Category Archives: Ethnic

BEST Cinco de Mayo in Chicago

Cinco de Mayo is a cultural phenomenon in the United States. It’s a time to celebrate Mexican culture and, for some, an opportunity to drink a lot of margaritas and cerveza.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day.Mexican independence is celebrated Sept.16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates theMexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. In the U.S. the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades.

The 2 BEST places to celebrate are in Lakeview!

Revolucion Steak House & El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Restaurant!

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY! 2 days, 2 ways to celebrate! Brunch and Dinner!


New Years Eve in Chicago

New Years Eve –  and  New Years  Day!   Make  Plans  now!

Don’t be left out in the cold!

Revolucion   and  El Mariachi




Cinco de Mayo Chicago Style


In 1996, a father and his two sons opened a very small 10-table Mexican restaurant in the Boystown/East Lakeview community located at 3420 N. Broadway. Thankfully for us all, El Mariachi grew increasingly in popularity with the locals by following a strict policy of only serving top-quality, authentic Mexican dishes and stellar margaritas.

The original 10 table restaurant is still thriving today, but several years ago they opened a ginormous, second restaurant at 3906 N. Broadway, just 2 blocks past the northern Boystown border. The newest location, El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill, has the space to offer a full-bar area complete with stools and cocktail tables and two spacious, multi-level, separate dining rooms.

The décor and ambiance is very tastefully done. Traditional Mexican paintings, fountains, faux painted, near 2-story walls and even a hand painted, vaulted ceiling complete with an image over the front door of the restaurants Founder and Patriarch! In warm weather, they have an intimate, outdoor, courtyard patio where you can dine al fresco and pretend you’re vacationing just about anywhere!

The family went on to open Revolución (3443 N. Broadway), a new Mexican steakhouse and to my knowledge this is Chicago’s FIRST Mexican Steakhouse.

Revolucion Mexican Steakhouse is a rustic hideaway of juicy Steaks, Chops, Seafood with a Mexican flare. And price ranges for everyone.whether you want a lite snack, or maybe a burger, brunch or a full 2-3 course meal. It’s all here.



3 exciting choices For


El Mariachi Tequila Bar 5 de Mayo
3906 N. Broadway | Chicago, IL 60613 | 773.549.2932 |

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Weekend at El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill
Make a weekend of it, and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your Amigos at El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill!

Friday 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. the Cointreau Girls will be giving away complimentary drink samples to kick off the fiesta! Keep the celebration going with a $21 Bottomless Mimosa Brunch to be enjoyed out in the private patio on Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 2pm, and get really festive with our $18 Rio Grande Margarita (60oz Margarita) on Sunday!


3443 N. Broadway | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.661.9183 |

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Weekend at Revolucion Steakhouse!
Friday, May 2- Monday, May 5, 2014 Open late!

Make a weekend of it, and celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Revloucion!

Friday and Saturday 6:30-8:30pm, the Milagro Tequila Girls will be giving away complimentary drink samples to kick off the fiesta! Keep the celebration going with brunch on the patio on Saturday & Sunday ($3 mimosas & bloody marys), and enjoy a $3 Pacifico on Monday- the real Cinco de Mayo! Take a few photo bombs with friends in sombreros & mustaches & join the Facebook Photo Contest in order to vaguely remember your Cinco Weekend.
Make sure to grab a friend and join a photo Facebook contest with sombreros & mustaches to commemorate (and remember) your Cinco de Mayo weekend!


Tutto Fresco Trattoria 5 de Mayo
3829 N. Broadway | Chicago, IL 60613 | 773.281.1844 |

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Tutto Fresco Trattoria!

Monday: $30.00 Prix Fixe Menu

First Course: Ground Beef Sopes
Second Course: Carne en Su Jugo
Third Course: Choice of Camarones Rancheros or Pollo en Salsa Verde
Fourth Course: Coffee 3 Leches Cake
*Includes a Margarita de la Casa!

TRY ALL THREE Restaurants!


Chef Tong Demonstrates Spanish Tapas at Bloomingdales Home Store October 18th

from his trip to Barcelona, Spain, Chef Christopher Tong of the upscale
Chicago-based private gourmet dining service, My Private Chef, will
demonstrate how to cook and serve Spanish Tapas. 


