Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Years (2008) Holiday Dinners

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

If summer is the outdoors grilling season then winter is the down home cooking season. Its right around thanksgiving when everyone starts cooking up old family favorites and classic holiday dishes to celebrate the festivities. The dinner parties seem like they come every night and the food is always good and the drinks are regularly flowing. After all what do they say when celebrating the holiday festivities? "eat, drink and be merry" In my family its tradition for my parents to have a dinner party on x-mas eve and then we go to my moms side of the family on the southside for brunch and dinner is on the northside with my dads side of the family at my aunt and uncles. The menu has always been different but the meals are always the real deal and nothing short of spectacular. I don't know whats on the board for the 2009 holiday menu but I do have the goods from last year.

X-Mas Eve Dinner (2008)

The theme of last years dinner was a Cajun holiday meal complete with a turducken ordered from If you haven't checked that site out I would recommend doing so if your in an area where Cajun grocery goods can be hard to come across or if you just want to order a turducken 'cause you've always been meaning to try one. The turkey, duck, chickens will cost you anywhere between $79 and $125 dollars depending on how fast you want it when shipping is in included. We opted for the turducken with creole pork and cornbread and planned to serve it alongside some popular sides from the region.

Turducken rubbed with Tony Chachere's before it hits the oven

The sides for this feast were decided upon corn maque choux and bread pudding which went very well with the main course. Along with a potato chowder there was also some most excellent gravy made from the bits and sticks to the bottom of the pan that the turducken was roasting on. I've said it before on here so just let me say it again. is an amzing site for New Orleans and Cajun food recipes and tips. Obviously I went on over and checked it out to get a couple good recipes for the dinners sides and was not dissapointed.

Maque Choux Recipe

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Tasso, finely diced
3 Ears of Corn
1/2 cup Onion, finely diced
1/4 cup Celery, finely diced
1/2 cup Green Pepper, finely diced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
1/8 cup Garlic, minced
1 Cup Tomato, diced
1/2 Cup Green Onions, finely sliced
Kosher salt, black pepper and Cayenne to taste

Cut the corn off the cobs using a very sharp knife. The trick is to cut about half way through the kernels, then go back and scrape the cobs with your knife to extract all of the milk into a bowl. Reserve the corn milk.

Melt the butter in a two quart sauce pan, add the Tasso and cook on medium-high heat until slightly brown. Add the corn, onion, celery, bell pepper, Thyme and a healthy pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium. Cook stirring often for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, reserved corn milk and another pinch of salt. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the green onions, salt, black pepper and cayenne to your taste.

Serves 2-3.

Cajun stewed corn with Tasso and tomatoes. Click HERE for link to recipe I used.

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce Recipe

For the Bread Pudding:

1 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups French Bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (be sure it’s a light bread, meaning not too dense)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Butter a square cake pan with the butter.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large Mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the bread cubes being sure to not break them up too much. The trick to this recipe is to make sure all of the bread soaks up the custard, and that you don’t overcook it.

Place the prepared mixture into the cake pan, cover with foil and place the cake pan into a larger pan, sufficient enough to allow for a water bath which will cover the smaller pan by half way.

Place the pans into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 300 degrees for 1 hour more or until the top of the pudding is golden brown.

The finished pudding should be slightly firm, while moist, but not runny.

Serve warm with Whiskey sauce, recipe below.

Makes 4 servings.

Whiskey Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
a few drop of Vanilla extract
1/3 Cup Bourbon
1/3 Cup Sugar

Mix together the water and cornstarch. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. While boiling slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, when the sauce is thickened remove from the heat and add the vanilla, bourbon and sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Click HERE for the link to the site I used for this

Turducken ready to go

Gravy made from the turducken bits

X-Mas Day Dinner (2008)

The theme of the cuisine didn't change a bit when December 25th hit. My uncle decided to do an old favorite of my grandpas last year and it was the first time I would enjoy the famous NOLA dish Chicken Rochambeau. The Louisiana Creole dish is half of a chicken (breast, leg, and thigh), which is boned and not skinned. It’s grilled, then served as a layered dish -first a slice of baked ham, then the brown Rochambeau sauce (chicken stock and brown sugar), then the chicken is covered with a Béarnaise sauce. Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana is famous for this chicken dish. I mentioned above that my uncles xmas dinners are always five star and 2008 was no exception. It was my first time trying this classic dish and I was not underwhelmed by any sense of the imagination. What an amazing combo of flavors the dish boasts.

