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Who's Who Chicago: Centerstage People
Dana Kavan
As a child living in Omaha, Dana wore a faded T-shirt with a neon-color skyline and dreamt of living among the tall buildings. After graduating from the University of Iowa and spending months eating bread and cheese three times a day while traveling Europe, she moved to Chicago and has since learned that in the city of big shoulders, the little things mean so much more. She finds joy in living equidistant from two farmers markets; having to choose between two festivals in one weekend; and standing at an intersection where every corner calls a different culture its own. Countless hobbies fill her free time, but no matter what she’s doing, she prefers to do it outdoors and with friends.

Dana worked in development and fundraising for a nonprofit for three years. She joined the Centerstage team in September 2006 as the writer of the weekly column Bar Tab Tales, which profiles her quest for drink specials and special drinks.


Articles by Dana

Playing the Name Game at the Dana Hotel
Bar Tab Tales. 01/27/2009.
Dana has a vain adventure at ajasteak.

Warming Up With Hot Sin
Bar Tab Tales. 01/13/2009.
You won't feel bad about indulging in O'Donovan's Winter Warmer cocktails.

Hubba Hubba
Bar Tab Tales. 12/30/2008.
You'll have trouble focusing on the unfocused menu at HUB 51 after a glass or two of punch.

Brotherly Love
Bar Tab Tales. 12/16/2008.
The Village Tap's extensive beer selection offers great comfort in any season.

Mana Mania
Bar Tab Tales. 11/30/2008.
What pairs best with some of the city's best meat-free food? White sangria, of course.

Passion Fruit Power Hour
Bar Tab Tales. 11/18/2008.
The Wicked Wahine gives a juicy, peppery kick to a meal at sola.

Dirty Martini
Bar Tab Tales. 11/03/2008.
Dana needs a movie-themed martini to get through "Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage."

Wrigleyville Uber Alles
Bar Tab Tales. 10/21/2008.
Uberstein may not be authentically German, but after a hefty stein or two, you won't mind.

Prix-Fixe Pleasure
Bar Tab Tales. 10/14/2008.
Buona Terra doesn't skimp on its fixed-price menu, and that's why Dana keeps coming back for more.

Uncommonly Good
Bar Tab Tales. 10/06/2008.
Have a cocktail with your eggs, and you just might help out some animals in need.

Gulpin' Like Gatsby
Bar Tab Tales. 09/25/2008.
Dana celebrates her birthday with a long-awaited visit to Sepia, and finds the cocktails nearly match the food.

Manhattan Project
Bar Tab Tales. 09/16/2008.
Dana squeezes into the Matchbox for a sip of its signature drink.

Gin Fizz Fo' Shizz
Bar Tab Tales. 09/10/2008.
Paramount Room may act like a beer bar, but it offers some killer cocktails, too.

Brand-New Booze
Bar Tab Tales. 09/02/2008.
Dana investigates a hot new restaurant, and finds the drinks just might overshadow the food.

Getting Tanked
Bar Tab Tales. 08/20/2008.
Tank Sushi's Red Octopus cocktail may just be a cosmo in disguise...but it ain't half bad.

Summertime, and the Parking's Easy
Bar Tab Tales. 08/12/2008.
Goose Island offers a refreshing summer brew, and decent bar food to boot.

Breakfast Club
Bar Tab Tales. 07/30/2008.
Dana gets her egg-white on at a new Lincoln Park bistro.

How Sweet It Is
Bar Tab Tales. 07/22/2008.
Dana sips an unusual concoction on Avenue M's secluded outdoor patio.

Whisked Away at the Violet Hour
Bar Tab Tales. 07/15/2008.
Dana goes incognito to find a drink that's just right.

Vin for a Fin
Bar Tab Tales. 07/08/2008.
Frasca's $5 wine deal is as good as it sounds.

Goin' Crazy for Cava
Bar Tab Tales. 06/30/2008.
Dana celebrates summer with some sparkling sangria at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba.

A Ginger Zinger
Bar Tab Tales. 06/24/2008.
Le Colonial's upscale Vietnamese fare demands a high-class cocktail to match.

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot
Bar Tab Tales. 06/20/2008.
Hot Chocolate's decadent drinks and desserts help awaken Dana's dormant sweet tooth.

The Perfect Pour
Bar Tab Tales. 06/11/2008.
Dana finds she doesn't have to go far from home for a good meal and a tasty drink.

Le Passage: All Grown Up
Bar Tab Tales. 06/04/2008.
A more mature Cubanola leaves Dana wanting more.

Gettin' Gritty
Bar Tab Tales. 05/27/2008.
Dana goes up north to try a classic Southern cocktail...and to have another go at a popular side dish.

