A Whole Mex of Messico. Wait…

Hello comrades, it’s your old pal Dave once again, ready to throw Mexico at you like a little kid who hates Mexico and wanted Finland instead.

I always thought it looked like a deformed elephant in profile. And I mean worse than Dumbo. At least that fucker could fly.

So, where do you get good Mexican food in Chicago? Well, you could try teleportation, but that’s for sissies. A real man pretends that the entire country is contained within one or two neighborhoods!

In no particular order, I give you some great places to go for Mexican.

Mi Tierra. Various locations around Chicago. For the location nearest you, check out their annoying website.

In English, Mi Tierra means My Tierra. You’ll find that there are a great deal of places like Mi Tierra, large sit-down joints that pride themselves on their margaritas and number the menu items. you’ll find that these delightfully pink place serves you very juicy meat, margaritas that will tell you to burn things, and tons of flavor any way you slice it. In fact, of the sit-down Mexican places in Chicago I can say that this place has the most flavor that I’ve experienced. Very enjoyable of an experience, there’s no lie.

Adobo Grill, in Old Town. They mix this guac right at your table. If that doesn't make you happy, someone's got to diagnose you with something unsavory in the head eventually. Here's their website.

I went here for my 21st birthday, to try my first margarita. And who can forget their first margarita? Probably a better person than any of us can. It’s tart, sharp, basically a frozen knife to the tongue that you’ll like. And the food’s downright worth the high price. But the price is just about what’ll drive you crazy. Don’t go here unless it’s a special occasion; and when it is, it’ll be well worth the cash you’re going to projectile vomit.

The Killer Margaritas, in Lakeview. They don't have a website, do they?

Because of the high potency of their drinks, Cesar’s has all manner of signs in their tavern, one of them being “We don’t serve upset people.” Which makes some degree of sense, unless you consider that the only reason someone would want one of their uninvasive liver exenterations Killer Margaritas is that they’d be a seriously upset individual. But let’s face it, a lot of us are seriously upset individuals, and eventually you’re going to encounter such a horrible thing in life that a glass of green sociopathy is going to sound like a fun idea – and don’t get me wrong, it is pretty fun. And don’t worry, they’ll keep you under control – these servers don’t take kindly to drunks. At all.

But one thing too often overlooked at Killer Margaritas is their food, which is pretty similar to Mi Tierra, and very good for not too high of a price. I highly recommend this place, but only during the daytime, and not during Cubs games.

Alright, that’s it for this post, now run along and have fun finding ways for things with limes in them to destroy your internal organs. And that wasn’t passive-aggressiveness for a change.

Duke of Perth: A Happy Holiday in Fishandchipshire

See, Fishanchipshire is a county of England, just north of... all right, where the hell is Fishandchipshire? I believe I was told it "existed," as it were. I want my money back! Where's my prozac?!

2913 N. Clark


Our UK comrades call fries “chips.”Unless they’re the fries in the previous entry at Lucky’s Sandwich Co., in which case a Brit would call them “Oh god, someone get the flamethrower.” But for a good set of genuine English chips and even better beer-battered fish fillet, there is only one place in Chicago where you can go for the best fish & chips: Duke of Perth. Because, y’know, you can go to McDonald’s, get a fillet o’fish meal, pour vinegar on the fries, and take away the bread to make fish & chips, but that’s just regoddamndiculous.

Duke is a nifty Scottish bar that specializes in whisky and their famous fish & chips. I’m not a big whisky fan, but I’ve developed an unrequited love for their fish.

You know how good this fish & chips meal is? Whenever I try to write out fish & chips on this blog form, I keep telling myself “I’ve gotta capitalize it!” and oftentimes I accidentally do. It’s that important of a menu item and it deserves to a proper noun, but only at Duke of Perth.

Fish & Chips.

