Monday, December 29, 2008

Duk's on Ashland

Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals (and gangsta's) eat.
--The burgers (and sandwiches) of Chi

anyplace that has a working payphone these days is going to attract shade balls

Have you ever driven down Ashland ave at night and come across a very vibrant little hot dog stand that looks likes its straight out of Coney Island or the carnival? Duk's Hot dogs, formerly Donald Duk's, has been around Chicago since 1954 and was was once a booming operation. There was a time when there were a few different locations of Duk's including one on Clark St. in Andersonville that I used to hit up with my friends in grade school as well as four more that were in the work's until Mickey Mouse got involved. I want to say it was around the late' 80's or early 90's when the people at Disney got involved and crushed a dream like big time conglomerates like to do if they aren't getting a piece of the action. Disney sued Donald Duk's saying that the hot dog stand had infringed on one of their beloved trademark's-Donald Duck. The Disney corporation seeked unspecified damages and the original owners of Duk's couldn't afford the fight and removed the name and signs. They had a funny looking Duck somewhat similar to Donald that would be holding hot dogs on that sign to the best of my memory. The owner called it Donald Duk's after himself, Mervyn Dukatte and his cousin, Donald Marselle, as time passed all of the locations faded except for the outlet on Ashland. I guess that old saying that not all bad press is bad for business didn't work in their case.

Click picture for the full story behind Disney and Duk's

Duk's is a 24 hour grease pit that has been in its current location for ages. When you drive by during the day it is obvious that it is a old run down beat up place and when you go by at night it looks like the carnival with all the lights flashing and inside is about as well kept as the outside. I've been going to this Duk's now and then since I got my license and 98% of the trips are after midnight. There was a time when this neighborhood was real bad and nothing more than a gangland. I'm not here to sugarcoat you about hyped up POS burger joints like The Counter.

I bring you real Chicago and this is a place where the gangsta's eat...not the Gangster's but the gangbangers. Any grease pit that's open 24/7 in a less than desirable neighborhood is going to attract its fair share of hoodrat's. Just let me say that the ladies that work there are absolutely wonderful and as nice and happy as can be. Maybe they can tell you the stories of ducking under the counter when stray bullets would fly through the windows on multiple occasions or the time they saw a gang member get slain while leaving with his double cheeseburger and custard. The neighborhood isn't nearly as bad as it was in the 80's and 90's but its still a 24 hour joint on a quiet corner where there isn't many people so be cautious but not scared because I have never had a problem and I'm only there late nite. Now onto the food.

Duk's signature item is their "famous" double bacon cheeseburger

If your eating at Duk's then your most likely inebriated or distorted and its most likely during the wee hours of the morning so order what you feel like but do be aware of the fried tacos and don't say I didn't warn you if you do decide to try one. Its the definition of a Chicago grease pit as far as the menu goes. It features hot dogs, burgers, Italian Beef, Polish, breakfast sandwiches, chili, tamales, breakfast items like pancakes, bacon and sausage and their crinkle cut cheese fries. During summertime their custard is very popular and the most popular menu item may be their 89 cent junior cheeseburgers. There was a time when I enjoyed these McDonald's like 30's style cheeseburgers but now I just go for breakfast sandwiches. One thing they do amazing at Duk's is bacon, on most nights the cooks will fry the bacon extra crispy. How can you beat a bacon, egg and cheese for under $2 at 3am?

Duk's has some tasty breakfast sandwiches at 3a

Even though its pronounced Duk's me and my friends call it Duke's for whatever reason. I thought this post was appropriate because I can remember two or three different occasions on new years eve when I was stranded on Ashland ave. at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold walking endlessly with my friends looking for a taxi and stopping at Duk's for our first meal of the new year to warm up and hopefully find one. Please don't be afraid to go here, the Ukrainian Village neighborhood is an up and coming place to live with great citizens as residents. I don't see people scared to go eat at the tourist trap Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder and it was on the opposite end of where the St. Valentine's day massacre occurred. Its all a part of Chicago's history. Plenty more to come. Even though I think its totally an amateurs night out, happy new years and don't think its a given you'll be getting a cab...I never do.

Overall Grade (burger review): C-

Strengths: It does the job after a long night of boozing and anything with bacon is going to have some flavor.