Tong has been a favorite at Bloomingdales for several years because
lovers of gourmet food get to ask questions, discuss preparation and
come away with recipes that spice up their meals. And, everyone gets to
have a taste!


The demonstration will take place on Saturday, October 19, from 2-4 p.m. at the Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Store at Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago.

For more information about this Bloomingdale’s event, contact 312.324.7678.

My Private Chef is
enjoying popularity as one of Chicago’s favorite private gourmet dining
services. Trained in European-style fine cuisine,Chef Tong
established his reputation at fine restaurants and hotels in Florida,
California, and Chicago. Now he has adapted his impressive skills to the
world of private entertaining. My Private Chef offers enticing cuisine for a wide range of events, from intimate dinners to weddings to corporate parties.

Chef Chris says:
“Every event is different and I’ve met some wonderful people including
many celebrities. Being part of very special occasions makes my work
worthwhile. I also love conducting cooking demonstrations where I get
the feeling that audience members will go home and try some new dishes!”

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at 773.370.8131 or visit our web site:


Bombay Spice Grill opens 2nd Location in Streeterville Area of Chicago








11 A.M. TO 2 P.M. 

Executive Chef Sunil Kumar is proud to bring his unique twist on healthy, delicious Indian cuisine when Bombay Spice Grill   officially opens its second Chicago location in the  thriving Streeterville area at 213 East Ohio St. on Monday, July 22,  following its triumphant debut at the Taste of Chicago.


On July 22, ONLY, guests at the new location will be treated to FREE CHICKEN TIKKA, a house specialty, available from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. (one per guest).


new express, “create your own” concept is designed for the fast pace of
area business workers and a respite for Michigan Avenue shoppers. 
Whether selecting a bountiful bowl, wrap, salad or sandwich, guests will
have fun customizing their own with a choice of Steak at $8.95; Chicken at $8.35; Veggie at $7.75 or Tofu at $7.75. Select a Base of White Rice, Brown Rice or Quinoa, then; choose a sauce of Curry, Masala, Spinach or Vindaloo (hot).


Bombay Spice Streeterville brings favorites from its River North sister location, including Lentil Soup, Hummus, Chickpea Ceviche, Behi  Puri, Samosa and Chicken Tikka.  The signature beverage is Mango Lassi.  Desserts are Carrot Halawa and Rice Pudding.


most dishes are 500 calories or less and prepared with olive oil rather
than ghee or butter, providing low-fat, heart-healthy meals without
compromising authentic Indian flavors. The nutritional content of each
dish can be viewed at the restaurant or at Perfect for a health-conscious date night out!


Bombay Spice Streeterville is open SundayThursday  from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.


Dinner for 2 with drinks $45 at BOMBAY SPICE GRILL

Chicago’s Bombay Spice Grill (450 N. Clark Street) is spicing up date night every Wednesday with a “Date Night” Special, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Enjoy
a customized three-course dinner for two, which includes an appetizer,
two entrees and a dessert, plus two glasses of wine for $45.00.


Start off by selecting one appetizer such as vegetable samosas, seared eggplant or tandoori wings. Customize each entree by selecting a base of quinoa,
basmati rice or brown rice. Next, select a main ingredient, including
seafood, chicken or vegetables; and finally choose a sauce from masala,
spinach, curry, korma or vindaloo. Complement your custom entrees with a
glass of red or white wine. Finish the night on a sweet note, and share
any one of Bombay Spice Grill’s desserts, including Mango Sorbet, Carrot Halawa or Rice Pudding.


most dishes are 500 calories or less and prepared with olive oil rather
than ghee or butter, providing low-fat, heart-healthy meals without
compromising authentic Indian flavors. The nutritional content of each
dish can be viewed at the restaurant or at Perfect for a health-conscious date night out!



With a motto of “Think Healthy,” Bombay Spice Grill
is able to accommodate any vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free requests,
as the restaurant features healthy, fresh, home-style cooked Indian
Cuisine. Bombay Spice is located in the heart of Chicago’s River North
neighborhood at 450 N. Clark St.