This particular proper noun is equal parts moist and dry, flaky and smooth, salty and not-quite-so-salty. It’s a delicate balance to make this fried fish, which they not only serve with chips, but peas and tartar sauce. I know peas aren’t too popular, but trust me: once your fish and your chips are gone, you’ll be compelled to eat the peas regardless of how much you hate them, because you’ll have been busy eating and you’ll be in sort of a trance.

The best part: on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Fish & Chips (DAMMIT I DID IT, oh well not uncapitalizing this time, might as well wear it as a badge of shame) are all-you-can-eat. Which can be great if you’re hungry – if you’re not, come on some other day. On the all-you-can-eat days the place will be crowded, and the dish is very filling – so you might have only room for one.

As for the alcohol– like i said, I’m not a huge whisky fan, nor am I a beer fan (oh my God Dave, what are you doing making a food blog if you don’t like beer YAAAARGGHGHGHGHGHGHGGHG I HATE YOU) But I do love hard cider, and this is one of the few bars in Chicago that has it on tap.

As for the service and decor – the service is what you’d expect of a pub (friendly, unless you’re a drunk – nothing too special but it’s better than laziness or rudeness), and the decorations make it feel true. It’s an intricate place with more than a few old paintings and wood surfaces everywhere. You’ll feel so downright Scottish that if any guy mentions “Manchester United” in either a positive or negative regard, you’ll want to bash the bloody piker’s head in, because you’ll either think they’re overrated or you’ll be a closet fan.

Thank you, Duke of Perth. Your place is amazing, and provides the best fish & chips in Chicago.


Lucky’s Sandwich Co.: Great-Tasting Sandwiches with Sociopathic-Tasting Fries

Bread, meat, cheese, cole slaw, tomato, and bite-size suicide.

3472 N. Clark


In France, much restaurant food comes in small, delicate, intricate portions that would double as works of culinary art.

Welcome to Antifrance.

Look, comrades: Lucky’s Sandwich Company is a comfort food place with plenty of beer, chicken wings, and loud Cub fans,  but their main fare comes from the ungodly huge sandwiches. I’m not gonna lie, they’re pretty good for gigantic food. They’re filling (as hell) and the ingredients aren’t noticeably processed. It’s a tradition in Pittsburgh and many other places like it to have giant sandwiches filled with everything – including the side of fries.

So, how good are the fries? Let me put it this way: I would rather have year-old McDonald’s imitation fries than the fries on these sandwiches. While most fries are yellow and brown, these are burnt orange, which would be forgivable if they were sweet potato fries – but they aren’t. They smell like the bathroom at an Al’s Italian Beef, and they slip from your fingers with all the oil if you try to pick them up. I ate a Lucky’s Corned Beef sandwich in my room and had to pick out all the fries and throw them away – and my room still smells awful. It just got cleaned two days ago. This is demonically unforgivable.

This is what the fries do to your tongue.

This is what they do to your metaphorical heart.

And this is what they do to your literal heart.

What’s even more mind-boggling: Lucky’s has a policy of no-mayonnaise-whatsoever on their sandwiches. Perhaps they realized “hey, if the sandwich has these slow-death sticks we call fries AND mayo, all of our customers would get pacemakers at our expense!” I would prefer to eat a sea of miracle whip compared to these life-sucking stomach torpedoes that they don’t even put on the side!

This place isn’t in the “the bad” category because, sans the fries, the sandwiches are damn good. So, if you’re going to order a Lucky’s sandwich, say “no fries please” unless you’re into taste bud masochism.

Shiroi Hana: Ur doin sooshi rite

Shove all that dead sea life in my mouth RIGHT NOW.

3242 N. Clark


Comrades, Japan is a good country. Not only do you get fed there, but you get fed raw fish that actually tastes good. That’s the equivalent of an American taking a rusty truck spring and incorporating it into a cheeseburger and it tastes amazing. It’s just magic because nobody else can do it right, and that’s the magic that is truckburgers sushi.