Stepping on Sake's Terrain
Bar Tab Tales. 05/20/2008.
Dana samples a Japanese liquor that's said to be as healthy as it is flavorful.

Friday After Work
Bar Tab Tales. 05/12/2008.
Dana finds a Friday-night deal that makes the real world seem not so cruel after all.

South Beach-style Sipping
Bar Tab Tales. 05/06/2008.
Chaise Lounge's open-air space, refreshing drinks and delicate plates channel a Miami vibe.

A Safe Bet
Bar Tab Tales. 04/29/2008.
Fifty/50's clever beer-based cocktails and superior bar eats add up to a night well spent.

Hailing Hopleaf
Bar Tab Tales. 04/22/2008.
It's not exactly news, but the popular pub continues to impress with its exceptional beer list and rave-worthy eats.

A Cider with the Sunrise
Bar Tab Tales. 04/15/2008.
After waking up at an ungodly hour to catch a UK soccer match, Dana discovers her new favorite breakfast beverage.

The Incredible, Edible Guinness Mimosa
Bar Tab Tales. 04/07/2008.
With its zippy huevos rancheros and creative cocktails, Flo restores Dana's faith in eggs.

When in Rome...Drink Aperol
Bar Tab Tales. 03/31/2008.
A popular Italian aperitivo tastes just as good stateside.

Champagne for a Lady
Bar Tab Tales. 03/24/2008.
Sexist martinis aside, D.O.C.'s Ladies' Night isn't a bad way to spend a weeknight boozing.

A Slice of Springtime
Bar Tab Tales. 03/17/2008.
A seasonal slump is no match for Cafe Bolero's tropical libations and island fare.

I Take My Coffee with Baileys
Bar Tab Tales. 03/10/2008.
Dana samples a lackluster buffet for the sake of building her own spiked coffee.

The Island Life's for Me
Bar Tab Tales. 03/05/2008.
Throw in some tropical fruit juices with a whole lot of rum and you've got a killer punch.

Hammering it Out While Getting Hammered
Bar Tab Tales. 02/24/2008.
Dana and her pal finally see eye-to-eye after a couple drinks and a plate of plantains.

Bravo to Crew
Bar Tab Tales. 02/18/2008.
If only Dana had known about Crew's Project Runway screenings and massive martinis before getting cable.

Give Back, Drink Up
Bar Tab Tales. 02/12/2008.
Aria bar's refreshing take on a mojito is the perfect reward for a volunteer job well done.

Bloody Mary to the Rescue
Bar Tab Tales. 02/05/2008.
With a tasty bloody mary in hand, Dana finds brunch at Tweet is worth the wait.

La Finca Keeps it Simple
Bar Tab Tales. 01/29/2008.
A no-frills margarita and mouthwatering chips make a Mexican restaurant memorable.

Tickle Me Pink
Bar Tab Tales. 01/21/2008.
Dana sets her sights on a beer blend off of Fat Cat's massive drink menu.

Sake 101
Bar Tab Tales. 01/14/2008.
A sake sampler teaches an important lesson about the world of rice wine.

Welcoming in Old Town
Bar Tab Tales. 01/08/2008.
Though it sounds ironic, sipping an ice-cold vodka lemonade at Fireplace Inn hits the spot.

Malted Barley, Hops and...Mustard Seeds?
Bar Tab Tales. 12/31/2007.
A beer brewed with an unlikely ingredient adds a slight zing to a cozy dinner out.

In a Pickle
Bar Tab Tales. 12/27/2007.
Faced with a list of more than 100 sandwiches and as many brews, Dana opts for fail-safe suds.

Festive Fun at Friar Tuck
Bar Tab Tales. 12/18/2007.
A dressed-up take on a White Russian starts a bar crawl off sweetly.

The Gift of Glogg
Bar Tab Tales. 12/11/2007.
A toasty mug of Scandinavian glogg warms the belly and makes Dana's must-do holiday list.

Not Playing Favorites
Bar Tab Tales. 12/04/2007.
Dana finds a lovely libation at a thin-crust joint, but she's not swearing off deep-dish altogether.

A Buzz for a Buck
Bar Tab Tales. 11/27/2007.
Dana tests out the "hair of the dog" theory with $1 mimosas at Joey's Brick House.

Now and Zen
Bar Tab Tales. 11/19/2007.
A newly hopping 'hood offers plenty of pre-concert cocktail choices.

Left with Leffe in Little Italy
Bar Tab Tales. 11/12/2007.
On her second pasta-free trip to Taylor Street, Dana visits (where else?) an Irish tap.

XO Marks the Spot
Bar Tab Tales. 11/06/2007.
A lounge achieves landmark status with its doozy of a drink list.

