Adventures in Neighborhood Eating



Well guys, it’s finally happened. I’ve given up my swinging, Clooney-esque bachelorette lifestyle. B. has made an honest woman out of me and we are living  in shacked-up bliss with our psychotic yet eminently adorable dog, Philippa Middleton (aka Pippa, Pips, Pipsqueak, Pipster, and Omgyoustupiddogstopfreakingbitingme!!!  for short).

With this merging of people comes a merging of STUFF, and now B.’s extensive collection of quality cookware and kitchen gadgets are at my disposal! Does this mean I’ve been using them with any regularity? Of course not. My dreams of honing my sloppy and inept kitchen skills have fallen by the wayside in favor of wiping up dog piddle and avoiding our overly-chatty neighbor and her dog, Merlot. No really, that’s her dog’s name. Merlot. Neighbor lady likey her winey.

Our new kitchen is like, five times the size of both of our old kitchens combined, and it really is fantastic for cooking. We’ve been able to knock off a few pretty impressive meals since we got settled, and I’m proud to say that I have been responsible for almost HALF! I have stockpiled a list of recipes I’ve been dying to try and have managed to create exactly two of them. Baby steps.

I’ve also been exploring  new culinary landscape of my new neighborhood. Previously, I reported to you from Old Town, where I frequented such gems as Marge’s, Twin Anchors (Twanchors for those in the know), Cafe Sushi, Old Jerusalem, and Wells on Wells. My move to northwest Lakeview has put me in immediate proximity to at least three different neighborhoods, including Roscoe Village and North Center, each boasting their own collection of local eateries. My hands-down favorite new place is Frasca. You guys, these people freaking LOVE DOGS. Every time we go in with Pippa, the staff freaks the fuck out, gives her treats, threatens to steal her, and just generally loses their shit over this dog. It’s really great having a place in the neighborhood where the dog isn’t banished to the “outside edge” of a patio, like some places we’ve attempted to dine when we’ve had the dog in tow. It makes a world of difference knowing that we’ll be welcomed as patrons rather than viewed as an imposition. Plus, the food is awesome, they have bottomless mimosas during brunch, and their patio is great for people-watching.

If you’re in the mood for something exotic, there’s Cafe Orchid a mere two blocks from my house. Located on the bustling intersection of Ravenswood, Addison, and Lincoln, Cafe Orchid is a BYOB Turkish restaurant with a charming outdoor patio and reasonable prices. I ate there about a month ago with my friend K., and we were both impressed by the food’s authenticity and layered flavors. For those unfamiliar with Turkish food, think Greek/Mediterranean fare with a little bit of Italy thrown in. Lots of lamb-based dishes with yogurt sauces, plus your usual stuffed grape leaves and babaganoush. Just really good, hearty food.

Over on Roscoe just west of Damen, there’s El Tinajon, a fantastic Guatemalan place. There are very slight variations between Guatemalan and Mexican foods and generally if you’re a fan of Mexican food, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Guatemalan as well. This joint has a nice little outdoor patio and pitchers of strong sangria. I really enjoyed a fish dish wrapped in fragrant leaves (I forget the name of it) and their tres leches cake is out of this WORLD. Rumor has it they have a pretty decent brunch menu as well.

 Speaking of Mexican…El Tapatio on Ashland and Roscoe really gets me going. Their fish tacos are tender and flaky and served in MASSIVE portions. The complimentary chips and salsa are fantastic and the salsa packs a wonderfully hot kick. None of this pansy-ass table salsa here, no sir. You will be sweating after your second or third scoop, and that’s the way I likes it. Also a nice little patio here, and it’s great for large groups who want to get bombed off their enormous (and strong) margarita pitchers.

Coming up, I’ll be attending the Green City Market Chef’s BBQ Benefit this Thursday. There are a lot of amazing chefs from a lot of outstanding restaurants participating in this event, so I’m sure I”ll have a lot of things to say and pictures to share.


1 Response to “Adventures in Neighborhood Eating”

  1. 1 your mom July 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Whoa … “make an honest woman of you”……???

    Where did I go wrong?

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