As much as I love the other dishes on the menu, my heart belongs to the charcoal grilled beef. So on a recent visit in, I decided to throw caution, balance, and common decency to the wind and make a meal comprised of what I love best about Thai Aree.
Irving Park, North Side
This is a tale of two radically different versions of the same dish, the Korean bowl of rice, vegetables, meat and egg. Is one right and one wrong? Or is it all good? Let's find out.
I recommend just digging into the most splendidly barbaric thing on the menu, the platter of shrimp sacrifice to the dining gods they call Charola de Langostinos (which just means, platter of shrimp).
All you really need to know about Smalls is that any time spent reading this post is time away from one of the best new concepts to open up in a while. So bus, bike, drive, or walk your way up California Avenue- because if the lines haven't started forming yet, it's only a matter of time.
With its strolling musicians, dimly lit chandelier lighting, and tuxedoed waiters and waitresses, Sabatino's has a death grip on the Old School Italian vibe that used to signify a fancy meal and entertainment.
Pide ve Lahmacun's hits the perfect note for Turkish breakfast—hearty yet not heavy, a straightforward, unfussy start to the day as crisp as Christmas morning overlooking the Blue Mosque and the lapis lazuli sea.
I know it's July, but restaurants have the tendency to jack up the a/c to wintery temperatures during deep summer. So unless I'm dining al fresco, you'll find me eating something to battle the chill—like tagine.
Unlike just about every other barbecue restaurant I've been to, everything on Smoque BBQ's menu, from the ribs and brisket to the beans and corn bread, is worth ordering. And that's exactly what a group of us did.
La Oaxaqueña may serve some excellent mole, but the restaurant also knows how to grill. In fact, if you see a menu item that spends time over live fire, by all means, order it.
When you walk into Beograd Meat Market, you might expect, as I did, to easily track down the fresh sausage that people talk about in online forums. It's there, but it's kind of hard to find. Just look below the bottles of Orangina.
After a few minutes in Irving Park's La Pane, it became clear to me that every sandwich could potentially be delicious. Each creation is built on some seriously good bread that is crackly and soft, not doughy and tough.
Pork shoulder is smoked for 12 hours before being pulled by hand and plopped between a buttery, pillowy bun. The pink hued meat packs serious smoke flavor, which is only enhanced by the housemade BBQ sauce (go for the more complex spicy if you can handle the kick). A few forkfuls of the sweet and tangy coleslaw brightens everything considerably.
At Mirabell, an old school German spot in Irving Park, they serve classics like the bratwurst—but they're doing things their own way. Case in point: when you order their bratwurst, it comes not just boiled or grilled, but soaked in milk, dipped in egg, and fried in butter. And it's quietly the best traditional bratwurst I've ever eaten
The schnitzel sandwich ($5.00) from Olga's Deli is one of the most ridiculous sandwiches I've ever come across. Featuring five fried layers of meat and measuring approximately six inches tall, this would intimidate even certain gluttonous TV hosts.
Besides sharing a name and a trip to the smoker, Chicago and Texas hot links are fairly different barbecue experiences. The Texas style is a milder and subtler sausage, leaner, but still juicy and haunted by plenty of smokiness.
Thus far, Sausage City has focused mostly on European-influences sausages, in part because Chicago has a strong tradition of Polish, German, and Italian butchers. But that's changing today, because the good news of Thai sausage, in this case from the superb restaurant Thai Aree in Irving Park, is a gospel worth spreading.
Whether it's the stale pita or limp looking meat, I've never had a gyro sandwich I was too excited about. So, why do I keep giving it a chance? Well, there are only so many times I can pass the alluring eyes of the Kronos gyro model before I give in, thinking that it must all be my fault.
This week I challenged myself to locate a stand that served a salad that I could actually get excited about. All roads led to Zebda. Run by Mohammed Djeddour and Katie Garcia, the tiny shop in Irving Park features a menu of Algerian and Mediterranean dishes, with an excellent mix of grilled kebobs and lighter, vegetable-based dishes.
Crust isn't everything. There I said it. Given the quality of the sausage, the well-seasoned salt, and the heaps of real mozzarella (no "pizza cheese" nonsense here), the purely functional crust at Manzo's does not stand in the way of this being a crave-inducing pie.
Dry rub Memphis barbecue. [Flickr: orangachang / CC BY-SA 2.0] Memphis barbecue ain't all that. There, I said it. I expected and wanted Memphis barbecue to be the soul shaking, stomach sating, come-to-Jesus occasion everyone says it is. I...