NOLA cuisine: Chicken Rochambeau

XMas Dinner Plate 2008

Wonderful combination of flavors in this dish

The night ended with a flambeed cake made by my aunt.

Dessert 2008

Who's got that fire?

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bill's Drive In

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi (land)

Bill's Drive In, located in Evanston, is more like a Walk In. Its a spot people have been walking into for lunch for over 50 years now. I think at one time or another it might have been an actual drive-in and the architecture of the building and its menu have all the classic 1950's drive-in characteristics. While I am not positive I think I remember hearing that Bill's which dates back to around 1949 might be Evanston's oldest restaurant. Bill and the building itself have been on a few hot dog related documentaries due to its having been around for quite a while and the history behind it. Odds are if you grew up in Evanston then you've been going to Bill's since you were a kid.

Bill and his Old School Building are a real neighborhood type spot

The menu at Bill's is pretty much what you would expect it to be. They offer hot dogs, burgers, chili, fries and maybe one or two more things and that's it. There is no seating inside and lets just say that most of the time the employees working are also very "old school". During the summer months there are picnic tables outside but most people take their orders to go or eat in there car. For hot dogs they use Leon's skinless which I'm not big on and top them with mustard, relish, pickles onions, tomatoes, sport peppers and lots of celery salt and are served on a S. Rosen's bun. The fries are ehh and I never get them. Bills is a "one item pop it in your mouth shop", meaning there's only one thing I get there-the burgers. So my only decision to be made each visit is whether I want a single, double, triple or quadruple. I think that the double is the perfect amount of meat to bun ratio at Bills and so I usually go double cheese with mustard, onions and pickles. If you ever wondered what McDonalds cheeseburgers tasted like before they went all toxic on that ass, I think Bill's would be a good example.

Burgers at Bill's have been popular with locals for over 50 years

I've pointed out before that I'm a big fan of the 30's style burger that's similar to a McDonald's cheeseburger, but in ingredients not taste. Chicago food expert Mike Gebert, who is also an expert on the 30's style origin, explains them like this "a hamburger then was a very thin patty (10 or more to the pound) with grilled onions, cheese, mustard and pickle, which when placed piping hot into a paper wrapper tended to sort of bake itself into a more unified, bierock-like wholeness as opposed to the kind of hamburger that's a 1/2-lb. slab of beef with lettuce, tomato and 15 other things piled high on a bun." A few years back Mr. Gebert also called Bills "the closest thing to this style he has seen around Chicagoland" and I always agreed that its a pretty good no frills burger joint with very favorable prices.

double cheese prepped the 30's style way

Overall Grade: B-

Strengths: Its a decent above average example of a classic old school burger, the type McDonald's became a brand on. They haven't changed a thing as far as preparation of the burgers and walking inside feels like a tiny time warp and its a fun place to stop for lunch if your in the area. If your an old building aficionado, Bill's has a cool one.

Weakness': Unless your expecting the best burger ever or if you don't like this burger style then its hard to be disappointed in Bill's a s a whole. However they do use frozen patties and in case you haven't heard by now. There is this brand new really good burger shop in Evanston that is serving up fresh ground crispy edged and gridded burgers.

Bill's Drive In
120 Asbury Ave
Evanston, IL 60202

Bill's Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wing's from Rock's

-KingT's Wing Fling

Next up on the Wing Fling is Rocks Lincoln Park tavern. Located at Schubert and Lakewood on a quiet LP corner, it has been the home to a few neighborhood bars over the years. When I was growing up in the 'hood it was the old Schubert Inn which is long gone but I must say that Rocks did a great job revising the place. It still has the feel of an old school corner tavern but with much nicer amenities and decor along with a good beer list and one of Chicago's finest scotch and bourbon menus. During the summertime its one of the best bars in the neighborhood to get food and drinks outdoors. They have a great patio area that's always filled up in the warmer months and along with a nice atmosphere there's some good bar food and nice drink specials to be had.

