Chi-town

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

uhockey wrote:"Big Star" - who'd've-thunk it? :-) Also owned by Kahan.
Did you really not know, Dapuma, or are you just taunting me? Because if it's the latter, well done :-)
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:
uhockey wrote:"Big Star" - who'd've-thunk it? :-) Also owned by Kahan.
Did you really not know, Dapuma, or are you just taunting me? Because if it's the latter, well done :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsA4FnwrR7E
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Lunchbox
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7 years ago

uhockey wrote:
Skillet Doux wrote:
uhockey wrote:"Big Star" - who'd've-thunk it? :-) Also owned by Kahan.
Did you really not know, Dapuma, or are you just taunting me? Because if it's the latter, well done :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsA4FnwrR7E
Well played sir... :D
-- LBX

Instagram: @zachary.garcia

Twitter: @zach_garcia
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:
uhockey wrote:"Big Star" - who'd've-thunk it? :-) Also owned by Kahan.
Did you really not know, Dapuma, or are you just taunting me? Because if it's the latter, well done :-)
Had no idea that Big Star was Kahan owned or even what it was until we got there, looks like we kept the flavor of the weekend going :)

I am glad I was able to taunt you at the same time :mrgreen:
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:Since I know some folks are planning upcoming Chicago trips, Alinea just released its ticket on-sale dates for the next few months:
Alinea Website wrote:Tickets for the months of September and October will be released for sale on Saturday, August 25.
Please note that Alinea will be closed the week of October 10 - 14 for a private event.

November will become available Wednesday, September 12
December will become available Wednesday, October 10
January will become available Wednesday, November 7

Please note that we will also make tables available via our Facebook page from time to time, including Same Night and Same Week tables. Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for details. This allows visitors to Chicago and last minute planners an opportunity to dine with us on short notice, while allowing Alinea to maintain some flexibility in planning.
Hey Dom - I'll buy ya dinner sometime if you can score me tickets for November 15/16/17/18 or 22/23/24/25 tomorrow. ;) You seem to have a nack for the ticket sales.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Dumb luck. But if said luck continues, I'll let you know :-)
Dominic Armato
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:Dumb luck. But if said luck continues, I'll let you know :-)
Its all good. Will be there 11/16. :-)
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Okay Dominic, entering your wheelhouse here (even if you never send me a banner.)

I'll be in Chicago from 11/14 5pm to 11/19 6am. First off, if you need anything brought back from the Windy City that you just can't get here let me know - flying southwest and taking enough baggage to stock up on Intelligentsia.

Obviously will be hitting the finer dining hard (EL Ideas again, Alinea again, Ruxbin, The Bristol, thus far - maybe Trencherman vs. Goosefoot) but looking for some lesser known/ethnic spots with some caveats - specifically that my mom/aunt/sister will be dining with me and will not delve into hardcore ethnic cuisines (offal completely off the table, not really fond of spicy things.) Ideally the locations will be within city limits or easily accessible by EL. Smak Tak is certainly in their realm and so is Franks and Dawgs, but for Thai they definitely need "mild" and for Mexican I'm interested in seeing authentic and perhaps exotic while they'll fare better with beef tacos and the like.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Woo!

You'd mentioned to me that you were staying and mostly eating in the Lincoln Park / Bucktown area (El Ideas being the very notable exception :-) ) That isn't the most notable area for downscale joints, but there are certainly some gems on the periphery for which you wouldn't need to travel too far.
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Fried Shrimp Po' Boy @ Big & Little's
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Big & Little's is an awesome dive with some seriously good food, mostly seafood-focused, mostly fried but with enough exceptions to make somebody who isn't into fried and/or seafood happy. Don't let Poochie's visage on the website scare you off. As usual, His Extremeness' people have done good research. I had a killer fried shrimp po' boy (above) and another sandwich that was a huge pile of crisply fried chunks of pork belly drizzled with a maple mayonnaise that was both insane and awesome. I've heard their fish and chips is epic, that they do some great grilled seafood tacos, and they do a foie gras fries where they basically just top an order of fries off with slabs of seared foie. It sounds a little clumsy, but people love it. One word of caution... I'm pretty blasé about "bad" neighborhoods -- over the years, most of the places I've been told are "bad" neighborhoods are just places where suburbanites falsely assume low income = crime ridden -- but B&L is kind of nestled into the southeastern edge of Cabrini Green, which isn't quite the warzone it once was (they've been slowly dismantling the projects as the surrounding area has gentrified), but it's still not a neighborhood where I recommend going for a stroll. If you're on foot, approach from the south and depart to the south. Just two blocks to the south you're on Chicago avenue and on the edge of River North, one of the most upscale parts of town. But that's one spot where the 'hood changes on a dime.
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Jibarito de Bistec @ Papa's Cache Sabroso
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At the risk of repeating myself from upthread, if I'm you, though, I hop in a cab and go to Papa's Cache Sabroso and get a Jibarito. It's perfect. It's ethnic, you're not going to get it here, it's downscale and kind of a hole-in-the-wall, but it's an unusually warm and pleasant one, you're eating a unique food in its city of origin, and a Jibarito is small enough to make a satisfying pre-dinner without filling you up. And the thing's freaking delicious. This is one of those things I pine for whenever I think about it. Plus, there's no way even the least adventurous eaters wouldn't love the pollo chon (which is also awesome), so your family will love the food too.

