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Where I Ate in Chicago


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#1 NeroW

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 07:02 PM

Here is a list of some places that I've eaten in Chicago over the past few weeks. Mostly they are just joints in my neighborhood, Logan Square.

Like the Best Mouthfuls lists, these are not fancy places--Wilfrid might call some of them taco trucks. I would love to go to fancy places, but I can't, so here is what I eat instead!

A note: this is an attempt to get some chatter going on this forum! There's only like 60 topics in the whole thing! So where did YOU eat? What neighborhood do YOU live in?


Usagi Ya on the 1100 block of N. Milwaukee

Cute sushi bar on an otherwise rather dark and dreary corner. We sat in a little room facing the street. Our waiter was charmingly idiotic: his cell phone rang during his opening spiel :P yet it was somehow amusing. Very scary manga-like oil paintings on the walls, thank God I was not sitting in full view of them. We had:

-Cold sake (sweeter than any I've had before, mild, almost a rose flavor).
-Big-ass beers.
-Miso.
-Seaweed salad.
-Assorted sashimi chosen by the Chef (it was something like 16 pieces and 2 rolls for $35), acceptable, especially the eel, which I wished for more of and would definitely order again.
-Seafood (shrimp, scallop) noodle soup in a crushed-peanut broth.
-Some sort of lemongrass chicken dish, not memorable.

Taqueria "El Ranchito" (quotation marks theirs), 2800 block of N. Milwaukee

Have ordered from them several times. They deliver 24/7 :o (not that I would EVER need chilaquiles delivered to my house at 5 AM). The first time I got a standard burrito "suizo," stuffed with properly spicy shredded chicken, with great lard-y beans and *meh* rice, and homemade guac that is really just a large and very welcome pile of smushed-up avocado, for $5.00. The second time I had chicken flautas, which were a little worse for the wear after being steamed in the take-out container, but that's my fault. They offer offal (lengua, sesos, y tripes) all over the menu.

Philly's Best, the one on 2400 N. Milwaukee, not the one in Lincoln Park

I ordered a chicken cheesesteak with garlic spread and fries. The sandwich gave me the shits and the fries sucked.

Festa Pizzaria, 3500 block of W. Fullerton

Homemade thin crust with a nice bit of char. We had a pizza with ham (and other things) on it, and they used large pieces of salami that had been sliced on the slicer. Very, very cheap. Will try it again, again with ham. I just wish they had banana peppers. Giardiniera doesn't do it for me on a pizza.

Friendship Chinese, 2800 block of N. Milwaukee

Brings your delivery to you piping-hot in a large cake box. This place is solid. Chocolate fortune cookies even! A little pricier than standard Chinese takeout, but worth it, and the portions are generous. We've tried:

-"Old-fashioned" egg rolls (as opposed to the spring rolls or the cigar rolls also offered). The example of what an egg roll should be. Crunchy and stuffed with ground pork and little bits of ginger and tender cabbage. Served with a red garlic chile sauce.
-Sesame chicken, an absolute mountain of it.
-Whisky BBQ shrimp, perfectly-stirfried large tail-on shrimp in a rather cloying sauce that I didn't really like, but others did.
-Shiitake mushrooms with spinach--umami central. Very good. Used whole shiitakes.
-Beef Chow Fun and Singapore Rice Noodles (pork & shrimp). I made a nice little soup out of the leftover rice noodles the next day.
-Both pork & shrimp fried rice, appropriate.

Vito Angelo's, 3600 W. Fullerton

For deep dish and stuffed pizza. The counter ladies are hilarious. One of them is always standing outside smoking a cigarette and when I walk past her she says: "Cali-fuckin'-ente, isn't it?" They have a lot of other stuff on the menu but I just came for the pizza. We did try the wings once and I won't mention what happened to me after that (see Philly's Best above).