Dusting Off the Clubbing Cobwebs
Bar Tab Tales. 10/29/2007.
Dana makes her grand return to the club scene with a Halloween-inspired cocktail at Manor.

Mixing it up with Mango
Bar Tab Tales. 10/22/2007.
A pre-concert pit stop at Raw Bar brings out the martinis and memories.

Wait, Wait...Do Beer Me!
Bar Tab Tales. 10/15/2007.
Dana snags a discounted pint at a trader bar before heading to a taping of NPR's quiz show.

Sipping in Season
Bar Tab Tales. 10/08/2007.
An apple-flavored cocktail pairs perfectly with Italian food and makes up for a trip done wrong.

Swallowing Skepticism
Bar Tab Tales. 10/01/2007.
A martini with an intriguing ingredient and mega slices of fish squash Dana's misconceptions.

A Sampling of Suds
Bar Tab Tales. 09/25/2007.
Chicago Ale House packs in the taps, slinging out brews in sizes meant for sampling.

Making Progress by the Pint
Bar Tab Tales. 09/17/2007.
Flounder's cheap Miller Lite and tacos for less than two bucks fit the pre-film bill perfectly.

From Paninis to Pinot
Bar Tab Tales. 09/10/2007.
Dana's favorite lunchtime sandwich spot doubles as the perfect post-work place for a glass of wine.

A Drinking Distraction
Bar Tab Tales. 09/03/2007.
Though the night began with saketinis at China Grill, Dana had other plans for a summer night out.

Pre-Season Pitchers
Bar Tab Tales. 08/27/2007.
Dana warms up for college football season with a stop at Sedgwick's for discounted pitchers of Blue Moon.

Plum Good Libation
Bar Tab Tales. 08/20/2007.
Forget email and phone calls. Dana finds a better way to stay in touch with friends at Oysy.

A Model Martini
Bar Tab Tales. 08/14/2007.
After sipping her way through plenty of too-sweet martinis, Dana finds the perfect blend at Japonais.

No Love for 40s
Bar Tab Tales. 07/30/2007.
Despite lacking a drink list and hawking 40s, LBC wins over Dana with its upbeat tunes.

Mojitos Made Up My Mind
Bar Tab Tales. 07/23/2007.
Narrowing down her nightlife choices, Dana opts for an evening of art and a minty concoction.

Playtime Meets Party Time
Bar Tab Tales. 07/16/2007.
Martini Park helps Dana retreat to her recess days…had her local playground served martinis.

Seriously Sweet Brew
Bar Tab Tales. 07/09/2007.
Dana scores a glass of the seasonally scare Shugga and a saucy pie at Bricks.

Mixing Politics and Pleasure
Bar Tab Tales. 07/01/2007.
Dana pops into Plan B for a post-work cocktail and finds a refreshing ode to Obama in a glass.

Don't Shrink My Beer!
Bar Tab Tales. 06/25/2007.
Dana opens her mind to mini drinks and fare at Halsted's family-friendly joint.

A Winning Round
Bar Tab Tales. 06/17/2007.
At Gamekeepers, my volleyball team learns it's not whether you win or lose, but how you score cheap burgers and beer.

Where the Glass is Greener
Bar Tab Tales. 06/11/2007.
Eco-friendly trumps economically-friendly in Dana's book after an evening at Crust.

Oh, Cabana!
Bar Tab Tales. 06/04/2007.
Any patio will do, but Volo's does it best when it comes to sipping wine cabana-side.

Change of Bar Scene
Bar Tab Tales. 05/22/2007.
Head to Riverview when you want to hit up a bar but not get hit on.

Cheap Wine Fits All
Bar Tab Tales. 05/14/2007.
After much indecision on where to dine, Dana and co. land happily at Quartino for small plates and cheap pours.

Breakfast Beverages Beat the Buffet
Bar Tab Tales. 05/08/2007.
Stanley's legendary mimosas and bloody marys tame Dana's hangover with fresh juicy flavor.

Miami Liquefied
Bar Tab Tales. 05/01/2007.
J Bar's Cuban-inspired cocktail sets Dana back in South Beach.

A Margarita that Moves Me
Bar Tab Tales. 04/24/2007.
Tarascas' strong and bargain 'ritas welcome me to the neighborhood.

Positive Thinking, Happy Drinking
Bar Tab Tales. 04/16/2007.
In my hour of need, SushiSamba Rio comes through with its bento-box bargain.

A Tapa by Any Other Name…
Bar Tab Tales. 04/09/2007.
I could've been the brains behind the small-plate trend. Instead, I'm just another happy consumer.

Bourbon Therapy
Bar Tab Tales. 03/30/2007.
Dana overcomes an aversion to bourbon at the most logical bar in town.