Rock's Lincoln Park (pic from website)

Rocks is tucked away hidden amongst a bunch of houses so its really a neighborhood type spot. What sets it apart from most of the other bars in Lincoln park is the above average bar food that's reason enough to go even if your not having drinks along with great service. Its owned by a couple of dudes who spent time climbing the ranks in the service industry and now own their own spot. They know how to take care of their customers and keep them coming back and Monday's are a great example of this. Every Monday is wing night as far as the food special goes and the drink special to go with that is $2 drafts. They have a nice selection of microbrews and all the popular favorites on tap. As far as the LP area goes its the best place to eat and drink and watch Monday night football at due to both of these great specials. Rock's does Buffalo and BBQ wings along with a flavor of the day, which is a different homemade sauce each Monday. I have enjoyed the Teriyaki more so than any other and also thought the atomic and "naked" wings-served with just dried Cajun seasoning-were also really good. I usually will opt for whatever the flavor of the day is.

Cajun dry Rubbed Wings from Rocks

The chicken wings are a great example of how Rock's takes the usual bar favorites and tends to make them better than most of the other spots who serve up average food at best. You can expect perfectly sized and expertly fried wings when you visit for wing night on Mondays. As if fifty cent wings and all draft beers being $2, kids also eat free each Monday so bring them along and enjoy a Monday night spent outside your home kitchen. Other specials that are worth a stop at Rocks for are the $5 burger special on Wednesdays and from what the ladies tell me the salads are amazing and alot of them go for $5 special on Thursdays. When I think of a high class neighborhood establishment, Rocks is the best example that comes to mind. Its got a great setup with terrific food and great hospitality. Its not just a great place in the summertime. Warm up there in the winter with one of their fine bourbon selections served in a glass with a rock of ice, hence the name. On Wednesdays they pick 10 scotch/bourbons from the menu and have a $5 whiskey special.

Buffalo Wings from Rocks

Rocks Lincoln Park
1301 W Schubert Ave
Chicago, IL 60614-1219
(773) 472-7738


Rocks Lincoln Park on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Southside Institutions: Leon's BBQ

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

Is Chicago a BBQ town? most out of towners might think so but others from here and also those who aren't might disagree. I view us as a 2nd tier BBQ destination. I also believe there was a time back in the day when it was much more of a presence here in Chicago. However there aren't too many places that aren't considered a part of the BBQ trail that have their very own regional style of 'cue. If you go to any respectable and real BBQ place in Chicago they will have a few things for sure. Rib Tips and links that are smoked in an aquarium style smoker is pure Chicago. While I don't consider Chicago to be an amazing BBQ town it has its fair share of places that have always done it right. One of these famous destinations and well known establishments is Leon's.

View of Leon's from the Skyway last winter...the "L" has since vanished

from outside this fall

Just like any other spot in the food game if you've been around since 1941-which Leon's has-you are going to become legendary. Mississippi native Leon Finney Sr. started to smoke out Chicago in 1941. He started the business with his aunt and to this day it remains in the Finney family. As time passed and the legend grew they expanded and have quite a few locations in the area. Just like anywhere else that has this many outposts, the quality can vary. Also like any BBQ place the consistency can vary. There are a few Leon's including the one Lincoln Park that are franchised owned but I never go to them. If you want the real pork you have to make it to the southside to get the up to par standard that Leon Sr. set the bar with. I have heard that one of the older locations is the 79th street spot in South Chicago. I think its most likely the only location I've been to. It's another spot I've been hitting up since I had my license. Its located off the skyway on 79th just past Stoney.

Menu at Leon's

Now don't get me wrong, I love ribs and they are one of my favorite things to eat but I usually order rib tips from Chicago BBQ joints. Its a part of our cuisine and when done up right I enjoy them greatly. The perfect combination of smoke and fat can make for a heavenly snack. I always order my BBQ with sauce on the side. I don't think smoked meat should be slathered in BBQ sauce. It takes away from the flavor and texture when its swimming in sauce. Its not that I don't like BBQ sauce with my smoked meat I just prefer to dip each bite ever so slightly so I get a taste of pig, smoke and sauce. The rib tips at Leon's can be good not great but usually very good. They have some good smoke flavor but sometimes can be too fatty, chewy and or just not chopped right which is more about the prep then taste.