But America is not Japan, and there are a lot of sushi places. So which one do you trust to deliver the best sushi in Chicago? The answer: go to Clark and Belmont, take a northbound turn on the west side of the street, ignore the screaming bums, if you park your car in the Dunkin’ Donuts lot get your best screaming voice ready for the douchebag who puts the boot on your wheel, and you’ll find a place decorated by wall rocks that calls itself Shiroi Hana. In Japanese, that means “white flower,” but the literal translation means “shut up and feed me you amazing and wonderful nitwit.”

Just kidding, the good people at Shiroi Hana are probably smart enough to question the existence of my head and make it explode in the process, if they’re as good at thinkin’ as they are with sushi.

How do you judge such a unique food? Easy: have some lesser-quality sushi from somewhere else. It’s a total crapshoot in this city, because any old Thai food place can say “oh yeah, we do sushi too,” but do they get shipments of fresh fish from a frozen truck every day like Shiroi Hana? I live behind them on Wilton, I would know; if I wake up early enough I always hear the truck.

"Oh crap. Dave's doin' a sushi review. I guess I'd better just swim into a blender to go out quickly and painlessly. I leave all of my possessions except for my plutonium stash to my girlfriend, all the plutonium can go to Al-Qaeda."

That was probably the most ridiculous caption I’ve ever put on this blog. But it’s near midnight and I’m tired as hell, throw me a bone, comrades.

The only two real drawbacks with Shiroi Hana are the decor (the place looks cheaper than it tastes; the chairs look like they were made in 1977 as part of a study by some Swedish experimental furniture designer on Neo-Dadaism, where the artwork slowly destroys itself as time progresses) and the wonky hours (open for lunch, open for dinner, closed in-between). But these are issues you can swerve around by 1. ordering takeout and 2. not having sushi at 9:00 A.M. like a total douchebag.

The service is nice, but they usually seem a little stressed out. Understandably so – the place is packed at night. One calming thing about the service is that there’s almost always one particular old man, I have no idea what his name is, making the sushi in plain sight – and he does a damn good job. I grow fearful of the words “under” “new” and “management” when used in the same sentence in this restaurant.

This is the best sushi in Chicago. Go there. This is not a choice.

The Three Best Burgers in the Chicago Area

And here it is. The best burgers in Chicago come from here. Article over.

Don’t get me wrong, comrades. McDonald’s, Burger King, and all the other nifty burger joints are nifty, and they provide some pretty close impressionist copies of edibility. But you’ll also find McDonaldses in Kentucky, India, Madagascar, Chile, Death Valley, the bottom of the Marianas Trench, Hoth, Klingon, Isengard, Gallifrey, Tatooine, and Mordor.

So, what about the ones we haven’t heard of yet? Because that’s kind of what this blog is about.

If you're a hop, and you're homeless, this is the place to be.

NUMBA FREE: Hop Häus – Various Chicago locations, just Google it.

It’s a bit on the expensive side, and all too often on the loud side – since it’s mainly a bar that just happens to serve burgers. But they’re good burgers, otherwise they wouldn’t be here on the #3 spot, now would they?! You jerk.

The customization options and sheer amount of how many burgers there are can be a wee tad intimidating, but once you get what you order you likely won’t regret it.

It’s not #2 or #1 because, as I mentioned, it’s expensive and loud – and all too often packed with yuppies, regardless of the location.

Five against one? Good thing I'm Bruce Lee.

NUMBA TOO: Five Guys – Various Chicago locations

Who are these five guys anyway? I’ll bet it was created by four guys, but there are enough quartets out there – the Fantastic Four, the Beatles, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, just to name a few – that they had to go the extra mile and take pride in being different.

The main thing they take pride in, however, isn’t so much their fivefold manpower, but their massive amount of awards and great reviews. From the looks of all the praise lining the walls, you’d be convinced that their best-burger-in-the-goddamn-universe status is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And you know what? It probably is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ll bet they started with a couple of phony quotations and waited for the real praise to roll in. “Gosh oh gee, I’d better not piss people off, they really like this place.”