I'm so glad you're interested in Smak-Tak... it's a bit of a trip by public transit, but not too complicated. It's about two miles from the Jefferson Park stop on the blue line, so as long as you're willing to cab the final leg (or bus it), it's not too bad. One other alternative to consider, though I've never been and can't vouch for it -- is Podhalanka. It's on the edge of Bucktown, and it's some serious old school Chicago Polish. Before Smak-Tak came on the scene (and for many, still now), this was LTH's favorite Polish haunt. It's one of those places that's stubbornly resisting gentrification. Again, I haven't been, but I know enough people who love it that I'm comfortable sending you there. One of the LTH threads is here: http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2666

For Mexican, consider Cemitas Puebla, which I mentioned upthread. It's cabbable. And if the cemitas are a little too adventurous for your family, I imagine they'd love the chalupas and tacos arabes. And they do the basics if that's even pushing it too much. The other places I'd send you to are going to be a real trek without a car.

There's Honey 1, which I mentioned above. And lastly, you might want to think about Smoque. I'm in the camp that considers the proliferation of Southern Pride both a blessing and a curse -- eliminating bad BBQ while also eliminating the best BBQ -- but these guys are an exception to the rule. They work magic with a Southern Pride, and they're an easy El ride.

Also, ditch your family and get some Thai :-)

Big & Little's
www.bigandlittleschicago.com
860 N. Orleans Street
Chicago, IL 60610
312-943-0000

Podhalanka
1549 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
773-486-6655

Smoque BBQ
3800 N. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60641
773-545-7427
Dominic Armato
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tatterdemalion
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7 years ago

In the spirit of downscale and a lay-up for the gringo-palate, I think the perfect place is Pleasant House Bakery (in Bridgeport). Heck, this is a worthwhile dining destination for any visitor. A small seasonally-driven selection of classic Brit-grub made with the most impeccable attention to detail down to the delicate precision they employ to prepare their peas. The pies and pasties are all terrific - be sure to order whatever the daily special is, in addition to your favourite classics. Local lake whitefish is employed for an exemplary fish'n'chips. The greens are pulled from plots maintained by the owners and friends in the neighbourhood and a salad is absolutely requisite - beautiful greens, delicately dressed. There is a liquor store/bar nextdoor from which you can purchase some good craft beverages to bring over, or you can do the vice versa and dine in the bar. A friendly neighbourhood restaurant that, if located in Boston (where I live), would get run outta town by the local Irish mob for making every pub's food look so bad.

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Pleasant House Bakery
964 West 31st Street
Chicago, Illinois 60608
http://www.pleasanthousebakery.com
773.523.PIES (7437)
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uhockey
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7 years ago

We'll have a car for 2 of the days - so nothing is "off limits."
sinosoul
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7 years ago

tatterdemalion wrote:In the spirit of downscale and a lay-up for the gringo-palate, I think the perfect place is Pleasant House Bakery (in Bridgeport).
...
Pleasant House Bakery
964 West 31st Street
I resent the fact this was NOT around 10 years ago when I lived off 33rd St. If it were, I may have never suffered a mother-in-law. sunnabish.
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Christina
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6 years ago

Enjoyed reading Dapuma's trip reports and others. Once again planning our Chicago trip, for April or May. We may work it around when we can get Alinea tickets. Weather-wise, how is April for Chicago?
Last edited by Christina 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Christina wrote:Weather-wise, how is April for Chicago?
A real crapshoot. It could be sunny and 70, it could be snowing. Usually it's just chilly and grey.
Dominic Armato
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Independent George
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6 years ago

Christina wrote:Enjoyed reading Dapuma's trip reports and others. Once again planning our Chicago trip, for April or May. We may work it around when we can get Alinea tickets. Weather-wise, how is April for Chicago?
I'd say May is the safer bet, but not by much; as Dom said, chilly and grey is the most likely, but sometimes you get lucky. May is better because it's got a higher floor - it's been unusually warm the last few years, but I distinctly remember having April snows in some years.

I imagine summers would seem excruciatingly humid for you, but if you can do it July, it's totally worth building your trip around the Green City Market Chefs Barbecue (please note: that's the thread for last year's event; info on 2013 is not available yet). My brother visits from NYC every year just for this event - and it gives you a brief glimpse into the dozens of awesome places you might want to hit on future visits. This post has some impressive photos, but read the whole thread to get an idea of what to expect.

This jerkass even came up with some pointers for the uninitiated.
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uhockey
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6 years ago

Christina wrote:Enjoyed reading Dapuma's trip reports and others. Once again planning our Chicago trip, for April or May. We may work it around when we can get Alinea tickets. Weather-wise, how is April for Chicago?
Do look into Elizabeth. It wasn't the "best" meal of my trip, but it was definitely the most interesting.