Upscale Eats, Unexceptional Drinks
Bar Tab Tales. 03/26/2007.
Pasteur cooks up innovative Vietnamese fare but offers no fun drinks to wash it down.

You Don't Have to Spell It to Drink It
Bar Tab Tales. 03/19/2007.
After tasty Turkish food and half a bottle of unpronounceable wine, cashing a coupon loses its stigma.

Join My Club
Bar Tab Tales. 03/13/2007.
Membership benefits include tasty Peruvian cuisine and a Pisco Sour buzz.

Call it the Luck of the Irish
Bar Tab Tales. 03/04/2007.
Wearing green and drinking Guinness doesn't make you Irish, but it sure is fun.

Give Me the Boot!
Bar Tab Tales. 02/26/2007.
We all know sharing is the right thing to do, so do it right with two liters of German beer in a boot.

Drink at Your Own Risk
Bar Tab Tales. 02/19/2007.
Take your chances and try out Tsuki's killer maki and bargain martinis.

Chicago's Piece of the Microbrewery Pie
Bar Tab Tales. 02/12/2007.
With few microbrew options, any beer-swilling Chicagoan will appreciate Piece's celebrated pints.

...Indoor Rock Climb?
So You Wanna.... 02/05/2007.
Indoor rock climbing gets altitude junkies off the ground—and the rest of us in shape.

New Lounge, New Perspective
Bar Tab Tales. 02/05/2007.
Krem's all the rage, and I won't hold the hype against it or its champagne cocktails.

Kevin Rebhan
There's plenty of champagne love to go around at Pops for Champagne.

Bring Your Own Tolerance
Bar Tab Tales. 01/29/2007.
After enjoying too much wine at a BYOB, Salpicon's outstanding tequila selection couldn't be avoided.

Where Southport Avenue Meets Bourbon Street
Bar Tab Tales. 01/22/2007.
Throw on some beads and hold up a Hurricane to toast a bar that embodies the Big Easy.

The Duke Knows Scotch
Bar Tab Tales. 01/15/2007.
As one of the only Scottish pubs in town, The Duke of Perth will make you a believer with its single-malt selection.

Belly's Steals Are The Real Deal
Bar Tab Tales. 01/08/2007.
With four drink specials and cheap apps, Thursday nights out are once again a done deal.

With The Grafton's Help, You're Good to the Last Drop
Bar Tab Tales. 01/01/2007.
A special Irish coffee packs plenty of whiskey and caffeine to help you maintain.

Three a.m. is Intoxicating Tea Time
Bar Tab Tales. 12/25/2006.
Everyone ends up at the Green Mill sooner or later.

On My Way to a Delirious Noel
Bar Tab Tales. 12/18/2006.
Glunz makes it better by pouring a holiday brew in the right package.

Broadway in Chicago Tour
Take A Tour. 12/18/2006.
For appreciating Chicago's theaters, the tour upstages the show.

Food Flights Take Off
Dining Guides. 12/18/2006.
These food flights—plentiful platters and tasty trios—let you sample one fare several ways.

Rare Wine Well Done
Bar Tab Tales. 12/11/2006.
Wind down the weekend with a glass of wine at Webster's Wine Bar, where you'll pick up a vino vocab to boot.

The #1 Daiquiri
Bar Tab Tales. 12/04/2006.
De Cero's fruit-filled daiquiris and tasty tacos deserve bragging rights.

The Good, the Bad and the Cheap Tab
Bar Tab Tales. 11/27/2006.
Double fisting beer is a-okay when it's time for a taste test.

Good Drinks Come to Those Who Wait
Bar Tab Tales. 11/20/2006.
For Iberico's sweet sangria, patience pays off.

Infused-Vodka Martinis? Yes, Please!
Bar Tab Tales. 11/13/2006.
Innovative vodka tops basic cable for midweek amusement.

How About a Bloody, Buddy?
Bar Tab Tales. 11/06/2006.
With enough decisions to make in life, why make 10 about a Bloody Mary?

Quantity Trumps Quality in Round One
Bar Tab Tales. 10/30/2006.
A Schooner at Lotties classes up cheap beer in large quantities.

For the Sake of Sake
Bar Tab Tales. 10/23/2006.
A lesson in drinking stand-out sake the right way at Shine Morida.

Buffed and Buzzed
Bar Tab Tales. 10/16/2006.
An unlikely locale offers a cheap solution to nasty nails and a thirst for martinis.

Make Mine Minty
Bar Tab Tales. 10/10/2006.
Draining cheap pitchers of mojitos (on a Friday, no less!) at Mambo Grill.

Theatre Reviews by Dana

Venues Reviewed by Dana

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