Chicago Restaurants: Try Something Different!

duck+2Here in Chicago, our wonderful, beautiful city, you will find a truly global assortment of people, cultures and (yum!) cuisines. Chicago has, and continues to host millions of people from around the world; Let’s try a few different things this month, shall we? Join me and each restaurant we visit will be an affordable, comfortable place with wonderful food and excellent service; each bringing to our table the delicious offerings of a different cuisine.

Our first stop will be Mia’s Cantina, 143 W. Prospect Avenue, Mount Prospect, (224) 764-2433

http://www.miascantina.com/home/home.html.  The Chicago area has wonderful Mexican restaurants, and Mia’s is one of the best.  The aromas will have you hungry as soon we walk in the door.  Every Mexican restaurant has guacamole, and most are pretty good, but here it’s exceptional.  Pick an entrée; try the Tampiqueña if you like an excellent, chocolaty, mildy spicy mole sauce;  I’ll have the Tilapia ala Veracruzana, the grilled fillet covered in tomatoes, olives, green and red peppers cooked in white wine, served with spinach sofrito and rice, and, of course, a margarita.  There are many specialty margaritas and other drinks, wines and beers to choose from.  Smile and enjoy.

1 IMG_35731 I1 MG_2543Chicago’s Ukrainian Village is a world famous landmark neighborhood, Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen is one of the reasons why.  The restaurant is both authentic and trend setting, often giving traditional specialties a unique American twist.  Dr. Myron Lewyckyj showcases some amazing family recipes, so let’s start with some Potato Pancakes and Palyushku, or Ukrainian style Pierogi (they are handmade in the kitchen every day,)  For the main course, let’s dive into a bowl of their delicious Goulash, or do you feel more like trying Mama Gena’s Pork Burger (served on a pretzel bun, yum…) or Aunt Nyska’s Schnitzel (marinated in her “secret sauce”).  There are just too many delicious offerings for just one visit.  When are we coming back?

It’s located in the very heart of the Ukrainian Village, and anchors a distinctive 4 story condo building on the southwest corner of Chicago and Leavitt.  2201 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, (773) 698-8624. http://tryzubchicago.com

BalkinikaFor an authentic taste of Balkan cooking, we’ll visit Balkinika,1414 E Oakton Street, Des Plaines (224) 567-8267. On the advice of our helpful waitress we tried Boliarski Sach, a dish of marinated chicken and pork, vegetables, light cream and melted mozzarella served on a hot, sizzling plate.  It was an excellent, savory meal, with everything nicely cooked and properly seasoned.  The bread bowl came first, of course, and that was its own special treat.  Very tasty, satisfying, and enjoyable food served in pleasant, welcoming surroundings.

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P1150470At Lucia’s, a small, yet light and airy Italian restaurant at 1825 W. North Avenue, Chicago, they “believe that a restaurant is a way of life.” and do indeed cook and serve food the “with attention and love.”  Lucia’s is a favorite for Italian food; we’re welcomed at the door, everyone is gracious, friendly and knowledgeable, and everything on the menu is delicious in that way of good Italian food.  For an appetizer, let’s try Involtini di Melanzane, eggplant rolled and stuffed with four cheeses in a light marinara sauce. For pasta, I have yet to try (but will soon) the Ravioli di Carciofo, artichoke filled ravioli.  Does that not sound delicious?  May I try some of your Saltimbocca alla Romana, veal scaloppini with prosciutto and sage, served with roasted vegetables?  “Tiramisu for dessert?” You ask. “Si, grazie.” It’s BYOB, so bring along some wine: 773-292-9700, http://luciaschicago.com

RoditysRoditys is one of Greektown’s famous and long standing restaurants. They have been open at 222 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, for over 39 years, which is a dramatic testimony to both the food and the presentation.  Saganaki, the traditional Greek appetizer, is lightly breaded cheese, given a dash of brandy, and set on fire before your eyes.  Remember to “Oopah!” loudly as our waiter presents it to the table. Let’s share a fine Greek salad complete with olives and good, crumbly Feta cheese, Spanakopitakia, (spinach and cheeses wrapped in phyllo) and Dolmades, (grape leaves stuffed with lamb and rice) shall we?  We’ll have a glass of wine, enjoy our company and surroundings, and leave quite satisfied: 312-454-0800 http://www.roditys.com.

5bd18998a1b39296fcb76d62f263cdbbAll Night Long, that’s how much time it takes before these tempting, tasty, choice bits of ribs, brisket, pork and chicken make their way from the slow-cook smokers to your table.  Smoque BBQ, 3800 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, now starting their eleventh year, has become a mainstay of Chicago BBQ joints, with good reason; the owners cook exactly the barbecue they most enjoy, slowly and carefully.  Four barbecue foodies, mostly IT consultants by trade, decided to dump the corporate scene and do what they love.  It shows.  The building is absolutely a “joint”, block walls, gray painted concrete floor, exposed vent shafts hanging from the ceiling.  Don’t be fooled.  They carefully craft their own spice rubs, sauces and recipes to serve you an excellent, well balanced dinner, where everything has that indescribable combination of taste and texture, and no element overpowers another.  You want proof? Smoque has won numerous awards throughout their ten year history, and has been featured on Check Please,” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” always to rave reviews.  You simply MUST give Smoque a try.  (Hint: St. Louis ribs.)  773-545-7427 http://www.smoquebbq.com

Well, dear readers, this has been an exciting adventure, hasn’t it?  There is so much more to do and see, and Spring is here, time for more adventures.  Till next month, then.

Frank Brichetto

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