Rib Tip's from Leon's

It was on a day that Leon's was out of rib tips that I discovered their hot links. Obviously I have a love for encased meat along with a love for spicy and smokey. So hot links are one of my ideal eats and one of my favorite spots for them is at Leon's. I would recommend getting the dinner plate which is always enough for leftovers. However one of their great deals is the hot link sandwich which for under $4 gets you a couple links some of their fresh cut fries and a few pieces of wonder bread all soaked in their BBQ sauce. The sandwich is a meal in itself and has been in the lunch or dinner rotation for many people throughout the years. Leon's does it up consistently and that's what people are comfortable with. Its also one of those places where everything on the menu is popular from the ribs to the wings and everything in between. It's one of those stops that if your going to claim Chicago, well then you better know about the original.

Hot Link Sandwich fresh outta the bag

No shortcuts at Leon's...fresh cut fries

Get linked up on the southside

Leon's Bar-BQ the Original
1640 E 79th St
Chicago, IL 60649-4937
(773) 731-1454

Leon's Bar-B-Q the Original (79th St.) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Carne en su Jugo from Pop's Malt Shoppe

-Smokin' Bowls of Soup
eating like a Mayan king in the Windy City

Over here at S'C&C we get many hits thru search sites. One of the most common terms that is searched for that leads people to S'C&C is "carne en su jugo" usually searched under google images. Go ahead search it and see for yourself. Well I cant tell you much about the history of my next stop on the CESJ tour, thats because there's not much about it on the internet and I couldn't communicate well with the super warm owners due to my lack of Spanish spoken. What I can tell you though is that winter is around the corner. That means that CESJ season is just about here. I thought I would share a place called Pop's Malt Shoppe with my loyal readers. I found it near the end of winter last February and from what I hear its still in business. I cant wait to get back.

On the corner just across from a school on 22nd place in Pilsen

I found Pop's Malt Shoppe while taking a side street to avoid traffic. When I drove by I noticed the sign on the door advertising carne en su jugo. I decided to pull over and try their version right then and there. Now I know I said that very little was known about this place but I'm guessing the family that runs it is from the Jalisco state of Mexico. The soup is not a dish that is common on the menus of the 1,000's of Mexican joints around Chicagoland. Its usually made by restaurants who's family's are from the Jalisco state which is where it is popular. Aside from the soup, Pop's also does steak tacos, sub sandwiches named after Archie characters, pretty random I know, Italian beef, nachos along with ice cream and malt drinks.

The sandwich menu at Pop's...don't not get the CESJ

My meal started off with a complimentary chips and salsa. Now that's pretty sweet considering this is a mom and pop ice cream shop who I'm pretty sure caters to the kids that go to the grade school across the street. The chips were better than good and the salsa was also very flavorful. It was easy to tell that both were made in house.

Pop's fresh fried tortilla chips

About five minutes after the chips and salsa came out, the soup followed. I don't remember it being the best bowl I ever had or liking it more than Los Gallos but I thought it was pretty damn good. I also hear that Los Gallo's isn't as good anymore. The soup at Pop's had a redder broth than any other I've had and it had some really good spice to it. The best part was the extra crispy pieces of bacon. The part I didn't enjoy as much as the rest was the steak which was either boiled or griddled and then tossed in. I prefer the steak to be char-grilled and then chopped up and dumped in. I posted about Pop's over at LTH and the man (Pigmon) who introduced me to CESJ went and tried it for himself. He replied on the thread that "To be perfectly honest, walking into a Mexican ice cream parlor with Archie posters plastered all over its walls and not a soul in sight doesn’t exactly give you much confidence about its future prospects..."

carne en su jugo from Pop's malt shoppe in Pilsen

Pigmon would go on to say that "However, looks can sometimes be deceiving and in this case, it certainly least as far as the CESJ goes. I’m not going to say it was in the upper echelons of carne en su jugo to be had but it was better than most I’ve tried. The broth (mine today was the common beef/ brown-colored variety) was clearly a nice in-house effort with a subtle marrow, beefiness to it and little or no suggestion of powdered bouillon added. It was a bit salty but that’s per usual with most CESJs since they often add loads of bacon. I always forget to ask them to half the amount for this very reason. I also thought the guts of the soup was quite respectable (boiled then superflash-grilled meat, bacon, and an appropriate quantity of pintos) while I never care for when the place takes the liberty of adding the condiments for you (radish, avocado, onion, chile de arbol, etc.)."