Heading back in 7 weeks - Grace and Goosefoot top my 'new and interesting' list.
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

The Mrs is going to head to Chi town next month

Has anyone ever been to Sunda or Nellcote?
PHXeater
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6 years ago

Dapuma wrote:The Mrs is going to head to Chi town next month

Has anyone ever been to Sunda or Nellcote?
I went to Sunda a couple times when I lived there. It's a trendy sushi spot basically. I went for "girls" dinners both times and I always enjoyed the food but found nothing special, there's much more exciting to be had in Chicago. Really close to nightlife though so if she's doing a bachelorette or something it would work.

Never heard of Nellcote but googled it and saw it's next to Girl and the Goat. Probably too late to get reservations to there but she certainly should try!
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

Mrs D reported back Nellcote was not that great, and they delayed their reso by about 1-1.5 hours because the big table before them didn't leave, they did take care of them billwise, but the food was not that great, and the cocktails were poor


Girl and Goat would have been the better choice, however it is very nice inside
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azhotdish
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6 years ago

This week was really my first trip to Chicago. I had been in Oakbrook Terrace to visit a contractor of ours, but I had never actually been downtown. I had a meeting out near O'hare, but I decided to stay near Streeterville so I could see the city and eat around a bit.

Upon SkilletDoux's suggestion I threw something up on LTH about coming into town and seeing if anyone wanted to go to dinner at Aroy (ordering power!). While we quickly had eight people, it ultimately ended up being just four of us because of the weather. What a fantastic meal it was, and I picked up three new friends in PIGMON, trixie-pea and jazzfood.

Scofflaw

Before we headed to Aroy (which is BYOB), we stopped at this neighborhood cocktail spot (Logan Square) that's been getting some really good press. All their cocktails are $8, which is about half-price from other spots like Violet Hour. It's a really cool room - old tractors seats as barstools, lots of wood and old fixtures - I wish I had taken a picture. I half expected Travis Nass to walk around the corner and behind the bar - he'd have fit right in.
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menu
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I ended up drinking a Sutter's Mill and a Caledonia - really thoughtful flavors and balance to both drinks, and both unlike drinks I've had in the past.

Aroy Thai

I told Dominic that even though I chose this pretty early on as my dinner pick for Chicago, I was skeptical that I'd like it as much as I did. My experience with Thai food is not very deep - I've had some in Phoenix and LA, and that's about it. And not digging very deep, really, so the food I saw on this thread and this blog post really didn't resemble Thai food I've eaten before. Where is the coconut milk? Where is the curry?

I was completely blown away by this food. The balance between the garlic, chilis, lemongrass, fresh herbs, fish sauce and everything else they put in the dishes was incredibly balanced. Texturally, there were always one or two things ingredients that really made the food pop.
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tod mun pla
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issan, sai ua sausage
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eggplant, shrimp, eggs, onion
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I believe my comment at the table was, "i've had these things before, but never together, and it works perfectly". Tough to choose, but this was probably my favorite of the night.

We also ordered these things (pics from LTH):
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Beef Tender and Beef Ball Tom Yum Soup
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Pork Neck Salad
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Larb Khun
This was near the end of the meal, and probably my second favorite. Brilliant use of offal.

Total bill was $93, an outstanding value at twice the price. The people and the chef T couldn't have been nicer. There were some tables that sat down as we were eating that ordered food - I had seen it before! It looked like Thai food I was familiar with, and apparently comes from the other half of the menu. If our meal was any indication, I'm sure it's fantastic and well-executed, I'm just glad the other side exists.

Dollop Coffee & Tea

I had some technical problems at my hotel which forced me to leave and do work elsewhere. I had found Dollop on Yelp so walked the two blocks to check it out. Really hip space, friendly people, laid back, good music. Actually really good music - I pulled out my headphones twice but never ended up putting them on. Pretty solid cup of coffee too.
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latte art
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XOCO

I felt obligated to come here. I'm a big Rick Bayless fan both from tv and his cookbooks, so I felt that even if it wasn't the best of the Mexican food the city had to offer, I probably wasn't doing too bad settling for this.
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pork tinga
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This was the daily special. I loved that they left the pork alone and kept it chunky so you got the bits of fat throughout. By far the best bread I've had in a torta, and a delicious smoky chipotle salsa.
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churro + chocolate
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Small lunch dessert - why not? Whatever chocolate they're using is excellent - the churro itself was super light inside. I loved this - I should have tried the other two while I was at it.

Gene & Jude's Red Hot Stand

This hot dog cost me $54.90. $50 for the cab from my meeting, down to Gene & Jude's in rush hour traffic, and back to the airport - $4.90 for the double and a drink.
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inside
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Pretty basic setup inside with a steady flow of people.
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there's a double under there
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There's two hot dogs under that pile of slightly-soggy fries, garnished with mustard, onion, sport peppers and relish. I've eaten a lot of hot dogs, with and without ketchup, and this is a damn good one. Who am I to say what makes a good Chicago dog? I grew up eating hot dogs probably 2-3 times a week as a kid while between rounds of golf in the summer, and no one ever turned their nose up at ketchup - I know I didn't. So none of that matters for me, I just know that I really think I spent my money well.

Overall, the story of the trip was this.
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snow
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---
Joel
@azhotdish
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