We have been cooking a lot in the condo, but have also been out a few times that are worth mentioning. The places are very different from each other, but all easily accessible in Chicago.
1. Salpicon is a Mexican restaurant that a friend took us too, located in Old Town. The chef has two things going for her before I even ate a thing: (1) she was at Topolobango and the Frontera Grill (ok, I have never been there, but I am a fan nonetheless, so this meant something to me, even though she really has much more going for her than this) and, (2) as the promoun makes obvious, she is a woman chef. And I like to support them. Here's a bit from their website about her acolades:
"Chef Satkoff’s passion and unique culinary fingerprint has since paid off with countless accolades from theChicago Tribune, USA Today, TV Food Network, Chicago Sun-Times, as well as being named “Chef to Watch” and “Rising Star Chef” by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, and co-hosting the TV Food Network’s show “Melting Pot.” Over the years Chef Satkoff’s star has continued to shine from publishingThe Salpicón Cookbook to being named “One of the Top Chefs of Mexico” by Larousse Gastronomique. Most recently, September 2011 saw the induction of Chef Satkoff into the Chicago Culinary Museum’s‘Chefs Hall of Fame’. In honor of her induction, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed September 29, 2011 as “Chef Priscila Satkoff Day”."
But really, the food that really did it. Every bite was flavorful, and hte blending of tastes was delightful. We began with an adventure dish involving cactus, something I had never previously tried. While it remains hard to describe in terms of texture, the taste was on the edge of lemony and the pork that came with it was cheerfully hot. I then, being who I am, followed with more pork. My partner had a dish that involved a fungus that grows on corn. And, our friend had swordfish that was lighter than air.
Check it out here on urbanspoon:
2. Nana is located in Bridgeport, on Halstead, and I went there for a business lunch. I had a lovely lunch -- despite the somewhat difficult topic of the meeting. I had hte baked chillaquiles (turning down my all time favorite, huevos rancheros) -- and was thrilled with the meal. The corn tortilla casserole (as the menu described it) is layer upon layer of tortillas, drenched in a poblano like cream. The spice was there -- subtle and hot simultaneously. Yes, I would go there again. And, I hear that the Sunday family style meals are both fun and tasty. Check it out here at urbanspoon:
3. Acadia is located in our neighborhood and is walkable. Yes, the South Loop has a high end (michelin rated) restaurant. We have been there twice; once we ate in the restaurant per se and once at the bar. Several things are worth noting: (a) there seems to be a real effort to make south loopers feel welcome (including special evenings for the neighborhood); (b) the food is delightful -- and not as expensive as one would think given its level of amazingness. The first time we ate there, we did the three course prix fixe -- and I was a bit hesitant about the lobster I had -- when I ordered it -- because I am not a lobster hound but wanted the corn that came with it. I was converted. We returned another night to the bar and were not disappointed. And this despite the fact that one reason we did so was we wanted the potato chips that we got with the prior meal and I am not at all sure we got them again. Hmmm. Drinks are good, with a wealth of smarts associated with them. And, they carried a finger lakes gin (Seneca Drum) until their distributor stopped carrying it. Hmmm.
Check it out here at urbanspoon:
All in all, it is amazing to be regularly in a city where there are so many options. I know there are likely cheaper eats than at least two of the above, but once in a while, just once in a while -- really, really worth it.