He then added "I would definitely return to the Malt Shoppe for a retry but worry about its chances of survival." Get over there this winter if your in the neighborhood and get yourself a bowl of carne en eu jugo and help them out. You'll be warmed up in no time and have done your good deed for the day. I still don't get how people eat at Chipotle and Taco Bell when they live in a city so rich in great Mexican eats.

Hidden underneath the broth and toppings

Pop's Malt Shoppe
2100 W 22nd Pl
Chicago, IL 60608-4051
(312) 823-1245

Monday, November 16, 2009

Conte Di Savoia

-Lunch under $7 so you don't gotta eat at Subway

I've noticed quite a few new Subway's opening up around the city...WTF?!?!? to go with this they still have those corny commercials on the air what seems like all the time. Well lets just say if your going to Subway in this city you need to move to Rockford or something. Your taking up parking spots, contributing to traffic jams and eating garbage all while living in a city rich in food. So today we head off to the Taylor street area to stop in at an old time locals favorite. Its been since 1948 that Conte Di Savoia has been supplying the residents of Little Italy with European groceries, with an emphasis on Italian, as well as soup, sandwiches, picnic baskets and everything else that comes with a family owned grocery store that's been doing it up right for over 60 years.

a Little Italy staple

"For Italian families with a little more cash to spend, the large import stores on the Near West Side provided a supplement or sometimes an alternative to the neighborhood store. Terese DeFalco remembered Fiore's Grocery at Loomis and Taylor but also, "there were the big grocery stores on Halsted and Taylor that we used to go to for our weekly shopping. That would be for the olive oil, the olives and bacalà and dry garlic. They'd sell it in bulk....Whereas your grocery stores didn't." "Taylor and Halsted, well that was the capital. That's where everybody used to go," according to Louis Panico. Bountiful sidewalk displays tempted shoppers. At Conte Si Savoia, on Halsted Street, "Outside would be the wicker baskets with all the snails in them and the codfish, which is the bacalà, the dried codfish. Clams and mussels were was unbelievable and all the olive oils." From the stores website.

Pic from website

Time has changed and with it so has Conte Di Savoia. Not in a bad way but in a way to accommodate its neighbors and customers. It was in 1948 they began doing more than just groceries and started making homemade soups, salads, pasta specials and sandwiches made with fresh sliced deli meats. The goal has remained the same in that they strive to provide the best quality products with great service at an even better price. Its a popular lunchtime stop with students and workers of all types. It makes sense when you try some of their offerings. The original location is at 1428 w. Taylor Street and they have since opened a spot a few blocks down at 2227 w. Taylor. One of their better deals is a Italian sub for $2.99 available after 3p. Its an appetizing sandwich and the price makes it even better not that it wouldn't still be good at it's regular price.

Conte Di Savoia's Italian Sub

The 2227 w. Taylor location will usually have a pasta special or two to go with their soups and salads. I try and get over there every now and then and pick up their lasagna special whenever I'm feeling like a meaty Italian dish. I think its something like $6.95 and it comes with a few pieces of bread and you can add a soup for a little extra. I've never been in there when the place was empty and the service is always great. Whats a damn shame is there's a Subway on Taylor street and some people, I don't know who, eat there. Do yourself a favor next time your in the hood and stop in for a nice light refreshing lunch.

Conte Di Savoia's lasagna with meat sauce

Conte Di Savoia
1438 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607-4623
(312) 666-3471
2 locations

Conte di Savoia on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 13, 2009

Turkey Day Treats

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

I'm saddened to say that I never got around to frying up a turkey pre-Thanksgiving this year. I wanted to do a little experimentation and document the process and recipe on here but I just never had the time to do it. It was about six maybe seven years ago that my dad decided he wanted to deep fry a turkey to go along with the wonderful baked turkey my aunt makes each Thanksgiving. I've been going to Thanksgiving on the southside with my moms side of the fam since I can remember and Danny's (my dad) Fried turkeys have become as much a part of them as Mary Eileen's asparagus roll's (more on them another day) and the rest of the amazing spread we chow down each Thanksgiving holiday.

