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We thought we knew Chicago’s dining scene inside and out. The small plates. The craft cocktails. The black market for tickets to Next.


Max’s Wine Dive is none of those. The new Wicker Park spot is the first northern location of a small chain with Southern roots, and its divey vibe is true to its name--the interior feels kind of like being inside a vintage jukebox.

But Max’s takes its food seriously and also sells more than 100 high-end wines (they’ll open anything if you make a two-glass commitment).

Essentially it’s one giant oxymoron, especially when it comes to the two-part menu.

First there are the approachable Wine Dive classics like perfectly crunchy, juicy Southern fried chicken and creamy, over-the-top Max ’n Cheese with truffle cream, provolone, Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano ($12).

The other, more elegant half of the menu has seasonal offerings made with local ingredients; we tried the light mushroom truffle risotto ($19), which we paired with a smooth glass of Saddle Ranch Pinot Noir ($14).

Max’s character is rock-and-roll rebel; its food is comfort chic.

Max’s Wine Dive, 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-661-6581 or

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