But the above theory is dependent on how good these burgers actually are. And they’re not bad at all!

I dare say it’s one of the finest-tasting, mealiest hunks of organic meat I’ve tasted in Chicago. It is a bit on the dry side, but that’s better than being greasy as all hell.

One drawback: if you are allergic to peanuts and you’re suicidal, then by all means pay the good people at your local Five Guys a visit. But if you’re allergic and you value your life, I’d recommend keeping a sixteen-mile radius away from this place, as they serve bulk peanuts for free in their shell.

Will you marry me, mysterious DIY scrapbook menu cover girl?

DA NUMBA WUN BURGA IN DA SHEEKAGO ARRY-YUH: Lucky Platter: 514 Main St., Evanston

Expensive sit-down place? Yes.

Kuh-razy metal fish decorations staring at you while you’re trying to eat? Yes.

Damn good burgers? A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Look comrades, Lucky Platter, just off the Main street Purple Line stop north of Howard, is plain-and-simply amazing. They let you put feta and sun-dried tomatoes and other wonderful ingredients on meat that’s been custom-tailored by angry Russian butchers with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder about their craft, who were raised by domineering Soviet cheeseburgers who raised their adopted children with the sole purpose of manufacturing the amazing cheeseburgers that they never turned out to be in their own prefabricated lives to perfection.

There’s not much else to say about these gourmet little things other than the customization options are simple, yet endless. Definitely give Lucky Platter a try.

Hannah’s Bretzel: Shouting “Pretzel Bread” Can and Will Render Any Opposing Argument Invalid

I have a little request - someone, anyone, give me an incurable disease so that I may have an excuse to have this sandwich for free out of pity.

131 S. Dearborn


Comrades, aside from all the German-American imports of Christmas morning proportions, like supermodels and potato pancakes, there are a lot of terrible things that Germany has done to us. The events from about 1914-1945 come to mind, but why stop there? There’s also the catchiness of this song, the mediocre-but-popular volkswagen beetle, lederhosen, neo-nazis on American soil, and Rammstein (okay, a few songs of theirs are good, but you could level a city with those pyrotechnics).

But the decidedly German upscale joint downtown, Hannah’s Bretzel, came to my attention in a special on the morning news. I stopped in to see what this mysterious “über sandwich” that they advertise. Well, let’s think about this for a second: for a sandwich to truly be an übersandwich, it has to transcend the mortal ineptitude of a regular sandwich and realize its full potential as a foodstuff – right, Nietzche?

"Behold, I teach you the oversandwich! The oversandwich is the meaning of the culinary industry. Let your will say: the oversandwich shall be the meaning of the culinary industry! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the restaurants, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly seasonings! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, inedible and poisoned themselves, of whom the restaurant industry is weary: so let them go!" -Thus Spoke Sandwichthustra, Prologue

Wow, okay, that made no sense in retrospect. Anyway – how is the actual sandwich?

Well, first off, the majority of sandwich bread you will find there will be this wunderbar (insert Wonderbread joke here) stuff called pretzel bread. It’s salty, it’s soft, it’s like eating a sandwich with a soft pretzel but not as god-forsakenly fattening. And the sandwiches aren’t the only high point – the tomato bisque I had was mealy, tart, and everything tomato bisque should be.

The ingredients? They’re all natural. Hannah’s Bretzel prides themselves on not being McDonald’s. And it shows in the interior as well – the place looks like a homeless shelter soup kitchen from The Jetsons. This is a good thing, trust me.

You’d think this sort of thing would be expensive, wouldn’t you? Well, you’re kinda-sorta right. The meals are small in size compared to what you pay, and not terribly filling.

But let me tell you, that’s the only real downside. If you haven’t heard of this place,  and you haven’t gone here, you have no excuse. Go before I hit you with a pretzel stick. And it won’t be made out of pretzel bread, either.

