Dwntown & Halsted serves as your friendly neighborhood art bar where you can get your fill of modern comfort food and designer cocktails. It’s located at the nightlife-friendly complex in the Burgos Circle area – where it sits comfortably with other go to places like Tipsy Pig, Frank & Dean, and Locavore.
Dwntown & Halsted is an ode to the bustling Halsted Street all the way in Chicago. It is where expression is celebrated through art and graffiti. This is very apparent in the unmistakably cosmopolitan interiors of the spot – bare, cement walls with industrial feel that is slowly being filled by murals of local artists and other art works that are also on sale.
The person behind the kitchen is chef Marco Legato, also the main man behind Prime 101 and Abuelas. From the pasta and breads down to the jams, he and his team make it all from scratch. The bar, on the other hand, is taken cared of Singapore-based mixologist Jason Grey. He’s into mostly fruity cocktails using premium spirits as the base. I highly recommend the Brunswick Collins and the Halsted Sour.
Having the first sips of our drinks, the Mushroom Soup (Php 250) was served. Perfect for any time of day. Fine bits of mushroom finished with the light taste of butter – comforting earthy flavor. This was followed by Buffalo Tenders (Php 290), which tasted just as Buffalo as you’d expect. It delivered in all ways, plus it came with a chilled Blue Cheese dip. Have it as a meal with rice (why not) or for finger food.
We also had a sampling of their skewers. Savory well-done Chicken, sweet Pork, and some Lengua. All three on a bed of some shredded cabbage. Another one on the list to go with your drinks!
For a more sophisticated serving, we had their Portobello & Quinoa Salad (Php 250). It had an unmistakable Mexican flavor, where the Quinoa was mixed with some sharp salsa on a Portobello Mushroom as a cup.
The Salted Egg Calamari (Php 190) and Truffle Fries (Php 260) arrived and we admittedly got excited precisely because there’s salted egg and truffle. The excitement left as soon as it came, though. You can’t quite taste the salted egg here and Truffle Fries should be renamed to fries with truffled mayo. But, a second order of the Truffle Fries was made. And that was a good comeback.
A sizeable chunk of bone and meat arrived at our table and that was the Short Ribs (Php 750). It was simply delicious as it is slathered in deep red sauce. It was fork-tender and chew-friendly since it’s been slow-cooked for 4 hours. And I would daresay it’s reminiscent of Kaldereta precisely because of the meat and the sweetness of its sauce. We had some mashed potatoes with it on the side, which was unfortunately bland and pasty, texture-wise.
And the showstopper that is the Crispy Pork Knuckles (Php 580) graced us with its presence. A huge portion that can fill up 3 to 4 hungry people and an offering worthy of being one of the best in the metro. Absolutely crispy skin that’s well-salted and meat that just melts in your mouth with an amazing tangy dipping sauce. Definitely unforgettable! We cleaned up the whole dish in no time. And asked for another one right after.
We also did not shy away from another round of drinks as we just relished the food we just had.
Downtown & Halsted is quite worth paying a visit. It has an underground yet modern charm attached to it matched with fine selections of food and beverages. A good time would definitely ensue as the friendly and attentive staff patiently wait on you for your requests.