Weakness: I'm not to fond of the frozen patties that they use to make their cheeseburgers with or frozen patties period. It is by no means Chicago's best burger but like I said gets the job done late night.

Duk's Hot Dogs
636 N. Ashland
Chicago, IL 60622
773 733 0069

Donald Duk's Red Hots on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Ultimate Hangover Cure Pt. 2

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

I gave you the place to go eat if your looking to kill that hangover from last night. But I know that HK isn't accessible to everyone so I am going to give you the ultimate hangover cure you can cook at home. Its pretty damn easy too so anyone can do it. We all know you need a good helping of grease to soak it all up and this recipe is no exception to that rule. One of my favorite sandwiches for breakfast or anytime for that matter is a chorizo, egg and cheese on an English muffin. This will help you feel much, much better. Happy Holidays.

Chorizo-Egg & cheese breakfast sandwich (serve with potato/hash browns)

1 package of Mexican chorizo (two tubes per package)

Note: This is enough for four people but its always good to make your chorizo mixture at once and put the leftovers in the fridge.

1 green/red/yellow pepper chopped and diced (1 total of any variety)
1 Spanish onion chopped and diced (any onion will do though)
1-2 jalapeno chopped and diced
2 cloves of garlic chopped and diced

English muffins
slices of American cheese

1) Sautee the onion/pepper/garlic mixture with your two tubes of chorizo in a pan and break down the chroizo as it cooks. Cook for 15-20 stirring every few and making sure the chorizo is well broken down so its like a ground beef taco mixture. Its done when the chorizo is getting crispy and nicely browned. Let sit when done and place your mixture into a bowl.

chorizo mixture cooking away

2) Toast your English muffin to desired doneness and let it sit when it pops out of the toaster so you can cook your egg.

3) Cook your egg sunny side up on the same pan you used to cook the chorizo and place a slice of cheese on top and build your sandwich accordingly.

Take two of these in the morning and thank me later

Soak it all up

Note: You can also make these with scrambled eggs and some cheese mixed in. I also will usually buy some of those fresh hash browns from the grocery store and make those on the same pan as the chorizo according to the instructions but I always cook them longer so that they are nice and crispy and top them with hot sauce and cheese. Have the ingredients for this in your fridge on January 1st if you want to kill that NYE hangover.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The best gyros you've never had

--Got Beef? (and lamb)
KingT's gyro-tron

Just like it had been a while since I brought you pizza, its been a minute since we stepped into the gyro-tron. My next stop is a little hidden gem a food compadre told me about when the topic of gyros was being discussed. The poster brought up the fact that a little place called cafe Orchid that is tucked into a miniature strip mall with a flower shop and a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. The owners are of Turkish descent so they call it doner but it sure is a tasty version you wouldn't expect to find tucked away in this little restaurant. What a coincidence I said, I have driven by that place for the last 10 years and always said I would stop in and try something and just a little while earlier I did just that but didn't see a gyro spit and settled on falafel. The falafel was excellent so I knew I would be back and was informed by the devoted customer that the gyros is a lunchtime thing.

Some of the better falafel I've had in the city

Over the fall on a random Sunday right before the Bears game I stepped out to grab a bite to eat and when I ended up driving by Orchid I drove on in to finally give that gyros a try. I stepped inside and realized that its much bigger than it looks from the outside. There is a dining room that goes into the back and a small little waiting area for pick up and take out orders. cafe Orchid sports an entire Turkish menu but I was here to try the gyros and was pleasantly surprised when I saw a spit of fresh meat ready to go.

Upon ordering the sandwich the waiter asked if I wanted a traditional pita or a Turkish type of flat bread that makes it more like a burrito but still just as tasty and I chose the flat bread. I watched as the spitmaster made sure that each piece that he cut off was perfectly cooked and he was a pro with the knife slicing it nice and thin. The end product was one of the better gyros in the city and by far the best in the Lakeview neighborhood. Unfortunately the fries were your average run of the mill frozen fries but they were a real treat when drenched with a cup of the tzatziki which was also top notch. the onions and tomato were fresh and the lettuce laced with vinaigrette was a nice touch. The meal was a gut buster for under $7 and is now a regular spot in my rotation.