For more information about Bombay Spice, please call (312) 477-7657, visit or view the restaurant’s Facebook and Twitter pages. 


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with El Mariachi

3906 N. Broadway Chicago Il. 60640  #773-549-2932


3420 N. Broadway Chicago Il 60657  #773-549-7020


Revolucion April 8th- Bear and the Rabbit Beer event

A great event not to be missed, come taste some great beer and food!


Healthy Indian Food Cooking Lesson at Bombay Spice March 23rd





Saturday, March 23, 2013


 In honor of March’s National Nutrition Month, join Chef Sunil Kumar of Chicago’s Bombay Spice Grill, 450 N. Clark Street, for a healthy Indian cooking class from 2:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. for $45.00/person on Saturday, March 23.

Learn marinating techniques for Chicken Tikka (Indian Barbecue) and how to make Chickpea Hummus, Kale Tofu Stir Fry, and Sweet Mango Lassi. With
every Bombay Spice Grill menu item under 500 calories and many dishes
less than 200 mgs of sodium, there are a great variety of healthy tasty
Indian options to learn to make at home. All of the Indian spices used
in the dishes Chef Sunil Kumar will demonstrate are linked to health


dishes are prepared with olive oil rather than ghee or butter,
providing low-fat, heart-healthy meals without compromising authentic
Indian flavors. The nutritional content of each dish can be viewed at
the restaurant or at


Seating is limited, so call 312.477.7657 to sign up today! 


Amazing Tequila Dinner at El Mariachi

Our friends at El Mariachi, 3906 N. Broadway Chicago IL. 60613
Have put together this wonderful evening, April 25th @  7pm.
Experience a 4 course special dinner menu paired with
4 cocktails and full flight of tequila!  For  $39 per person!

This is event is ALMOST SOLD OUT.
The owners said they have about 10 seats left.
Call now to reserve a spot!  773-549-2932

FYI – their new restaurant,
Revolucion Mexican Steak House is moving along –
they hope for a late May opening date!
I have seen the inside and is going to be very, very nice!


Roys Restaurant Chicago Summer Prix Fixe Menu includes lots of Local Ingredients

In Hawaii,
there are two things of equal importance—food and the “aloha” spirit. The blending of these two dynamic principles is how Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion® Cuisine was born.

European techniques and Asian cuisine meet Hawaiian hospitality to create a fine dining experience.  In 1988, James Beard Award-winner Roy Yamaguchi opened the first Roy’s in Honolulu, Hawaii. Today there are more than 33 Roy’s locations around the world—25 in the continental U.S., six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam. The restaurant was designed around a unique experience through spacious dining rooms, an expansive lounge and Roy’s signature exhibition kitchen in full view. –  The Chicago location is about 9 years old.

AND I DID NOT KNOW….chefs at each location put their personal touch on the menu. No two Roy’s are exactly the same!  There are six Roy’s in the Los Angeles area alone. And each has a different chef and some unique menu items only available at their own location.

Here in Chicago, we had the opportunity to dine with their Texan chef  partner RHETT DUKES this past week. His Texan roots combined with an art background, blends nicely with Roy’s classic and fusion items. His Glazed pork tenderloin and Mascarpone cheesecake are just a couple of his signature items.

I love Wine by the Glass  – I like variety with my meal, and Roy’s has  32 by the glass to choose from!  PLUS,  amazing tropical martinis.

Roy’s, the internationally renowned Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine dining restaurant, today announced the 2011 Summer Prix Fixe Menu.

The menu is comprised of dishes created by 6 different local Chef Partners, in conjunction with Corporate Chef Kiel Lombardo, to complement the Season.  The 3-Course Summer Prix Fixe Menu does just that, by combining traditional Roy’s fare with a summer twist.

