Three Dots and a Dash

Bar & Restaurant
435 N Clark St.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Ph: (312) 610-4220 - Website
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Sun-Thu 5pm-2am
Fri 4pm-2am
Sat 5pm-3am
Opened in August 2013
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
The Field Museum, Chicago 2.0 mi
3.3 km
Won Kow Restaurant, Chicago 2.7 mi
4.3 km
Lost Lake, Chicago 4.9 mi
7.9 km
Paradise Club, Chicago 9.5 mi
15.3 km
Chef Shangri-La, North Riverside 10.4 mi
16.7 km
Drinks in mugs at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago
October 2015, photo by madcow
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Humuhumu’s description:
Three Dots and a Dash is the creation of star bartender Paul McGee, in partnership with Lettuce Entertain You, a Chicago area restaurant group. The bar is named for the classic Don the Beachcomber drink, itself a WWII call for victory using the Morse code for "V." The focus at Three Dots and a Dash is on cocktails, but it also delivers on the special Polynesian Pop details we've come to expect... most notably on the beautifully detailed souvenir mugs.

In November 2014, Paul McGee left Three Dots and a Dash, and in January 2015 opened Lost Lake.

How to find it:
The entrance is located on an alley around the back of the building, just off of Hubbard St.
There are 7 comments.
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May 20, 2014, 3:23 PM
Best tiki drinks I've ever had. The presentation is 1st class. dcor and ambiance top notch. The only down side is that it gets really busy on weekend nights. Go during the week.
Rum Forest Rum has visited Three Dots and a Dash.

May 20, 2014, 4:09 PM
We were lucky enough to get in on a Saturday in October. There was already a short line outside waiting for the place to open at 5:00. We got seats at the bar (where we wanted to be anyway) and tried a few of the excellent drinks with beautiful garnishes. The pupus we tried (crab Rangoon and coconut shrimp) were also pretty good. We went back on a Saturday in March, arriving shortly after 5. There was a longer line outside, and the bar was already packed. The tables were all spoken for by parties with reservations. If you are coming on a Saturday, reservations are now a must, even early in the evening.
Wiki Tiki has visited Three Dots and a Dash.

May 20, 2014, 4:27 PM
I agree with both of the above reviews:

Three Dots and a Dash is not only the best Tiki bar in Chicago (not saying much I admit) but just flat out one of the best bars in Chicago.

They just nailed it right from the get go. The entrance is perfect and lends a theatrical flair to everything (down an alley, through a nearly unmarked door, down the stairs under a wall of skulls awash in blue light... its perfect). The decor is both clearly tiki but modern at once. It just feels right and being in a windowless chamber allows them to control the ambiance and light... it is ALWAYS just the right time down there. The drinks are fantastic and made with care and quality ingredients and served in great mugs (most notably the custom Three Dots Sea Urchin). To top it off the staff are some of the most fun I have ever encountered. I am not shy when it comes to getting to know the people who work and my favorite places; they are after all a vital part of the experience. At Three Dots from the managers to the bus boys and everyone in between are really on top of their game. Three Dots employs several of my favorite servers bar none... just really nice people. Finally Paul McGee the partner/owner mixologist is a great guy. Giving of his time and deeply knowledgeable.

Oh yea... I almost forgot the actual menu... it is a physically large throw back to menus of the 60's with great illustrations of the drinks... both modern takes as well ad faithful classics (the origins of which are credited on the menu).

If you have even a passing interest in tiki places (of course you do if you are reading this) or even just a really fund place GO HERE.

Now there is a caveat.... as Wiki Tiki said the weekend is NOT the time to go. Go early on a weekday... go on a Sunday... make reservations... just be smart and prepared and you will love it.
On the weekends later at night it turns into basically a club because of its location (River North in Chicago is a club / tourist area for the most part)... but AVOID those times and have fun all the other times.