Handlebar, North & Western

Bad service marred it from the beginning, and then the food sucked too! A place that touts its vegetarian and vegan foods should learn to properly cook their fucking collards, even if they are doing it without pork. These collards had been rough-chopped, as with romaine, and briefly pan-steamed. No fucking pot liquor in sight and chewy like a flip-flop. Mashed potatoes were without flavor--made with a total lack of love. Sesame noodles with tofu, snap peas and bok choy were mysteriously lacking snap peas and bok choy, but the tofu was nice and crisp on the outside. There were a few good things: the fries were hand-cut and tasty, the drinks were shudderingly strong, they serve Bell's Kalamazoo Stout, they played a Siouxie and the Banshees CD, and they had incendiary political posters behind the bar. You'll like this place if you are a snotty bike messenger who doesn't give a shit about food.

El Pacifico, 3500 W. Fullerton

Cheap Mexican place. Open late. They put out a dish of very spicy, lightly pickled vegetables with the chips and salsa.

Lula, 2700 N. Kedzie

Someone very emo decorated this place: the walls of the bar are festooned with toy soldiers, pins, and old Polaroids, and beneath the glass on the bar are displays of toy cars and toy airplanes. We went on a weeknight and it was jammed. We will go back, probably for the much-touted brunch. We had:

-Blackberry bellinis, mmm.
-House salad, a nice stack of spicy greens (didn't come from a bag, me thinks) dressed with a lemon-caper dressing (heavy garlic), strewn about with Kalamata olives, tomatoes, etc.
-"Pot pie" with lobster mushrooms, Italian greens, radishes, English peas, and new potatoes, sauce was a tarragon curry. Served with a butter biscuit. Very solid technically. Greens were braised to a T, and the potaotes were toothy. Tarragon flavor came through in the curry.
-Grilled organic pork loin with crispy polenta cubes, prosciutto-wrapped green beans, plum sauce, and natural jus. Quite a flavorful example of pork.
-White sea bass (pan-roasted, I believe) with Manilla clams and clam broth, English peas, baby turnips and radishes remoulade.
-Housemade honey ice cream.

El Cid #2, also on Kedzie, a few doors down from Lula

El Cid rules. Sit on the back patio, it's like another world. Plus it's fun to walk down the long hallway when you've had a few. Every other Wednesday they have a flamenco dancer and her guitarist on the patio--really good. There is also a ladies' knitting club that meets out there on Wednesday. It's amusing to watch them knit and drink tequila at the same time. Go for the margaritas (mango, on the rocks), the carnitas taco plate, the Cuban, the fajitas mixtos, the fish taco plate, the whole red snapper, the friendly servers--just go. And bring me back some fajitas mixtos when you do.

The Pontiac, on Damen, right underneath the Damen L stop on the Blue Line

A Wicker Park staple for people-watching. Try the Pontiac, a prosciutto sandwich. Also try the cheeseburgers and fries. It's a limited menu--you're just there to see the fucked-up dogs that people buy.

Hot Doug's Encased Meats Emporium, California and Roscoe

Doug has been discussed at length on sites like eGullet, and that's because Doug is The Shit. What a cutie, with his CIA degree and his big black glasses. I can't wait until my sister, Fritz Brenner, comes to visit, and we can attend Doug's together. Every Friday and Saturday they have duck fat fries and there is a line out the door (don't worry, it moves fast). That should be all you need to know, but in case you need to know more, here are some sausages I've eaten there recently: foie gras and Sauternes, with truffled sauce moutarde and goat cheese, and pork and mushroom with horseradish mayonnaise, Serrano ham, and caramelized onion. Check the specials menu on the Internet before you go, or just order from the equally-tasty regular menu. There is always a "Game Sausage of the Week." Soundtrack is Sex Pistols. Go right now.


I know there are more places that I've eaten, but who cares? The question is: where have you eaten?

I would be particularly grateful for some mid-priced lunch recs in the Michigan Ave. & Wacker Drive area (I know, downtown). My BF works in the Wrigley Bldg. and is sick of Corner Bakery every day.
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#2 guajolote

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 09:04 PM

I would be particularly grateful for some mid-priced lunch recs in the Michigan Ave. & Wacker Drive area (I know, downtown). My BF works in the Wrigley Bldg. and is sick of Corner Bakery every day.

billy goat. duh :P


i'm a big fan of el cid. have you been to irazu, on about 1800 milwaukee? they have great costa rican food.

recently:
2 bahn mi from ba le
old skool chineze, complete with 50s, 60s, and 70s decor, from wing hoe on sheridan in edgewater. they even had fancy drinks in 1/2 coconuts, which i didn't order :o. this place was surprisingly good.
steak burrrito from el famous

#3 fritz brenner

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 05:38 PM

... i want to be in chicago... :o

thanks for posting this.