Guests are encouraged to pick one of the following options for each course. Appetizer options include Tampa Chef Ryan Leto’s Little Neck Clams Chorizo, Chicago Chef Rhett Dukes’ Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Woodland Hills Chef Jason Moffit’s Compressed Melon Salad. Filipino Style Grilled Chicken, courtesy of La Jolla Chef Percy Oani, kicks off the entrée selections alongside Sarasota Chef Justin Fields’ Garam Masala Seared Shrimp, Plano Chef Scott Nakachi’s Tamari & Garlic Grilled Flat Iron Steak and Chef Kiel’s Pan Seared Steelhead Trout. The dessert course includes Chef Kiel’s Mascarpone Cheesecake or Chef Roy’s staple, the Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé.
“Each local Chef Partner is what makes each individual Roy’s unique,” said Corporate Executive Chef Kiel Lombardo. “This Summer Prix Fixe menu truly reflects Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s vision, while rewarding the individual style and creativity.”
The 3-Course Summer Prix Fixe Menu is available through September at participating locations for $35.95 per person. Please visit the Roy’s website for additional details at

Roy’s Chicago….720 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 787-7599


Roy’s Chicago for Aloha Hour, Sunday through Thursday in the bar area.
Enjoy indulgent menu items for just $5

Monthly Wine EventsWaina Hui (wine club) is a monthly gathering of friends to sample wines from around the world and to share in the enticing flavors of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Next one is August 3rd –
$20 for members / $25 for non-members.

BRUNCH-  Sundays  at  Roy’s  ..only until September or so from 10am to 2pm. There is a prix fixe brunch brunch or ala carte.


QDOBA – Fresh and Tasty Mexican Grill -Now with Street Tacos

In 1995, Anthony Miller and partner Robert Hauser imported San Francisco’s Mission-style burrito to Colorado, opening the first Qdoba Mexican Grill in Denver. Qdoba immediately won over customers and critics with the restaurant’s Mexican flavors and fresh ingredients.

Obviously, it was an idea whose time had come. Since Qdoba’s auspicious beginnings, we’ve grown to include over 500 Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants from coast to coast. And plenty more are on the way.


I HATE IT when I go out to eat and have no idea what I am eating, the fat content, the caloric count, etc.

Qdoba uses only the freshest ingredients and takes the time to prepare them beautifully. They care about what you’re eating just as much as you do. That’s why they have  created  an easy-to-use Nutritional Calculator. First, just select your meal from the top menu. Then mark each of your ingredients from the lists. It’s EASY!  You can pick low fat, no fat, even vegetarian choices here. HEALTHY and FRESH. Need I say more?

 Recently some team members from Denver were in Chicago to TEST LAUNCH  their new Street Tacos.   Qdoba’s street tacos come on a double wrap of small corn tortillas, with shredded beef or pulled pork, cilantro, and red onion. The combo comes with a side of barbecue baked beans for $4.99. (To give a basis for comparison, the regular tacos cost $6.49 for three, and no beans.)  The pork was very  juicy, and just the right amounts of onion and cilantro.  THESE ARE AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME DURING MAY!


Gourmet street fare – or food prepared and served from carts or trucks on the sides of popular streets – was named one of the hottest restaurant concepts at last year’s National Restaurant Association show in Chicago and was recently served at the White House by renowned chef Rick Bayless. Street fare has its origins in several countries, including Mexico, where there is a great variety of “antojitos mexicanos” that are found at street food vendors who prepare some of the freshest, most delicious and innovative dishes in Mexico.

 An order of Qdoba’s Mini Street Tacos (three tacos) with slow-roasted pork contains only 330 calories and offers 21 grams of protein. Qdoba’s extra lean pork is slow simmered in-house for six hours in a signature blend of spices, including green chilis, jalapenos, bell peppers, garlic and onions.



We got to have a little hands on cooking class with Qdoba while the Denver folks were in town!  Head chef Ted Stoner showed us things like Mango Salsa, different types of hot Salsa, making Fresh Guacamole and how the Pulled Pork is made for the new Street Tacos!

Many recipes and videos are on their site

The ingredients and the flavors are so important. Jalapenos have a reputation for being very hot but actually only rank in the medium to hot range among peppers.

And I discovered how wonderful Tomatillas are!  Known in Mexico as the green tomato, the tomatillo fruit was cultivated by the Aztecs long before the tomato arrived, and it remains a favorite in Mexican foods ranging from stews to salads. This tart, yellow-green nightshade has flavors of lemon, apple and herbs and contains a great deal of vitamins A and C, calcium and folic acid. Tomatillos are the heart of  Salsa Verde.