Orchid Cafe gyro (sauce on side)

Rating Scale 5/5

Gyro meat: 5
tzatziki: 4
fries: 3
freshness of pita and toppings: 4

Score: 16/20

1746 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 327-3808

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pete's Pizza: Since 1955

-The other Chicago-style pizza: Tavern Style

Its been a while since we brought you tavern style pizza over here so today is as good of a day as ever to do so. Off we go to Pete's Pizza #2 on Montrose in the Portage Park neighborhood. The name Pete's has been associated with pizza in Chicago since 1955 when Uncle Pete opened a pizzeria near Western and Waveland. This location has been around for quite a while itself and both locations are locals favorites for thin crust in the area.

Pete's #2 calls my name with its old school sign

I had never been to this location of Pete's but have been to the original many times though it had been quite a while so it was a good time to get reacquainted. The menu has choices of tavern style thin, stuffed and pan. The clear favorite and best offering on the menu is the thin crust and the Chicago topping of choice-Italian sausage on top of it. Both locations of Pete's are still all in the family and its a real family atmosphere at the Portage park location just like the original. The only difference I can remember in the two is the size of each spot. The original is much bigger while #2 is much cozier. As far as I could tell the pizza is also the same and hasn't changed since I first had it as a youth years ago. The pie was brought out piping hot so beware to not take that first bite right away.

The pie is delivered piping hot and you can smell when its getting close

a slice of tavern style thin with sausage from Pete's

This was a very respectable thin crust. I thought the sauce was a little lacking and it was maybe mixed with ricotta and broth or something else because each bite was pretty damn juicy and there was a little more cheese than I would have liked but a good pie none the less. The crust and dough was not nearly as crispy as I prefer, it was a little more of the chewy variety so that cost it some points in my book but its still a place I know I'll be back too. Pete's pizza has been doing it the same way for over 50 years and you cant hate on that. Its all in the family and they do a great job of putting out a tasty consistent product.

Nice well cooked pie

Rating Scale 5/5

Crust: 3
Sauce: 3
Toppings: 4
Crispness: 2

Score: 12/20

Pete's Pizza #2
5847 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 282-5434

Previous thin-crust scores: Zaffiro's, Pat's, La Gondola

Pete's #2 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Creepy Crawlers

-Snoopin' around
~a peak into my favorite food sites

Click the link below for a look into the wide world of insects...and eating them.

Got Bugs?

Tuens is the chibbqking of world class food travel. Check this site out to see what and where the locals eat on a world wide level. Click the link above or click here for the homepage.

Shrimp Fra Diavalo

-Recipe's From Saveur

The food and cooking world has expanded so rapidly that there are now 100's and 100's of print publications based on food and drinks. Way back in the day there was Bon Appetit and Gourmet food publications and that was about it. I've made a few recipes from both over the years and always had mixed results, some recipes were great and some were just plain bad. In most cases it was all about the picture of the particular food that made it look so good and we all know that the food they take pictures of isn't even edible. The food pictured on the front cover gets more airbrushing and makeup than a Playboy playmate so it can be deceiving at times. One day when I was at a Barnes & Noble a publication called Saveur caught my eye, big bold lettering reading "Chicago!" will do that to me. So I bought the issue to read more. Boy I am I glad that I spotted that mag that day. I knew it was for real when they weren't reporting on the same old shit you see in other Chicago food stories about places that aren't even close to the best in the city ranking they're given. There's so much more to Chicago food than Pizzeria Uno and Portillo's. This is the best food magazine on the shelves and second place isn't even close.

Saveur did not pay me to write this

If you need a last second not too expensive gift for the holiday season and know someone who likes food then this is a great gift as a subscription. What I love about it is how real it reads and looks. They do a tremendous job of bringing the reader the different food specialties from around the world with articles and recipes of food available around the globe. If you like food along with food travel and just something fun to read and cook from, then Saveur is your friend. It has the most authentic foodie like feel. They have articles on food from Boston Bay to Singapore with every stop in between. I really believe that the writers and brains behind it are in it for the love of food and not just a paycheck. I'm going to share some of my favorite recipes from the publication and how they turned out. I would say that there are over 200 recipes I want to try in their online database check it out.