#4 NeroW

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 04:36 PM

I would be particularly grateful for some mid-priced lunch recs in the Michigan Ave. & Wacker Drive area (I know, downtown).  My BF works in the Wrigley Bldg. and is sick of Corner Bakery every day.

billy goat. duh :o

Guajolote, he ate at the Billy Goat the other day. He had a cheeseburger.

The other night we ate at Yak-Zie's on Diversey and Pine Grove because we were in the neighborhood drinking. Great wings, some of the best I've had.
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#5 omnivorette

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:32 PM

I gotta get my butt to Chicago.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#6 NeroW

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 06:10 AM

I gotta get my butt to Chicago.

Please do! We like butts. :o

Yesterday I had lunch at Cafe Iberico, on LaSalle between Chicago and Superior. One of my favorite places for tapas! We had a few pitchers of white sangria, mixed olives (theirs are the best and they sell them in their deli), patatas bravas, queso de cabra, housemade chorizos y morcillas, small clams, and a braised veal dish. Iberico has been good every single time I've eaten there. Their chorizos are all different shapes, which is somehow charming, and a spot-on blend of sweet and spicy.

Afterwards we went to Club Lago at Superior and Orleans. The best fucking bar in the city and owned/operated by the best fucking dudes ever. Giancarlo and Guido Nardini, you guys rule.
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#7 fentona

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 08:55 AM

Philly's Best, the one on 2400 N. Milwaukee, not the one in Lincoln Park

I ordered a chicken cheesesteak with garlic spread and fries.  The sandwich gave me the shits and the fries sucked.

Well, duh. I could've told you that it'd suck, just from the name. What, aren't there any Italian beef places around? :o
Andrew Fenton

#8 guajolote

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 01:31 PM

Afterwards we went to Club Lago at Superior and Orleans. The best fucking bar in the city and owned/operated by the best fucking dudes ever. Giancarlo and Guido Nardini, you guys rule.

yes, this place rocks :o.

iberico sells those chorizos in their deli.

#9 NeroW

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 06:20 PM

Philly's Best, the one on 2400 N. Milwaukee, not the one in Lincoln Park

I ordered a chicken cheesesteak with garlic spread and fries.  The sandwich gave me the shits and the fries sucked.

Well, duh. I could've told you that it'd suck, just from the name. What, aren't there any Italian beef places around? :o

I'm an Italian beef snob and there is really only one that I like, at Mr. Beef on Orleans.

I know a few people who swear by the Philly's Best in Lincoln Park, so I don't know what's up with the one in my neighborhood, but it was truly dismal. :P
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#10 Vital Information

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 12:20 AM

I'm an Italian beef snob and there is really only one that I like, at [b]Mr. Beef on Orleans. 

I cannot agree with you on Mr. Beef. In my experience (and I've done extensive tastings in the last year or so), I'd put Mr. Beef solidly in the 2nd tier of beef stands, not bad at all, but not nearly as good as Al's, Johnnies, Freddy's, Chickies, or a few others.

Places I've eaten at within the last few weeks:

Well, Chicago has an abundance of very good Eastern European places. Klas is VERY old school a castle within a restaurant (or is that a restaurant in a castle). Lately, this remment of Cicero Bohemia has been pretty empty, and the food's been so-so (but the value outstanding). On Friday, they hosted a Czech art show/rave-up (look, real Bohemians!), and it filled the house. The food, breaded cutlets, potato dumplings, ligher than usual liver dumpling soup, assorted salads, kolachy's, was better than ever.

A favorite Polish spot is Halina. If nothing else, get the soups. Lunch the other day included cucumber soup and fried liver.

