The first time I had Diana Davila's food, she was the chef at an Oak Forest restaurant (owned by her parents) with the uninspiring name Hacienda Jalapenos. Her cooking was polished and sophisticated — indeed, a bit more sophisticated than the market would bear back then — but "cooking down" to her audience wasn't Davila's style, even as a 21-year-old.
Fast-forward a dozen years, and Davila was in Andersonville at Cantina 1910, a short-lived restaurant that probably deserved a better fate. I was on the verge of reviewing that place, quite positively despite a rather erratic front-of-the-house operation, when Davila abruptly resigned her post. (She still doesn't discuss the why of that departure, but it wasn't happy.)
I would have sung the praises of her passionate cooking then. I'm happy to do so now.
Davila now hangs out in Logan Square, answering to nobody as chef and owner of Mi Tocaya Antojeria, which opened in mid-March. Find out what earns her accolades now at the Chicago Tribune.