When I saw a recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo in the database I knew I was going to try it. When translated Fra Diavalo is brother devil, a name given in Italian-American cooking to shellfish, particularly shrimp and lobster, cloaked in spicy tomato sauce typically served over pasta. It had been years since I had the famous Italian-American dish over at Aquaviva in Providence, Rhode Island, one of the landmark restaurants in the city's federal neighborhood-the heart of a vibrant Italian-American community founded in the 1900's. I cant say I was surprised when I read that their recipe was from that very same restaurant. These people knows whats up. I tried it out and it came out amazing. I knew it would, their always spot on.

Brotherhood on Showtime based outta Providence might be the best show on TV

It made me want to take a trip East and visit what I think to be the most underrated city on the East coast, Providence, and then take a ride into CT to say what to my boys from the Peqout nation over at Foxwood's and then to New York to visit all my friends out there. But then what about the fried clam shacks, diners, steamed cheeseburgers and lobster rolls of New England? don't expect me to say anything about the hot dogs...I'm from Chicago. The east coast however is a good eating paradise.

Quick Note: The Chicagoland area and state of IL is responsible for just over 52% of the traffic on this site. New York City is second with 16% of the hits and Toronto Canada is third with 7% and the 24% come from around the world.

62% of the visitors are from the USA and 20% are from Canada.

Thanks for the love NYC & Canada.

Saveur's Recipe For Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I am by no means an amateur with my knife in the kitchen but I wouldn't post a recipe that everyone cant make without telling you first. This is a simple hassle free recipe that can be made by anyone who can boil pasta and slice cherry tomatoes in half. I guess that's the beauty of Italian cooking, its so simple but so good.

Saveur: Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four Seasons in Michigan

Eating like a local: Regional food specialties
-The Hub of the U.P (Marquette, MI)

Over the summer I took a trip around Lake Michigan that took us through four states and along side three great lakes. We took a detour up to Lake Superior to stop in Marquette Michigan located at the bottom of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. It was the best stop on the circle tour. It was a real scenic little city that had good eating and a fairly wild nightlife during the summer. It seemed everyone I talked to that lived in the area loved it and wasn't planning on leaving anytime soon...I could see why.

The beach early morning.

Now I know why they call it Lake Superior. I was really impressed with the great great lake. The water was cold and I saw lots of ships transporting whatever they do and it just seemed so much more great than lake Michigan.

Now before you start asking yourself "why is this being posted now, its 10 degrees in the UP right now" well this true but Marquette is also the home to Northern Michigan University and the UP is home to some so called mountains for skiing and snowboarding, good in this part of the country anyway and its fun for kids and adults who like to have a good time. For adults there is snowmobiling and hunting and a few casinos for the party people along with the outdoor jacuzzi's and fireplace's at all the ski cabins around the area. Its also the home to Christmas MI and home of the worlds largest Christmas store. So as you can see this post has some relevance goddamnit.

For the kids amusement...the kids!

had a really nice eating scene and the beaches were packed by day and the bars were packed into the night. I really like the ladies up there, great time in a great town. The first place we got to check out for food was one of my favorite stop's on the trip. The coney joint was within a stones throw from our hotel the Ramada Inn's entrance and they served coney dog's and sliders along with shakes and some really good thin cut fries. I ended up eating here a total of four times during our time spent...really good roadfood type place, which is what I'm all about. Don't ask me why but Coney dogs are chili dogs from the Detroit area and the state of Michigan while Michigan dogs are hot dogs with chili like "sauce" from upstate New York.

The Coney Joint "eat now jog later"

Coney Dog and Slider from The Coney Joint (Marquette, MI)

DatNizPiz felt the need to get two Chicago style dogs...

Im a sucker for sliders...these were good ($1 after 7p everyday)

Marquette is a nice little town on the lake with a very high average of good food to population total. Like alot of of the little Midwestern cities there's alot of different independent local favorite dining type options for a city of 20,000. Two of the better spots for sit down dinner and drinks are Vierling's and Lagniappe.

Vierling's has some fresh, fresh whitefish

You wouldn't expect to find great Cajun/Creole cookin' in the UP

As expected the super fresh whitefish at Vierling's is superb. They get it fresh from Thill's daily, the local monger is located just down the block on the lake. We each had it a different way, grilled, blackened and baked, all were exceptional. Sorry but no pictures of the food for the first time ever.

