Monday, October 30, 2023

New Food Options in Bucktown

-Grubbing in Chicago  
5 for 1: Bucktown Openings 

I’ve never thought of Bucktown as much of food destination but that may be changing with a quintet of spots that have opened in the neighborhood this year. For the first time ever Bucktown should be considered for the dining neighborhood of the year award. Here are five reasons why it should be.


Allez Cafe (2239 N. Western)

First up we’ll meet the breakfast sandwich making all the rounds on Chicago food social media feeds. Allez Cafe is a coffee shop and pastry stop and sister spot to Ambrosia Foods, a catering company next door. It’s on a busy stretch of Western avenue that’s never really been kind to restaurants but that’s not the case for this place. Lines are the norm on the weekends when people line up for what might be the city’s best breakfast sandwich. It’s a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with smoked gouda, jalapeño ramp mayo, and a crispy hashbrown on a squishy potato roll and it’s a hell of a way to start your day. They also make an awesome Earl Grey cruller and a pretty decent croissant. I’m not a coffee drinker at all but according to an article in Eater Chicago they’re using Backlot coffee. 

Breakfast Sandwich at Allez Cafe

Joba Foods & Bakery (2039 N. Western)

You’ll find our next stop just a couple blocks south on Western. Joba Foods & Bakery is a new retail space from a self taught Nigerian baker who had been using the same space to make her fresh baked agege bread which is sold wholesale to local grocers in the both the city and suburbs. Agege bread is nicknamed “Nigerian Style Brioche” as it’s fluffy, soft, and sweet. The bread is sold by the loaf along with a some other baked treats including delicious African Meat Pies. The meat in these is highly seasoned and the pastry is buttery and flaky making for a fantastic snack. The hours are limited so check google for up to date info but for now they’re open Thursday thru Saturday from 10a-4p. 

African Meat Pies (chicken / beef) at Joba Foods & Bakery 

Eat Fine Design by Khun Kung (2062 N. Damen)

You’re unlikely to know about our next stop unless you’ve walked by and even then it’s tough to identify bc 'Eat Fine Design by Khun Kung' replaced a short lived spot called Gin Sen and they haven’t replaced the sign on the building since moving in. I was surprised to find this place (browsing recent restaurant openings) as they had a ghost kitchen in Humboldt Park back in 2021 that I once tried and it was pretty good. The menu had some items you won’t find at many Thai places when it was a ghost kitchen and it may have even more as a brick and mortar. It’s kind of overwhelming if we’re being honest but pictures always help as does reliable info and I had both and ended up trying a Thai style hot crepe and the Southern Thai style fried chicken. The crepe was an expertly prepared version that could easily feed two to three people as an appetizer so don’t let the prices scare you off. It comes stuffed with ground chicken stir-fried with green onions, onions, bean sprout all wrapped in crispy crepe served with a cucumber salad. I didn’t like the Hat Yai (fried chicken) as much but it was still pretty good particularly the frying job but it lacked a bit in flavor as far as seasoning and such. I suspect that there’s some real winners on the rest of the menu but also some misses. That’s the standard with places like this, some dishes are better than others. But early reviews are positive.

Fried Chicken / Thai Crepe at Eat Fine BKK

L’Patron (2032 N. Damen)

One of the North sides most popular taquerias now has a second location on Damen. L’Patron quietly and suddenly replaced a different Mexican spot that had seemed to be doing well but so I heard there was problems on the inside and the owners of L’Patron were given a chance to expand and they did so rather quickly. I ate here the first week they were open and aside from some logistical issues regarding the delivery of food it was pretty much the same quality that you’ll find at their Logan Square location. The biggest differences I noticed was no fish and shrimp tacos or made to order tortillas (for now) at the new Bucktown location. But the steak is exactly the same in that it’s big chunks of highly seasoned and slightly chewy skirt steak. Their signature gringos and gringas are on the menu but I always thought the ribeye and grilled onion burrito was their best menu item so I tried one from here and it’s pretty much what I remembered it to be. Service was friendly and I love how they do the rice and beans here, when you get them as a side they come served in a boat made from a crisped up tortilla. I suspect they’ll do well on Damen having already made a name for themselves. 

