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.
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I'm just as likely to stick to a place's specialty as anyone, but in D'Candela's case, you'd be well served to dig a little deeper.
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.
I was thinking about bland chicken sandwiches, not only because I see these nameless monstrosities all over, but because there is an alternative in Chicago which is superficially similar, but differs in one small degree—it's not a shameful lying mockery of a sandwich. It is, in fact, the great unknown Chicago sandwich, except for the being great part.
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.
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.
Cordero con frijoles y arroz at D'Candela My good friend Mike Sula, the intrepid food reporter for the Chicago Reader recently told the story of D'Candela, an Irving Park Peruvian joint. It reminded me that I had an incredible...