Tucked underneath the towns main drag

I love Cajun and in Chicago there really isn't anything good so I always jump on the chance when I see a spot on the road. We ate at the bar where the bartender was very friendly in giving us advice and tips on what to do around the area and where to go at night, this was my favorite restaurant of the trip. Everything was really good including the live music and atmosphere each time we were there.

category 5 hurricane

The bartender who's name escapes me poured some damn good Hurricane's. Unlike the Pat O'Brian's version these were a different recipe that were made by pouring dark rum into the bottom of the glass, fresh squeezed mix of juices in the middle and light rum on top. The reason I cant remember the name of the dude bartending was b/c I had three category five hurricanes before we ate. Hurricanes were served category 3, 4 or 5. Higher the number the more liquor.

fried Boudin balls

bowl of real gumbo with the basket at the bar's selection of hot sauces.

hot sauce bar for your food

We also got introduced to the owner who was a nice super nice lady who wanted to know all about our trip and how we liked the UP and her place. It turns out she has a daughter who graduated from cordon bleu in Chicago and is now working at a restaurant down in New Orleans and will one day move back home with some new recipe's and knowledge of the cuisine and take over the family spot.

Lagniappe was a very satisfying spot and all the food was darn good each time. Lagniappe closes around 9p so our first night there, a local Cub's fan directed us to "The dog house" a bar directly across the street and where they carry the MLB season ticket and show all the Cubs games. After the game we stumbled over to the up-front which was the spot on Wednesday's. Very fun although I don't remember much. The days were spent on the beach and the nights on the town. Its a different place in the winter but still as satisfying if you like the outdoors during winter. Its scenic no matter what season your there and I assume they do a good tourism biz year round.

ham, potato and cheese breakfast pastie from Michigan's U.P

Don't forget to eat a few pasties if you make it to the area!

The Coney Joint
500 W Washington St
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 225-5570

145 Jackson Cut Alley,
Marquette, MI 49855
Closed on Weekends for private parties

Vierling Restaurant
119 S Front St
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 228-3533

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Hidden Soups of Katy's

Smokin' Bowls of Soup
-Katy's Beef Noodle Soup

Its getting frigid so I'm gonna help you fire up some cold winter nights. During the months of December, January and February you can expect some reports about the best bowls of soup around town, you know the dank stuff. When winter hits in Chicago so does the need for food to be hot temperature wise because you cant always stay warm and numb from the booze and cigars. You can expect the real deal spots around town and nothing on Chili Mac's or any of those wannabe overpriced soups from places like Whole Foods. This is real Chicago.

For the the first bowl pack I take you to Katy's Noodles & Dumplings in Westmont, IL the most amazing unassuming little Asian noodle shop in the state. Katy's makes hand rolled noodles and dumplings that just cant be matched anywhere in the city. Unless you get tipped off on the place its virtually impossible to even know it exists and if and when you see it nothing about it would catch your eye. If you live within city limits like I do then just trust me when I say its worth the drive. The menu at Katy's has some of the typical American-Chinese items like fried rice and such and that is really good and better than most but the soups and dumplings are the star of the show. The fresh dumplings are rolled with hands and there are homemade frozen dumplings from a machine avail. to go along with other pre-packaged lunches.

Homemade Pork Dumplings

Pot Stickers

Stir Fried homemade noodles are a good option if you don't do soup or in the summertime

Beef noodle soup with homemade chewy noodles is over the top good

My first bowl pack was the beef noodle soup. The broth was rich and full of flavor with hints of star anise and a fresh taste of cilantro while the beef tasted like it had been simmered for hours on end and was as tender as could be. The bowls of soup are substantial in size and could feed two but you wont want to share. The price could be double and a half what they charge if they had booze and it was in a hip ass trendy looking spot with waiter service or even the new trend-communal seating. Katy's sits in a very vibrant little strip mall just North of Ogden on Cass that includes a few Indian restaurants and a few Indian stores, a Thai restaurant and a head shop where you can purchase hookahs, pipes, bong's and the tobacco people use to fill those with. You can expect quite a few of these bowls to be packed by Katy. So much more to come.

Katy's Dumpling House
665 N. Cass Ave.
Westmont, IL 60559
(630) 323-9393

Hours: 11am – 9pm
Closed Wednesdays
Cash only

Click Here for some in-depth coverage

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The World's Greatest Hot Dog!