So, for this wonderful place I will forgive Germany for the following atrocities:

  1. Lederhosen
  2. Rammstein and its fans
  3. One world war (but ONLY the first one)

Costello’s: Or, How I Met the Guardian Angel of Sick Customers

Scroll down; looking at this logo actively lowers your life expectancy.

4647 N. Lincoln


Comrades, I’ll be honest with you (because let’s face it, if I were going to say “this statement is false,” I’d probably kill all the robots reading my blog. And – oh crap, I just did, didn’t I. Whatever, they were probably spambots). I’m a food critic with Addison’s Disease. Now, let’s not get all teary and Lifetime TV about it – I’m mostly recovered, the height of my problems was in 2006 and I’m doing great. So I’ll cut to the chase: if I throw up, I probably have to go to the ER.

Not a particularly appetizing way to begin a food review, is it? Well…

It all started when I was a little boy and my uncle Mortimer told me that God killed Santa Claus in a bar fight when I went on my bike to Costello’s in Lincoln Square. I live in Lakeview, so it’s a moderate ride away, but it seems longer with the crazy drivers.

I walk in and I have to weave around a mishmash of dancing kids in front of a live children’s singer on the podium near the entrance. It’s situations like this where you realize how much emotional, financial, and legal damage one wrong footstep of a non-skinny 23-year-old guy can create, so it was more than a little tense. Thankfully this was a one-day deal, and sometimes they get cool people from the nearby Old Town School of Folk Music.

I asked an employee if this was a kid’s birthday party or something, out of curiosity. My reply was a hateful “It’s everyone’s day.” Geez, just call me a capitalist pigdog if I am one, ma’am.

The decor relies on white, green, red, and yellow tile. It’s like if a McDonald’s had sex with a hot dog joint in Englewood – that’s the decor.

I ordered a ham sandwich with no tomatoes (I KILL TOMATO FANS I’m not a big fan of tomatoes unless they’re good), a bag of chips, and an orange juice. Should be fine, right? It looks better than the other options anyway (rule of thumb: it’s just a bad idea for your body to order any sandwich called “the mess.”) The dreary lady at the counter takes my $9.10 —

Let’s just stop right there. A GOOD MEAL AT A FAST FOOD PLACE SHOULD NOT COST NINE FUCKING DOLLARS. More than seven, and you’re getting screwed over. I didn’t know Marie Antoinette ran this place; you’d expect her to have a French thing on Michigan Avenue.

Relatively speaking, her severed head is probably 70% more appetizing than what I was served.

And after an unusually long wait where they had to bake my sandwich (not toast, mind you), I was given a steaming heap of a few pieces of something that resembled a ham sandwich if you thought hard enough. It smelled worse than anything I’d been served at Philly’s Best. In fact, that’s one thing I’ll give Philly’s Best: they aren’t this Cthulhu-forsaken place.

After two bites, I felt sick from how greasy and unhealthy it looked, smelled, tasted, felt, and even sounded like as I ate it. I had to throw the whole meal away. And this is where the Addison’s disease comes in: I staggered out the restaurant coughing, trying to find someplace to relax so that I don’t puke.

Then I remembered: oh crap, I have to ride my bike home. And this horrible sandwich shop drained my ten-dollar bill. I only had $1.50 (combined with some spare pocket change) for the CTA! So my only options were to beg the Western Brown Line stop people for 75 cents, or ride home and possibly end up in the ER.

Luckily, I chose the first option and walked my bike over to Western. I know my limits. Of course, soliciting is not welcome on the CTA, so I presented my problem straight to the CTA woman, who shall remain nameless for the sake of her job.

CTA woman: Whatchu need?

Me: Hi, I have a kind of embarrassing question – I got sick and I can’t ride my bike home, and I’m short 75 cents. don’tkickmeoutdon’tkickmeoutdon’tkickmeout

CTA woman: Come with me. Put in what you have.

So I did.

Then bless her rapid-transit heart, she put in 75 cents and told me not be embarrassed and  feel better.

Comrades, I have found the guardian angel of sick customers.

Where angels don't fear to work.