-Snoopin' around

a peak into my favorite food sites

I'm not a big turkey guy and to go along with that fact, my aunts oven baked birds are so good that I'll never duplicate them so therefore I never make turkey. I just get as much in me as I can every fourth Thursday in November. But then when my dad and I fried up that first bird some seven years ago I wondered why people even bother baking them. If I'm making turkey, which is rare these days but I don't think will be so in the future, I'm taking that bird and dropping it in hot oil. No ifs and's or buts about it. However that was until I caught a peek at the Chili cheese fry guy's baked turkey. Who is the chili cheese fry guy?!?! The dude that runs which if you don't know need to. is one of the best recipe sites on the 'net

This from the site "Frankly if you are looking for 30 minute or $10 meals, you won’t find many here. I don’t cook everyday but when I do, it’s all out and all about bold, spicy, rich food. Not that anyone should eat like this everyday but these recipes are for times when you want to indulge and prepare food that will carpet bomb your and your guests’ taste buds." Put together by a native of Baton Rouge, so you know he knows good food, it might be the best men's cooking site out there. All original recipes and all will have you printing them out and putting them in your to do list if you keep one like me. I never thought I would make a baked turkey as I said above. Until I saw CCF dudes original recipe for his own baked bird.

Bitchin' Firebird

Chili Cheese Fry Guys baked turkey (Pic from

The recipe is what I call a "sure thing" in that you just know its good. I cant wait to try it up. If your looking for something different or are in charge of the bird for your Thanksgiving dinner then check it out right HERE.

-Sampling America's "Micro Fooderies"

If you liked my tip from up above then your going to really like this one. I got an email a few months back from a passionate person in the food world. It was from Ron Broughton and his team at Tribal Moose. They explained how they love S'C&C and wanted to send me a package of their cranberry based sauces. Started in 2005 by Ron who started coming up with ideas and recipes for his sauces back in 1988 while growing up in Seward, Alaska. Not to drift off topic but Alaska State Troopers is one of my fave TV shows right now. A young Ron would always cook with his grandmother and during the 80's he gathered his ideas and perfected his recipe and turned into a full company in 2005 based out of Oregon.

Tribal Moose Cranberry BBQ sauce...a must for your fried turkey

Now if you know me I'm not going to BS, I've gotten other stuff from other companies that you wont see on here because I didn't like it. I've been to places to eat that sucked and so I'm not going to waste my time telling you about them. So when I like something I'm going to let it be known and try to spread the word. I happen to really like Tribal Moose's sauces. As noted above they are cranberry based and aside from both regular BBQ sauce and spicy they also have ketchup and a steak sauce. The first thing I thought when I learned about Tribal Moose was "that would be great for thanksgiving fried turkey" and of course for any leftovers to make sandwiches with the next day. I'm a big fan of the spicy version and my little cousins ate up all the ketchup at a BBQ and loved it. I made sure to save a bottle for my thanksgiving fried turkey and cant wait for the day to arrive.

a must for any fried turkey tailgate or holiday dinner

I would HIGHLY recommend checking out their site and ordering a few for your holiday festivities and backyard BBQ grilling sessions. Click HERE to learn more. Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Empanadas in LP/Lakeview

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the empanadas are.

Its seems as though the Northside neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Lakeview are Chicago's hot spot for tasty empanadas. We already featured the fresh baked Argentinian empanadas from El Mercado food mart in Lakeview last March. Well since then two more spots focusing on the popular Latin American street snack have opened. Its nice to see that even in neighborhoods where everything is commercial, we can still support the Ma and Pa type family owned spots. So lets take a look at two of my favorite places to munch on snacks of any kind.


The more recent to open up of the two shops is Macondo. Its on the 2900 block of Lincoln located near the corner of Lincoln, Southport and Wellington in Lakeview. The people behind this new Colombian coffee and empanada shop are the owners of Las Tablas Colombian steakhouse which is located right down the block. The menu is fairly simple along with fair trade Colombian coffee and different baked goods from the region they offer empanadas. Its a nice place inside to go have a sip of coffee and a quick bite to eat and a good spot to meet up with someone. Its a comfortable feeling when you enter and the service is great.