I don’t want to name any names….but, there are Burritos…..and then there are the Qdoba Burritos!  There is a lot involved in making PERFECT BURRITOS.  Quality meats, artfully made and constructed and just the right amount of everything.

No matter how many burritos you order from a good burrito place, they should all be the same high quality with little variation.

When you recommend a burrito
place to someone, you shouldn’t’t have to worry that their burrito will be radically different than yours had been.

About a year or so back Qdoba had a really fun Fighing Burrito Boredom campaign. You can still watch the videos online.

We got to take a peak in the kitchen –  and you know what we saw? People chopping!  Everything is made fresh and NOT shipped in. fresh Salsa’s, fresh Guacamole, freshly cooked meats.  What a concept!  FRESH! 

You see,  fresh, good quality food , can come in all price points.  The  $150  5 course meal in the Loop!   Or a $5 meal at Qdoba.

If you have never been to Qdoba or thought it was just another fast food joint – check it out. You will be  WOWed.

Dozens of locations in Chicagoland.

And check out the recipes online!

Derrick Sorles

Best of the Best Dining Restaurants Food Wine Chicago



I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.
– – – H. L. Mencken

Although the city is as American as deep dish pizza and hotdogs, Chicago is truly a city of neighborhoods that reflect heritage and ethnic diversity.  Similar to major cities such as Boston, New York and San Francisco – people of all cultures originally settled in the Windy City.   As immigration continued, each culture brought their traditions and cuisine with them – from Asian to Indian, Italian to Mexican – Chicago is considered a great place to sample original, authentic food.  Some of the local restaurants previewed here go back to the 1920’s – immigrating families brought the recipes, and have passed on their famous places to their children and grandchildren.




In the late 1800s, Greeks began immigrating to this small section South of Chicago’s  Loop. Today, what remains is a number of high quality restaurants that keep this area thriving.  Greektown – located at Halsted Street between Van Buren and Washington is definitely a place to experience in Chicago.  Sprinkled along Halsted, there’s a cluster of Greek eateries all snuggled together.  Although menus and ambience are all similar, it’s fun to stop by one place, say Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted St.., 312/782-9855 for a drink and some saganaki (followed by the traditional OM PA!)

Just move on down the block for dinner; there are more than a few places to choose: Santorini, 800 W. Adams St., 312-829-8820); Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted St., 312-726-2407 and Costas, 340 S. Halsted St., 312-263-0767, are all good bets for gyros, Greek salads, shish kabobs, and the classic moussaka.

End the evening at Nine Muses, 315 S. Halsted St. 312-902-9922 with a game of backgammon and drinks.  At 10 pm., the dancing begins! An added bonus at Nine Muses is that you can pop in for kabobs or a snack until 1 am.



The heart of this neighborhood is a stretch of Taylor Street known for traditional, hearty Italian restaurants. One of the “anchor” favorites is Francesca’s on Taylor, 1400 W. Taylor St., 312-829-2828. .Although Francesca’s is part of a local chain that also includes Mia Francesca. – there is nothing “chain” about this food.  Trattoria ambience and rustic cooking is the mainstay of Francesca’s. Appetizers include standards such as Bruschette and Carpaccio – served with a combination of added ingredients such as marinated mushrooms, artichokes and sweet provolone that enrich the flavors of these mainstays.  There is a full offering of pastas that include Penne alla Paesana – sautéed with Italian sausage, wild mushrooms, and peas in a tomato cream sauce. A non- pasta favorite is Salmon alla Fresca – grilled with tomato, avocado, red onion and olive oil, basil and lemon over a bed of asparagus.

The second “swear by” place clinging to the tradition of filling one’s belly is Rosebud on Taylor, 1500 W. Taylor St. 312-942-1117.  The old stand bys are very popular here – Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna.  You’ll never be disappointed in the Pasta Fagioli, or any pasta dressed with their vodka sauce. Rosebud has also added a location near the Magnificent Mile at 720 N. Rush St. 312-266-6444.

