy neighborhood it's in.
One thing I particularly noticed – and appreciated – was the friendliness and the helpful, knowledgeable attitudes of the servers. They seem not only to have been seriously educated about the food and drink options, but almost to have been given a stake in the outcome of your visit – and thus the place’s success. The several mentions of Max’s other Texas locations as having won numerous “best place to work” awards makes me think they may actually do have a stake in some tangible way – like bonuses or something. But whatever the reason, you will feel like you’re being taken care of and that you’ll really understand all your available choices.
Max’s offers both gluten-free and vegetarian eaters a range of dishes. Some are already made that way, and some can be prepared that way.
Hey, It's National Fried Chicken Day on Sunday, July 6, 2014! Bring some friends and give Max’s a try – it’s a great relax-and-hang-out place.