Newly Opened on Lincoln ave in Lakeview

The Good's (Menu)

Coffee Menu (click pic to enlarge)

Empanada Menu (click pic to enlarge)

Other food offerings (click pic to enlarge)

Colombian bakery treats (click pic to enlarge)

I'm not a coffee drinker but Macondo is the first establishment in Chicago to be serving Jaun Valdez caféREALE brand. Said to be Colombia's most internationally celebrated coffee it is owned by a farmer co-op and funds small coffee making communities throughout Colombia. I stopped by on a early Saturday afternoon and it was quite quiet but they were just celebrating their grand opening. As you can see from the menu the empanadas are cocktail sized and come two to an order. The empanada is one of those foods that has so many different preparations from so many countries and since its dough filled with ingredients and then usually fried or baked, the possibilities are endless. Macondo's empanadas are prepared the Tolimense style which comes from the Tolima province in Colombia. So the empanadas are made with a corn flour shell and deep fried. I went with an order of Tradicional, carne molida and then decided last second I couldn't pass on the pollo. Gotta try them all and I wanted to try the dessert ones and will soon.

The empanadas come labeled in a bag that picks up some grease

Each order comes with a housemade Colombian aji hot sauce

I like the fact that these come two to an order making it easier to try them all should you be with anyone. The aji hot sauce had some good flavor and enhanced the overall taste and could be eaten solo, in my opinion anyways. So how were they? excellent if I may say. They come out freshly fried so they're nice and hot and still were by the time I got home ten minutes later. I thought each of the three flavors were really good and would order them all again. My favorite was for sure the Tradicional with the shredded beef and potato which is always a winning combo.

Tradicional (shredded beef with potato)

Carne Molida (picadillo-seasoned ground beef)

Pollo (marinated chix breast with red & green peppers)

I would say price wise they might seem a little expensive at $2.50 per order considering they are cocktail sized and can be finished in two bites. But considering the quality and goodness of them it can also be looked at as a bargain. They offer them in half dozen and dozen orders at a cheaper price for catering and parties and what not. It is no doubt a welcome addition to the neighborhood and the city in general. If your ever in the area or live by Macondo and are a coffee drinker or enjoy empanadas as much as I do then get over there and check them out. While your at it you can do a compare and contrast with Lito's in Lincoln Park. Another first class empanada place.

Lito's Empanadas

Time sure does fly and Lito's is a fine example of that saying. I thought it opened maybe a year ago but I guess Lito's has been in its small storefront on Clark Just south of Wrightwood since late 2007. I wasn't sure when I first ate at Lito's that it would make it in LP. You know as sad as it is, I thought the empanada might of been to foreign of a food item to the big ten, yuppie crowd. Lito's is also owned by a Colombian and they only do empanadas. Its always a good sign and good clue to good food when a place can focus on one thing making it easier to do it right.

Lito's on Clark in LP is a small store putting out big taste

The Good's (Menu)

Lito's offers only Empanadas and that's all you need

Since its in the neighborhood and is an excellent choice for a quick snack I have been over to Lito's a few times since they opened. The empanadas are a little more than $2 bucks each and although the hot sauce is a quarter extra its a must get. The dough is hand rolled and they use a machine in the back to stuff and then seal each one. I read on LTH that these are wheat based empanadas and as you can see that aside from just size the dough is different than Macondo's ones above. The dough seemed to be a different variety for the Hawaiian flavored ones and I enjoy both types. Each empa' is fried fresh upon ordering and ready to go after about a five minute wait.

Lito's Empanadas

Lito's aji hot sauce is filled with flavor...great stuff

I have tried a few of the flavors at Lito's and have to say that the beef, their trademark, is my favorite. I also think the Hawaiian ones filled with ham, cheese and pineapple are a real treat and will sometimes get one and one of those with the beef. I really want to try the other flavors and soon will get too but for now I cant pass up on the beef. The flavor combo of the ground beef, olives, raisins, potato's, peppers and onions along with the housemade hot sauce is one of the best snacks in the city. Its taking time but Lincoln Park is slowly getting more and more good eating spots to go along with the classics that have survived time and the neighborhoods change. I'm hoping Lito's is around in a long time and I dont see it being taken over by a Jamba Juice anytime. It seems to always have passerby's stopping in for what is an excellent snack in between or make it a full meal by ordering a few.

The beef empanada from Lito's is superb

Chicken (L) Hawaiian (top) Beef (R)

2965 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 698-6847
Website (music plays)

Lito's Empanadas
2566 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 857-0794

Lito's Empanadas on Urbanspoon


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