AMK Kitchen Bar's website describes its concept as "classic American comfort food with a Bucktown twist." I'm not entirely sure what a Bucktown twist is, but I suspect that it's reflected in the exposed brick walls, garage-door front (open when the weather allows), whiskey bar, and extensive beer list. While everything seemed sort of generically hip, the space is warm (on a 90-degree day, quite literally) and welcoming, service is attentive, and the food as comforting as can be.
Comfort food isn't always appealing when it's hot and humid, but that didn't stop us from loading up on cheese, meat, fried stuff, and carbs of all kinds. (Actually, that describes most of the menu apart from a few salads.) Some of the menu items seem a little gimmicky—Dorito pie, for example, or "turducken" meatballs—so naturally, we ordered them. The first, Cool Ranch Doritos topped with chili, cheddar, sour cream, and pico de gallo, were the kind of late-night food every drunk deserves, a combination meant to be inhaled rather than contemplated. Meanwhile, the meatballs turned out to be a mix of ground chicken, turkey, and duck meat, rather than one stuffed inside another stuffed inside another. My dining companion said that this disqualified them from true "turducken" status, but also thought that they were the perfect meatball—light in texture, nicely seasoned, and neither dry nor greasy.
Turducken meatballs with spicy red sauce and garlic cheese bread
Similarly, we forgave an order of chicken wings its lack of sauce (the wings are dry-rubbed with spices) after the combination of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors and crispy skin won us over. The mac 'n' cheese and a wild mushroom pizza were also solid: the former featuring a blend of five cheeses and a jalapeno bacon crust, the latter thin-crusted, with a garlicky cream sauce, sautéed onions, and arugula. We didn't have room for dessert, but the Night Cap—a cocktail of Templeton rye, raspberry Luxardo, and plum bitters—would make a fine substitute.
AMK Kitchen Bar, 1954 W. Armitage, 773-276-4400, amkchicago.com.