-The other Chicago-style Hot Dog: Depression Dog's

Did you think this was going be an article on Superdawg or Hot Doug's after reading the headline? Your dead wrong. Why is that whenever there's some sort of compiled list of the best hot dogs in America they always show one of those two places for Chicago's representation? nothing against superdawg or Doug and I love both of those spots and they will be featured here one day because every dog has its day, but Gene & Jude's is a legend in its own time and it's time is all the time. This is the best hot dog in America. Got it? Good. Located just 15 minutes or less from O'Hare in the suburb of River Grove it is a must stop for any tourist who wants to try the best hot dog on the globe and its been that way since 1946. I'm not sure when but they used to sit at the corner of Polk and Western in Chicago back in the day and at some point moved to the current location. Its right next door to one of those McDonald's connected to a gas station and idiots still go to CrApdonald's. Now that's a damn shame, I pity those fools.

The old hot dog stand from Polk & Western

G&J serves hot dogs, tamales, pop and punch...thats it.

If your a steady follower of the site then you should remember the post about Jimmy's which is my favorite hot dog stand within city limits. Check out the article for a full description of a Chicago depression dog. I love Chicago Style hot dogs but the reason we are the dog capitol of the world is because of our different types of dogs. Gene & Jude's is how hot dogs should be, the perfect example of a hot dog with its snappy encased meat on a steamy regular cheap bun topped with just mustard, chopped onions, relish and sport peppers and of course topped with fresh cut fries that are just divine. They are served in an assembly line so service is fast which means you need not worry about that line of people 30-40 deep waiting for a taste of heaven, a waiting line is a sure thing at Gene & Jude's.

The smooth running dog line at G&J

Folks of of my following, there is not a better meal on earth for under three dollars. The hot dogs are something like $2.25 and that includes a shitload of their fantastic fries. Demon Dog's in Lincoln Park is long gone (RIP) but thank god we still got Gene & Jude's. You gotta go with two hot dogs when ordering even if your not going to eat all the fries these dogs will leave you wanting more so order two so you don't have to wait in line again. I always get my usual which is a dog with everything and no relish and a hot dog plain. No I don't have the tastebuds of a six year old as far as that plain dog goes. I eat it with fries as the topping. Its just something I've done since my dad used to pay us off in Demon Dog's for yard work back in the day.

G&J plain hot dog with fries on top...mmmm.

I would estimate that on a busy day G&J's goes thru 2,500 hot dogs and its easy to taste why. The ambiance is the hot dog and fries, theres not much on the walls except for maybe a few plaques and articles about the worlds greatest dog.

The perfect hot dog

G&J fries go from being cut fresh and into the fryer in under 60 seconds

Gene & Jude's
2720 River Rd
River Grove, IL 60171
(708) 452-7634

Gene & Jude's Red Hot Stand on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 12, 2008

Let's go to TBP...

Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City
-Drunken eats at the World Famous TBP

Does the topic title of this post ring a bell? If you have lived/live and drank/drink in Lincoln Park then you know what I'm talking about. Its the world famous Taco Burrito Palace #2. This place has seen more drunken fools then the holding cells at an English premiere soccer stadium. Every city has different cuisines on which people indulge after a long night of binge drinking. I know that in Montreal its all about the Deli's with some smoked meat poutine, on the east coast there's diners and in college towns there's usually some garbage pizza place that delivers late-nite. Over here in Chicago there are a few options but Mexican food is the king of late-nite eats. There are thousands and thousands of taquerias that stay open into the wee hours of the night.

The sign has been the same since the day they opened

I've been eating at TBP for over 15 years. So if you've been eating there as long as I have then you would remember the old Session's skateboard shop across the street at Altgeld and Halsted where The Smoke Shack (eh) sits. I'm not going to sit here and BS you about how this is the best Mexican food in the city or world yada, yada. Although TBP does a good business all day long from the neighbors and hospital it is a different place at nighttime. This is drunk Mexican food at its finest. Now don't get me wrong, the food is totally acceptable during the day and I have eaten here plenty of times when not inebriated. But everyone knows that the show and the cooks are better at night. Its not the best choice if you like your steak tacos like I do but this is good late night eating in LP. So here is another place checked off the board as far as that silly statement that there's "no where to eat in Lincoln Park" goes.