Ribeye / Grilled Onion Burrito at L'Patron 

Manchamanteles Restaurant (2009 N. Western)

Final stop takes us to the corner of Western and Armitage where Lazos Tacos used to be. Lazos was the type of place I had no idea how it stayed open so long as it was a huge spot that was always empty. I live just a short walk away and I think I went once and never went back. When Lazos closed in the beginning of summer it was replaced by a Las Fuentes for about three months until the family that owns Las Fuentes shut the location down and did a makeover on the inside and outside of the building while changing the name to Manchamanteles. They hired renowned Chicago chef Geno Bahena who left his post at Mis Moles to come here. He was one of the original chefs at Rick Bayless’ higher end spot, Topolobampo, before going off on his own and opening a handful of restaurants in Chicago, California and Arkansas and then returning to Chicago to open Mis Moles. Bahena is known as the Mole King of Chicago. His menus have always had a mole option or two wherever it is he’s been. I stopped by for a quick bite one night and met the manager Dan who grew up above Las Fuentes in Lincoln Park (they also have locations in Morton Grove and Alsip). I got a tour of the kitchen and they showed me how the meat and seafood is grilled - over wood - mesquite and oak to be exact. While that was tempting I was in the mood for mole so I got the Dobladas de Pollo Negras which is two thick made to order corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and covered in black mole with cheese and cream plus Mexican rice. I was transported back to Puebla upon first bite so no complaints although if being completely honest mole isn’t my favorite even though I do get the taste for it now and then. This did the trick. I know chicken is most common in mole dishes as it’s a good meat to hold the mole flavor but it’s so boring. If I were in the kitchen I would probably grill the chicken over the wood fire and then dice it into bite size pieces, instead of shredding it. 

Dobladas de Pollo Negras at Manchamanteles Restaurant 

The highlights of my return visit were an artful plate of enchiladas de Potosinas which are a specialty of San Luis Potosí. These enchiladas are different than most in that they’re folded not rolled and commonly filled with potato. The tortillas are dipped into a guajillo salsa before a trip to the frying pan. I liked that dish more than a tamale oaxaqueño with the same black mole which was good but the tamale wasn’t as fresh as you’d like. But I really liked the lamb chops with the 28 ingredient black mole and mashed potatoes. They were a bit thin but full of flavor. We also got the carne asada which hit the spot. It had a nice hint of mesquite as expected. I felt obligated to try the restaurants namesake dish - Mancha Manteles. It’s also a Oaxacan dish that’s a mole stew of sorts. Made with chicken and/or pork plus chorizo, pineapple, apple, banana, chili peppers, almonds, cinnamon, lard and tomatoes though everyone that makes it has their own recipe. Chef Bahena uses two nice sized pieces of wood grilled chicken breast in his version. I got to try some and it was pretty good but again I would have preferred the chicken be cut down into smaller sized pieces but that’s just a personal preference. Overall I think this place might be just what this space needed in that it’s a reasonably priced night out type of spot that should attract a nice mix of people, particularly families and groups of friends from Bucktown, Logan Square and elsewhere. It has a full service bar and while the food isn’t going to win any James Beard Awards for cutting edge cooking, who cares. It’s a very unique menu without any burritos whatsoever and the only tacos are those you can make yourself. It’s worth checking out. Full disclosure: we ended our meal with a complimentary order of the freshly fried churros which did what you expect some warm fried dough ladled in sugar to do - it delighted.

Dinner at Manchamanteles

See ya next time @chibbqking 

1 comment:

สล็อต ทดลอง pg said...

สล็อต ทดลอง pg ทั้งหมด เว็บไซต์ของเราเป็นประสบการณ์ที่น่าตื่นเต้น pg และสนุกสนานที่จะพาคุณสำรวจโลกของเกมสล็อตที่ไม่ธรรมดา ด้วยความหลากหลายที่เต็มไปด้วยความสนุก


Related Posts with Thumbnails