Enjoy a culinary trip through the American south at the Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop restaurant near you. Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop was the result of the imaginings of Paul Andresen, who spent his entire career in the hospitality industry. In 1994, with the benefit of an artist’s eye for visual appeal and an intense awareness of guest expectations, Paul set about planning a restaurant that would appeal to the diverse Hyde Park community. Dixie Kitchen Hyde Park opened in 1994 to almost immediate raves. Chicago Magazine selected Dixie Kitchen as one of the top 10 new restaurants in Chicago in May of 1995. Our original location at Harper Court in Hyde Park received extensive media coverage because of its menu and ambiance. It developed an immediate following which continued until its closure in 2009, and has lead to our growth into other Chicagoland communities. And although our original Hyde Park location has closed due to loss of lease, we are now serving almost all of your Dixie Kitchen favorites right next door at the Calypso Cafe. We are proud to have been in business in Evanston, IL since 1998, and Lansing, IL since 2002!
Not being originally from the south, the process of opening a southern restaurant was not quick, or easy… Extensive research into foods indigenous to the South and exploring the history and evolution of southern American cuisine were essential. One cannot forget the valued input of women who had cooked this food for decades and raised families on gumbo, fresh catfish, pecan pie and sweet tea. That, coupled with extensive travel and tastings, were part of the lengthy process undertaken in order to insure that our product would be authentic and delicious to all of our customers, many of whom originated in the south themselves.
The decor at Dixie Kitchen reflects an imaginary bait shop you might have found in the 1930’s. Not only did they sell bait (which we don’t do) but provided a great place to get a po’boy sandwich or a bowl of red beans and rice on Washday Mondays. The walls and shelves are filled with flea market gleanings and “edge of the bayou” fishing gear. A trip to the Dixie Kitchen can provide hours of looking into the past.
In the late nineties, we added a complementary themed restaurant to the Hyde Park scene under the name Calypso Cafe. Again, the goal was to transport our guests to the Caribbean with the ambiance and menu choices. At Calypso Cafe, we researched and perfected the process of making true Jerk chicken. Included in our recipe are several ingredients that are only available by import from Jamaica itself! Jumbo jerk chicken wings are our most popular appetizer. Almost too much food for one person, the jerk chicken dinner is another excellent choice. Other specialties include “fish in the bag”, BBQ ribs with a tropical twist, and house smoked shrimp pasta. The original location lives on at Calypso, which carries favorites from Dixie Kitchen Hyde Park on the menu.
We are proud of the care and attention to detail taken in the opening of all our stores. Our goal to bring fresh, authentic menu choices to our guest is outweighed only by our intent to provide generous meals at affordable prices in a fun environment.
If you have visited Dixie Kitchen or Calypso Cafe in the past, we’d love to see you again. If coming to Calypso or Dixie Kitchen is going to be a new adventure; give us a try. We think it will be the beginning of a long-standing friendship.