Tucked away in Little Italy is Bruna’s Ristorante 2424 S. Oakley Ave. 773-254-5550, serving authentic Italian food since 1933.  This cozy eatery, owned by Tuscan born Luciano Silvestri, is known for signature dishes such as eggplant parmigana and spaghetti carbanara. Bruna’s has an outstanding family house wine, and locally is considered a great place to have a romantic dinner for two.

Although not located in the City, if you are willing to travel suburban Glenview, a favorite is Café Lucci, 609 Milwaukee Ave., 847-729-2268. Owner and wine master Bobby Arnfi selections have won Café Lucci the prestigious Wine Spectator award of excellence – every year since 2002.  In addition to incredible wines, Chef Augie Arnfi serves up fresh fish, chicken, veal and pasta specials daily.  The sautéed mussels in wine and garlic, veal chop with fungi mushroom sauce, and Portobello mushroom soup are personal favorites.  New menu items include Costolette d’Agnello Rosamaria, a half rack of roasted Silverton Ridge lamb in a Cognac rosemary sauce, and Linguini con Aragosta Fra Diavolo — two 6-oz. Brazilian lobster tails sautéed in a spicy tomato sauce served over linguini. The preparation of their Chilean Sea Bass – when available – should never be passed up.



The commercial heart of Lincoln Square is located at Lawrence, Western and Lincoln Avenues in Chicago. This quaint, old world neighborhood has a charm all its own. Lincoln Square is home to a number of German businesses, notably the Chicago Brauhaus and Lutz Continental Café.  Lutz is a popular destination for traditional German pastries.

If you hit the season right, enjoy the annual Oktoberfest celebration held in Lincoln Square.  Festivities include a colorful parade and the ability to listen to a variety of German music while watching people and their beer spill out into the street.

For a daily dose of libations, turn to Huettenbar, 4721 N. Lincoln Ave.
773-561-2507 which serves 10 varieties of German beer, and still has a “stampstich” – the traditional large booth where old Germans gather in the front of the bar.

At the Chicago Brauhaus, located at 4732 N Lincoln Ave., 773-784-4444 proprietor’s Harry and Guenter Kempf have been serving up herring, hackepeter, sauerkraut and schnitzel for over 40 years. If you love the music, they’ll sell you singer Gody’s CD to take home as a sticky memory.  The Brauhaus is a great place to go with a big group – enjoy a year round celebration of Oktoberfest!



Chicago’s Chinatown is south of the Loop and concentrated along Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue.  There are many sights to explore in Chinatown, and Chicago’s is certainly as authentic as San Francisco’s but on a slightly smaller scale.  If you are there just to eat,  sometimes ordering and language barriers still exist – so pointing to what you want on the menu for any restaurant in Chinatown can be a good idea!

A tradition since 1927, Won Kow, 2237 S. Wentworth Ave.  312-842-7500 is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Chinatown. Won Kow also has a full bar – noted because most of Chinatown’s restaurants are BYOB. The calling card for Won Kow is dim sum and very reasonable prices. The menu contains of over 100 items, which makes it difficult to make a decision. Won Kow also has a special menu section for those who love their food spicy! The customer can order up their spice in degrees. Other house specialties include Mongolian chicken and duck with seafood.

The China Café 2300 S Wentworth Ave, 312-808-0202 is not a destination for décor – it displays simple plastic tablecloths and only embraces 20 tables.  However, this is considered a classic Chinese restaurant in every sense: affordable, fast service, and features a variety of fresh seafood.


Chicago is home to Rick Bayless – the famous chef known for his love of authentic Mexican dishes.  Bayless has published several successful cookbooks and has his own show on PBS. One of the chef’s unique traditions is to close down his restaurants for two weeks each year. He fly’s the staff to the nooks and crannies of Mexico to immerse everyone in the local food and cooking methods.   His restaurants – Topolabamba and Frontera Grill (both are located at 445 North Clark Street  312-661-1434), are well known as a destination for many tourists and business people landing in Chicago and seeking high end Mexican cuisine.

