Back in July, we brought you the news of Dia y Noche, a new dual-concept restaurant slated for a former office building at 6601 Northway, just off the main drag in Historic Downtown Greendale.
After months of work, guests will be able to get their first taste on Tuesday, Jan. 12, when both concepts open to the public.
The synchronistic concept, aptly named Dia y Noche (for Day and Night), includes a cafe and bakery along with a full-service restaurant serving dishes from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Behind the restaurants is Mike Drilling of the Drilling Restaurant Group, who also operates Panther Pub & Eatery, 5651 Broad St. who has gathered a team of talented staff including general manager Taylor Huber and a kitchen team headed up by Bartolotta alums including Executive Chef Rafael Jimenez, Sous Chef Jose Soto and Pastry Chef Areli Romero.
Drilling says he envisioned a restaurant that simultaneously paid homage to the diversity of cuisines of Latin America while offering guests an unparalleled dining experience. And that vision was brought to life with help from partners including Dan Beyer Architects, Braatz Building and artists and craftspeople including Adam Lucks (carpentry) and Adam Nilson (wall art and hand-painted “ghost” signage).
The result is a beautiful space which makes use of bright colors, live plants, acid-washed corrugated metals and dark woods. Together, they form a cohesive mix of both modern and contemporary elements that form two complementary yet distinct venues under one roof.
By day, the counter-service cafe offers a bright, cheerful space to enjoy a quick beverage, breakfast, lunch or a snack.
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer plenty of light, while colorful wall patterns, orange accents and vividly colored overhead beams.
Seating is available at both modern low-top tables and a small cafe counter, which juxtaposes rustic wood elements with bright tile.
On the menu, guests will find a full complement of coffee and espresso drinks, all made with Dia Cafe’s line of custom blended coffee. The blends were created in collaboration with a local coffee roaster and feature light, medium and dark roasts made with beans from Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras.
Specialty drinks include Dia’s signature Latte de Coquito, a drink that conjures the flavors of the coconut-based drink from Puerto Rico featuring espresso, coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg ($4/$4.25). Guests can also enjoy hot or iced tea, smoothies, refrescas (drinks made with fruit purees and tea), along with a variety of bottled beverages from Jarritos and Fanta to chocolate milk.
Daily breakfast offerings include breakfast sandwiches, rice bowls, salads, wraps and soups ($3.95-$7.95) along with housemade bakery items including scones, Salvadoran quesadillas, pastalitos (pastry stuffed with cream or fruit puree), muffins, house-made doughnuts, cookies and marquezote, a traditional Salvadoran sponge cake ($1.50-$3.75).
After 4 p.m., guests can also enjoy the evening side of Dia y Noche at the Noche restaurant, which offers well-appointed seating at low tables and booths surrounded by dark wood paneling which draws both tone and texture from char (via the art of shou sugi ban).
Relax beneath the pergola and enjoy the view of the nascent tropical tree, which has the potential to reach 10 feet in height. Or enjoy the more open areas on the dining floor beneath colorful, decorative fabric accents and astride operable garage-door-like windows which will allow open-air dining (along with a view of the Southern patio and its outdoor fireplace).
Groups can also opt for the well-appointed semi-private dining area overlooking the North patio and its serene stone water feature.
At the bar, guests will find a wide range of beer, wine and cocktails, many with origins in South and Central America or the Caribbean.
Beer lovers will find bottled cervezas from Brazil, Mexico and Peru along with Modelo, Jai Alai and Modelo on tap. Domestic options are also available, including select craft brews. Meanwhile, wine drinkers can discover bubbly from Argentina, white wine from Chile and Uruguay and reds from all of the above, many available by both the bottle or glass.
There are also cocktails for every palate (especially those who love rum) from the crowd-pleasing Pisco sour of Peru (pisco, lime, simple syrup) and the Brazilian Caprinha (cachaca, lime, simple syrup) to Uruguayan Clerico (sangria) made with white wine, brandy, lemon, sugar and chopped fruit.
The bar is also making its own mamajuana, a Dominican rum liqueur enhanced by reed wine, honey, tree bark and herbs aged on wood for weeks and served as a shot.
On the menu, guests will find a collection of tapas and larger plates from three different countries (changing out each quarter). Currently, dishes focus on specialties from Argentina, Chef Jiminez’s home country of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic of which Chef Soto is a native.
Guests will also find hospitible staff trained to guide diners through their experience, introducing them to new dishes and sharing the stories and cultural influences that they represent.
As for dinner options, choices run the gamut from bites like Argentinian empanadas filled with chicken or beef, raisins and olives ($9) to Salvadoran pasteles (masa cakes stuffed with chicken or beef) and served with tomato sauce ($9).
There are also tapas platters like the Salvadorran Tabla Mar y Tierra with grilled prawn, strip steak and vegetables ($15, pictured) or the corresponding Argentinian Asado y Parrilla featuring charred strip steak, Iberico chorizo, prawns, chimichurri and sweet cake ($15).
Larger plates include Salvadoran papusas (corn cakes filled with cheese, pork or loroco and served with pickled cabbage and tomato sauce), $15; and seafood-based selections like Ala Mantequlla with Salvadoran rice and shrimp (or lobster tail, pictured below) cooked with wine and herbed butter ($21/$34).
There are also meat-focused dishes like Dominican La Bandera: seasoned chicken with cranberry beans, Dominican white rice and avocado ($19); and Argentinian locro, a warming dish of Iberico ham, pork, veal, acorn squash, hominy and garbonzo and lima beans ($19, pictured).
Both Dia Cafe and Noche will offer carry-out, as well as dine-in service with curbside pick-up available upon request. Reservations are highly recommended for Noche, which will offer walk-in seating when available. To make a reservation, call the restaurant ar (414) 246-2002.
Opening hours for Dia Cafe will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Noche’s kitchen will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. daily, with later hours for the bar.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.