May 20, 2014, 5:23 PM
Well, I have to echo much of what the prior Critikers said. Avoid weekends, go early. The loud club atmosphere they adopt on Fridays and Saturdays is fairly horrific. If you go when other tikiphiles are there during quieter time, it is sublime.

The atmosphere is an amazing combination of modern subtlety and classic tiki kitsch. Meeting Paul McGee is a big plus too. Amazingly friendly and willing to chat about tiki. The classics and modern sides of the menu are both great, but the 3 Dots, Saturn and Jet Pilot stand out in my memory. The Poipui Boogie Board is much better there than when I attempt to make them at home (delicate bourbon balancing act, I think). And the house Mai-Tai is a joy as well. Check out The Whistler if you have time as well (where Paul McGee resided prior to 3 Dots).

Definitely make this tiki stop #1 in Chicago. FAR better than Hala Kahiki. Chef Shangri-La is worth a stop for old school, divey kitsch. And their drinks are not bad for the price. Dr. Fong is a good choice.

Souvenir mugs only available at the source. The original urchin mug is truly unique and well-made.

May 21, 2014, 2:45 AM
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Three Dots and a Dash on three separate days of a five day stay in Chicago. I have to say I was very impressed with my experience. Paul McGee is an expert barman, and he has trained his staff incredibly well. Cocktails were spot on and the staff was attentive and friendly. It is in River North, so you can expect to see a bit more of a night club or business clientele, so I do suggest being mentally prepared to order a drink and watch the wild animals do as they do. Sundays and Mondays are a bit slower, and those are also the nights Paul works behind the stick. They recently launched a new menu, two highlights for me were Don't Touch My Bikini, a genever based drink, and the wonderful No Bye, No Aloha which features gin. Make sure to get a banana daiquiri, the garnish is hilarious!
barmanamok has visited Three Dots and a Dash.

May 21, 2014, 8:53 AM
Celebrated my birthday at Three Dots in April 2014 and invited the crew from 'Bad Shirt Good Times' (the Aloha shirt company I co-founded & market).

Same as what's been said prior: amazing tiki decor (took many pics that I'll post) and outstanding drinks and service! We got there shortly after it opened on a Saturday night. Already starting to get pretty busy with most tables taken. However, we got a nice low seated corner area and served immediately by a very friendly and knowledgeable waitress. Cute, friendly and fast - what else could you ask for? She helped us with our drink choices and we were on our way!

Practically ordered everything on the menu! Easier to say what we didn't like: the spring rolls were just so-so. The peanut dipping sauce made it better. The skewers were probably our second least favorite, but still decent. The top choice, was the TUNA CRISP... wow. Just WOW. Two orders of it and later ordered another! Pork belly buns were a close second (and we ordered seconds!). Great stuff! Allowed more "padding" for more cocktails!

Drinks... lots of em!
We all enjoyed the big skull punch bowl of Zombie Punch for sharing. Jaw dropping presentation. Everyone should start with that for that WOW factor. Tasted good too, but maybe a tad too floral for some in our party. *I* had to hold back not to drink too much so I could sample others to come! The signature Three Dots and a Dash drink went over big in our group, but probably the most ordered as a 2nd round was the Jet Pilot. Tried a wide array and everyone was raving about their own personal faves. Everyone wanted to come back!

So, about the crowds... yes, it got REALLY packed. REALLY busy and the music started to shift and become a bit clubby as the night went on, so much so that we had to exit. Not our thing. But I am sure that's a necessity to cater to the late night club crowd.

We WILL be back for sure! Get there VERY early on a Sat or hit it during the week, for sure.

NOTE: only a week after we were there, they changed up their drink menu! Looks even better so may have to go back sooner then later!
Bad Shirt Good Times has visited Three Dots and a Dash.

March 8, 2015, 1:23 AM
Whatever their drink with passion fruit is, I can still taste it. This is the memory I cling to rather than the sugary punches. Amazing glassware. Amazing atmosphere and entrance. I am dying to go back.

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