A lesser known place that’s excellent for upscale Mexican dining is Salpicon 1252 N. Wells, 312-988-7811. Mexico City born chef/proprietor Priscilla Satkoff fills the menu with authentic flavors that were originally inspired by her grandmother.  The balance of flavorful dishes with one of the best fine dining wine lists alone would make this a good choice.  The decision becomes easier for any connoisseur of Tequila.  Salpicon has one of the largest collections of tequila and offers tasting flights ¾ oz of 4 tequilas (Blanco’s, Reposados and Anegos, for example.)

Pancho Pistolas, 700 W 31st St 312-225-8808 is located in the heart of Chicago’s historic Bridgeport neighborhood – very close to U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox.  If you are willing to venture outside of the Loop for great Mexican food, consider the short trip.  Pancho Pistolas is famous for their skirt steak carne asada, vegetarian burritos, and they definitely pour a good margarita!  In the summer, the Garcia brothers open the patio so you can sip the tangy concoctions outside.


Arun’s 4156 N Kedzie Ave. 773-539-1909 is the city’s gourmet interpreter of Thai cuisine.  For a fixed price, try their unique Chef Design Menu – which features a 12 course offering, Arun’s also allows their patrons to “dial up the heat” on any dish.  The service is excellent and the wait staff takes special care to be aware of any food allergies. The portions are elegantly presented, but small.  This is a fine dining establishment and the prices reflect that…

Red Light, 820 W Randolph St. 312-733-8880, is the creation of Chef Jackie Shen.  The fusion offerings incorporate Asian, Chinese and French ingredients and cooking methods. Located in the trendy market district, consider their $70, 6-8 course chef tasting menu that allows patrons to sample a variety of dishes. Recommendations include the spring rolls, Black Tie Sesame Shrimp, Shogun Hanger Steak as an entrée and anything on the desert menu (as they have an outstanding pastry chef – Susana Castillo at the helm). If offered, try the coconut-banana cream pie.  The heavenly accompaniment is a dollop of coconut sorbet.

If visual and avant-garde are your passion, try Moto Restaurant at 945 W. Fulton Market 312-491-0058. Famous executive chef Homaro Cantu (formerly of Charlie Trotter’s) is a master of science and a magician in designing experiments in food chemistry. Cantu’s multi-course menu changes daily.  He has appeared on TV Food Network’s Iron Chef – mesmerizing viewers with a variety of invented gadgets and unusual cooking approaches.  Don’t be surprised if you are presented with an edible menu when dining at Moto.  Extreme science is Cantu’s culinary platform – so eating at Moto is truly experiential.


A La Turka, located at 3134 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-935-6101, is one of the best places in the city to explore Turkish fare.  As an appetizer course, they offer a variety of Mediterranean delights from eggplant to hummus.  Their lamb shank dinner entrée is moist and flavorful.  Dinner experiences can also include a visit to their hooka bar or a belly dancing session.  These are professional belly dancers, but feel free to stand up and work off dinner.

For some of the best Swedish morsels Chicago has to offer, try Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont Ave.773-348.2378.  Owner Tom Tunney bought the restaurant at age 21 from Ann Sather.  In addition to managing this business, Tom is also the Alderman of the 44th Ward, where Ann Sather’s resides.  The classic breakfast menu includes Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries, Swedish waffles, and their famous cinnamon rolls.  Ann Sather is only open for breakfast and lunch.

For a taste of India, consider Klay Oven, 414 N Orleans St, 312-527-3999.  It’s a surprise to be able to enjoy authentic Indian cuisine in the heart of  Chicago’s River North district. Owner Prem Khosla serves up vegetarian delights such as Vegetable Biryani (Basmati rice pilaf with sautéed vegetables, cloves, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, fresh coriander.)  Their Tandori Grill includes dishes such as Chooza Kabab, boneless chicken cubes marinated in yogurt, fresh lemon, crushed black pepper laced with saffron threads.  Klay Oven is authentic and dishes are created with passion.

There are many more opportunities to explore Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants.   Each of the neighborhoods mentioned have many more little cafes, bistros, diners, and breakfast places to discover.  One of the best feelings is to find a gem, that serves food with care and little fanfare – that can become one of your “favorite” places to dine in Chicago.

It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.
– – – Mark Twain “Life On The Mississippi,” 1883