There is a new restaurant on the shore that celebrates all things tropical. It has the ability to transport its patrons from the rainy, overcast Midwest to the lush green landscape of beachside towns in Mexico. Diver Cantina on the Shore, new to the dining scene in Highland Park, gives diners a way to escape for a couple of hours. Whether you sip a Berry Mojito on the wraparound patio or indulge in the warm churros while nestled in a cozy booth, this is one trip you will definitely want to take!
For me, the atmosphere at a restaurant is just as important as the food. Whether it is a raucous girl’s night out, a romantic date with my partner, or a celebratory family event, Diver Cantina lends itself to elevating any experience. It is the stuff from which Boho Dreams are made- textures like rattan and wicker, exotic prints, and overflowing greenery. Seating options are numerous, with wrap-around booths, chic tables, luxe patio loungers, and bar stools nestled up to the wrap-around bar.
Rattan-covered light fixtures and natural fiber potted ferns extend from the ceiling and oversized plants are strategically placed on the floor and between tables. Staff wear tropical shirts and adopt a relaxed yet hospitable vibe, helpful yet unintrusive.
No bar this fabulous would be complete without a serious bartender behind it, mixing up the best of warm-weather-inspired sips. I sampled both the Paloma and the Hibiscus Margarita- they have nailed the tequila-based cocktails. Presentation is festive and rustic for the Paloma, with a terra cotta and white glazed clay vessel rimmed in Tajin seasoning, garnished with a lime. The Hibiscus Margarita came with flower petals sprinkled over top, delicate in appearance but packs a punch at first sip.
My partner decided to go with an imported beer, of which they have 8 on offer. The standard Corona is available, but I highly recommend venturing out with a Pacifico or Dos XX.
I have said this a million times, but I usually prefer to make a meal out of just appetizers, and Diver definitely allows patrons to do just this. With a Guacamole Bar, Queso Fundido Bar, Quesadilla Bar, AND a Ceviche Bar, fresh flavors abound and allow you to graze and sip. Also, their chips and salsa were on point- I kept the green salsa to pour on the rest of my items.
We ordered the Guacamole with Lobster from the Guacamole Bar. No minuscule shreds hidden throughout- the appetizer came with massive chunks of lobster meat. It was an absolute treat and the ideal way to kick off a shore-inspired meal.
I couldn’t miss sampling the ceviche as well. I often make my own fairly basic ceviche at home but can never get the ratio of lime juice correct so as to not overpower the seafood. Their Shrimp Mango Ceviche was well-balanced, citrus was balanced by the sweet mango and red onion.
Diver offers an assortment of more traditional Mexican dishes as well as lighter fare, like Burrito Bowls and Vegetarian Tacos. The featured item on the menu is a Bone-In Ribeye Carne Asada, and as steak-lovers, we had to partake. It is seasoned to perfection, seared, and served atop grilled onions. The garlic marinade and rosemary chimichurri take an excellent cut and elevate it to gourmet.
I had to also order the Shrimp Tacos since I wanted something lighter for myself. The only thing I would change with this dish is to add a little spice- the mango added a tad too much sweetness for my liking. I ate the entire dish, so obviously, I enjoyed it, though!
When I was younger, we would go to a restaurant called La Senorita for special occasions. Yes, living in a small town, chain restaurants were really our only option for fine dining! I still distinctly remember their fried ice cream, marveling at how they could “fry” something cold. I recall the crispy shell, the velvety ice cream center. When I spotted churros with crusted vanilla ice cream, I knew it would be nostalgic and delicious…and I was right. The perfect sweet treat to top a memorable meal.
Overall, I truly enjoyed Diver- it is an experience, one that transports you away from rainy days to a relaxing oasis. I simply cannot wait until the summer and plan to host regular girl’s nights out on their generous patio, sipping Hibiscus Margaritas and lounging on the white cushioned-teak sofas.
Cheers to a welcome escape from everyday life- Diver Cantina on the Shore is a place to connect and immerse yourself in the Baja beach life!