Three Dots and a Dash is pretty much the antithesis of every bar that’s opened in River North in recent memory.

The thing is that it’s not just a bar with some Polynesian decorations hung on the wall. The commitment to the Tiki environment is insane. First you follow Tiki torches and a strip of blue neon light down an alley between Hubbard and Illinois. There’s a tiny sign hanging above the doorway. Doorman lets you in and you go down dark stairs, with the walls decorated in skulls bathed in blue light. There’s bamboo poles separating a front lounge which is lit just by candles. Fake moss and leaves cover the ceiling. Walls of the main room are covered in bamboo, bar has a thatched roof, Tiki totem carvings everywhere, paper lanterns. And it’s DARK.

By the time you get down there, it already feels like you’re truly someplace different. I think the creepy back-alley entrance might actually add to the allure. Unlike just walking in a front door to a themed bar, it’s like the long entrance magically transports you to another world. It very much reminded me of a theme ride at Great America or Disney World. And the complete lack of windows adds to the effect. Even the service bar, which no customers see, is decorated in full island effect.

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