Grota is a Polish buffet, which serves much better food than you expect. Of course you get soup first. I got dill with soft dough dumplings. Then, you watch what's getting placed on the buffet and grab that first. Blood sausage, stuffed cabbage, fried fish. To fill in the gaps in the tummy, there's potato dumplings, boiled potatoes, blintzes, pierogis, potato pancakes, roasted potatoes and noodles with fried onions.

There is a LOT of great Mexicn food, including regional offering from Puebla, Oaxaca, Jalisco, Nayarit, D.F., Durango, Michohoacan, San Lois Potosi, and probably a few more I have yet found (although as far as I can tell, no true Vera Cruz and NO Yucataneo.) But the best Mexican food, week in, week out, is at Maxwell Street Market. Sunday only.

Or Maybe the best Mexican food is an hour South of Chicago in Joliet.

A fair amount of foodies will concede good Polish and good Mexican in Chicago, but good ice cream? Some will claim there aint any around here. Well, where's here? Go South young man (woman) to South Holland, Cunis Candy. Equally great, Mitchell's and Gayety..

I mentioned Freddy's above for beef. Probably the best "small" Italian market around. I was there the other day, admired all their house made salads, sausages, hams. Got a slice of deep dish sausage pizza and took home one of my favorite breads.

I guess that covers eating out in Chicago the last week or so. I was in Milwaukee too. That's for some other thread.

Rob
Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie

Just as long as you leave my "Alinea II: Electric Boogaloo" thing alone. - jinmyo

The Local Beet

#11 awbrig

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:19 AM

Acutally had a surprising great meal at Cafe Baba-Reeba last week. Yes, it LEYE so you know that it is run well. Plus, the food is extremely delicious.
  • Once, during prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
  • I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
  • I'm not saying my wife's a bad cook, but she uses a smoke alarm as a timer.

#12 NeroW

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 11:08 PM

I'm an Italian beef snob and there is really only one that I like, at [b]Mr. Beef on Orleans. 

I cannot agree with you on Mr. Beef. In my experience (and I've done extensive tastings in the last year or so), I'd put Mr. Beef solidly in the 2nd tier of beef stands, not bad at all, but not nearly as good as Al's, Johnnies, Freddy's, Chickies, or a few others.

Chickies?!? Nooooo! :D

Thanks for the rec (and the link) for the Polish buffet place. We've been seeking out a good place (BF is Polish). If you don't mind, what's the nearest major intersection?

Awbrig, I haven't been to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! in a while but the last time I was there I wanted to roll around naked in the queso de cabra. :P

LEYE? Lettuce Entertain You??? :o
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#13 awbrig

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 09:41 PM

Nero -

When you have a few bucks for lunch check out the maki rolls at Blue Water Grill. We had the crispy lobster and the filet mignon/wasabi rolls and they were soooo awesome. The entrees were uninspired and would skip those the next time...

Its also very very swanky...They also have live jazz upstairs every evening starting at happy hour. Cool new place!
  • Once, during prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.
  • I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
  • I'm not saying my wife's a bad cook, but she uses a smoke alarm as a timer.

#14 NeroW

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 05:35 AM

Nero -

When you have a few bucks for lunch check out the maki rolls at Blue Water Grill. We had the crispy lobster and the filet mignon/wasabi rolls and they were soooo awesome. The entrees were uninspired and would skip those the next time...

Its also very very swanky...They also have live jazz upstairs every evening starting at happy hour. Cool new place!

My friend works on the line at Blue Water. We have plans to go in the next few weeks but only for the raw bar. BTW they have just changed chefs de cuisine and from what I hear the menu is suffering for it.
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin

#15 NeroW

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 12:06 AM

Just a note: I've eaten at Cafe Iberico a few more times in the past week or so :lol: and I am extremely disappointed that they have removed the lightly-pickled whole garlic cloves from their mixed olives. :lol: :lol:

The jars they sell in the deli still have garlic cloves, but they are sliced. How could they change something that was so perfect?

Can't think of any new places to report. Tried to stop at Trotter's To Go the other day when I was in the neighborhood but the amateurs don't open until 11 AM :lol:

Awbrig, I'm sure you've been to this place. What of it?
We eat so many shrimp, we got iodine poisonin