Chicago Bagel Authority – Shut up and get in my mouth

It's better than Einstein Bros.

955 W. Belmont

Website

Sorry about the slow update, the hungry bastard was in Portland.

 

Comrades, I’m not gonna lie: Einsten Bros. Bagels sucks. Literally every time I’ve gone in there, I’ve had a problem with my order, or the guy in front of me has. Like, literally, I ask for the ham sandwich that they advertised in the window. The lady acts like I’m speaking Aramaic and I want filet mignon. “So, you want just ham… and cheese… on a bagel?” No, I want an atomic bomb between two slices of Wonderbread. OF COURSE I WANT THAT SANDWICH. YOU ADVERTISED IT. IT’S NOT HARD.

Ah. Now that I’ve punched a few tigers at Lincoln Park Zoo and lost a few fingers, I feel much better. Let’s get on to a place right across the street from the place that feels the need to equate themselves with a scientific genius, when in reality they’re better off calling themselves Tycho Brahe Bros., because he was a disgusting weirdo scientist who lost his nose because he could.

Tycho the fake-nosed Brahe / had a very metal nose / and if you ever saw it / you would be dead by now

Let’s focus on Chicago Bagel Authority. They have over eighty varieties of sandwiches. That’s more than Baskin-Robbins and their supposed collection of ice cream. In fact, more than twice as much. My favorite is the Reuben. Unlike Philly’s Best down the street, these guys get the Reuben right. Just the right amount of artery blockage balanced with taste!

And the service is full of hot women. I probably shouldn’t talk about that because this is a food review, and chicks are not food unless your last name is Lecter, but this place is especially nice for its babes. Excellent work, Human Resources. I was looking for a place where cute girls serve you, but it’s not in a forced, incredibly awkward manner like Hooters or something. That place gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Aside from the hotness, the service is friendly as well. So don’t get me wrong, the guys are cool too. I know one of them from high school. But fuck nepotism, because I don’t remember much about him until now.

Their near-centennial variety of sandwiches can be hard to comprehend, so take your time with the menu, they won’t kick your ass. The only negative point I have is that all these sandwiches are cooked via steaming – the result is next to no crunchiness. But they’re still great.

GO THERE.

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What the hell do you mean I was gone? Also Cafecito

I couldn’t have been letting this blog sit idle, comrades! I was here the whole time! I POSTED REVIEWS OF EVERY McDONALD’S IN THE TRI-STATE AREA! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

Picture if you will, a blogger. He has worked tirelessly to review every McDonald's in his area. But he will find that his work isn't as real as he thought it was, just like the processed meat from the McDonald's on the corner of fate and mystery, that you'd only find in the Twilight Zone.

All right, so here’s a new restaurant for ya:

Communism never tasted so good.

26 E. Congress

http://cafecitochicago.com/

My problem with south-of-the-border fare is that some people have the idea that it’s nothing but tacos and burritos and enchiladas and chalupas and tostadas and chimichangas and margaritas and el guapos and puntas and grandes tetas, arriba. In reality, most of those things are American inventions, and chaps in Spanish-speaking countries like to eat the same stupid crap we do. An average Chilean guy would sooner go to a McDonald’s than a Taco Bell if he wants something cheap.

Cuba has especially good original fare. It’s not exactly an all-American tradition to go to the corner and pick up some Cuban food, but dammit, it should be. After all, Cuba has given us some great things:

  • The Elian Gonzalez news story that was so engrossing back in its day.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis, to make an otherwise boring Cold War spicy and exciting.
  • Cuban sandwiches.

A Cuban sandwich is a nifty little thing, comprised of pork and other meats, along with swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Usually not any other ingredients. Then you toast it with a press and serve it flattened like Wile E. Coyote halfway into an episode.

And damn it all, Cafecito gets it right. It’s moist, it’s warm, the bread is crunchy, and compared to Quizno’s turkey Cuban sandwich, I already feel like I want to start a 26 de Julio celebration.

This place looks a bit different than other nifty restaurants in its surroundings. In fact, it’s located inside a hostel. You’d think from first glance that it was the hostel’s cafeteria. You are wronger than wrong in that regard and should be spanked.

I go in there on an average day and the hot ladies at the counter greet me with a smile. I’m all “FEED ME, INSERT CUBANO SANDWICH HERE” and they’re all “okay” and I sure as shit get a higher-than-hell-quality Cubano for about 5 bucks.

The only trouble is, it takes long as hell for me to get my sandwich. That’s because they have to, you know, make the stuff. I appreciate the effort, but my food slot is geting antsy, woman! My teeth won’t gnash on nothing!

Then I get it and everyone does a happy dance.

Would you like to join this happy dance?

THEN GO THERE. NOW. OR I WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE AND MARRY YOUR DAUGHTER.

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

Website

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.

AMAZING STUFF.

Shiroi Hana: Ur doin sooshi rite

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

3242 N. Clark

Website

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

Website

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)