The Old TBP (Photo: Planet99)

TBP isnt quite the same as it used to be, its rather tame now. Back in the late 90's and early '00's me and my boys used to be pretty well known in the area and TBP and Jonquil park were places we could be found after 2am on any given night. It used to sit a block south right down the street and it was literally a warzone at times. Unlike the Wiener's Circle where its a somewhat friendly albeit disturbing exchange of insults between customer and employee, TBP was a prime spot to see a fight on a Saturday night after 2am. If you wanted to see drunken girls tops and even bottoms come off while eating some tacos? TBP. Did you want comedy better than that being dished out at Second City? TBP. When people ask me what restaurant I have eaten at more than anyplace else I say without hesitation TBP. If you got in a scuffle at TBP back when it was down the block and you don't know was probably me and my friends on the other end. Sorry about your face. Then of course there was that night I dodged the shot of my life when we somehow managed to get in an exchange with three Israeli soldiers or body builders. Do any of you fools reading this remember the mini white sox bat that went crack? those dudes were rock solid and I don't know how we got out virtually unscathed. If anybody that frequented the old spot remembers the booth that had one of the corners missing, it broke that night. Its ok though because we always took care of the crew that runs TBP and they know us really well. We took many smoke breaks with them out back and they basically watched us grow up. Everyone has a TBP story to tell. Now on to the food.

What the flattop looks like at TBP when your there after 2a

The old taco burrito palace has a Americanized Mexican menu but everything is good and a few things are better than good. I've gone thru different phases of what I order over the years and right now I order the chicken enchiladas suizas every time I'm in there. I haven't found anything better at a real restaurant, there are great enchiladas from a lady at Maxwell St market most Sundays but other than those, TBP's are the best I have had. One thing that has remained a constant in my diet are the homemade tamales. Way back in the day when I was maybe 10 or 11 my dad made me try a tamal from there and I didn't want to but did with hesitation. It was so good I decided Ill never not try anything at least once again. I remember when the owners wife used to sit in the back and make them herself. How times have changed, I doubt she makes them in back anymore, she has her own brand new X5 and the family has a sitdown spot with drinks just down the street called "the Mayan palace". I can assure you however that the tamales are being made the same way. The masa has a different almost wetter texture than most other tamales I have had. The quality can vary though because they don't make them daily so it depends how fresh they are as to how good it will be.

TBP tamales

Other menu items that are great choices include the steak nachos, red Rooster style, which is with melted chihuahua cheese instead of the bright orange processed stuff. But here is a little secret Tuens let me in on, its not chihuahua cheese, its muenster. They are very similar in taste and melting capability in case you ever need chihuahua but cant find it. The chips and homemade red salsa are also must gets. Then there is the cheese fries...very, very popular with the ladies. They are fresh cut potato, fried upon ordering and oozing with the orange yellow stuff that kids love. Just another sign that TBP cares about their product even though 70% of the people they serve will yack it back up and not remember a thing the next day, they still make the fries and most everything else on site. The cheese fries are some of the best in the city. Chicken tacos are good if you like the Americanized version loaded with everything as are the big boy quesadillas. Last but not least is their rice. No ones driving out of the way to get rice but if your there, its the best yellow rice I have ever had. Want to try something really good? do up some KingTBP cheese fries and cover your cheese fries with rice.

TBP cheese fries with rice on top

Some of the best around

steak queasadilla

chicken taco

Chicken Enchilada Suizas dinner

While the days of a spring break atmosphere are long gone as is the old location of TBP, the food, the sign and the good people working there remain the same. But the vibe just isn't the same and that's for better or worse. There is now almost never a line out the door because the new space is much bigger, they have a flatscreen TV for Christsake. There are now both male and female restrooms as opposed to the unisex bathroom you had to walk thru the back kitchen to get too. It was like walking thru Deadwood's meat market with all the cut up meats and animals laying around in a very tightly squeezed kitchen with a bunch of men hawking machetes in a frenzied atmosphere. Those were the days.

Quick Note: I know that TBP isn't exactly Chicago's greatest representation of Mexican food but if not for this place, I wouldn't love Mexican food and know as much about it as I do. If I didn't have TBP, you wouldn't have this site. So show it love.

Taco and Burrito Palace #2 on Urbanspoon

Taco Burrito Palace
2459 N Halsted St # 1
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248-0740


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