Category Archives: Mexican

Tiki Taco Thursday August 21st

best mexican food chicago


Culinary Food Fight Club May 15th at Park Tavern



Food, drinks , and most importantly  RAISE  $$$  to feed  the homeless.

1 Hour Open Bar from 6-7 PM (challenge starts at 7 PM sharp) + Chef Samples + People’s Choice Voting Ballot + Live music and more!  TICKETS!


Live Monthly Cooking Competitions around Chicago produced by Culinary Fight Club. Each month fires up with a new theme, ingredients, contestants, judges, prizes, and location! See for yourself!


(3-4) Contestants have (60) minutes to impress (4) judges, using (1) 10k BTU Burner and (15) supplied & (4) surprise ingredients, all to be judged on that one perfect bite! Hungry, don’t worry there is also a People’s Choice Award, so the first 100 attendees get (1) ounce samples from each contestant!


With each TasteBud Challenge, we build a bigger and stronger community of people who share a passion for food and giving back. All proceeds benefit a 501c3 Non-Profit Fight2Feed, a Charitable Organization on a mission to “KO” hunger in Chicago.

For more details and developments on the non-profit and/or to get involved, subscribe to our website HERE and “Like” us on Facebook!

Interested in being a Contestant, Judge, or Volunteer? Email us at or visit our website



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!


Revolucion Steakhouse Brunch with a Twist


Brunch Done with a Mexican Twist!



Every Saturday & Sunday! Brunch at Revolucion!  They have a new  Spring Brunch & Cocktail Menus full of amazing new flavors! Both Sweet & Savory dishes with a Mexican twist to please anyone’s palate. In addition to our $3 Mimosas & Bloody Mary’s, they also offer innovative beverages including Sorbetsmith’s Salted Lime Sorbet Michelada Float- that’s muy sabroso!

3443 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657

Phone: 773-661-9893



New Years Eve at Revolucion in Lakeview


Join Revolucion on New Year’s Eve 

Join us on Tuesday December 31st as we part ways with 2013 with a

fabulous 3 course prix fixe menu brought to you by Chef Jose Navejas

(Regular menu will also be available)


Includes a Complimentary Glass of Champagne



Special Wine Dinner at Revolucion Mexican Steak house

Chef Jose Navejas and Beverage Director Jorge Rios bring you a one of a
kind opportunity to taste a carefully sculptured menu combining rustic
Mexican staples with a contemporary touch.


This exclusive wine dinner will include a five course dinner

paired with wines of Argentina.

Reserve your seat to experience this one of a kind dinner
Thursday, October 17th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
$40 per person,
exclusive of tax and gratuity
Only    8    Seats     Left!
For Reservations Call 773.661.9893

El Mariachi to Host Lurie Benefit September 21st


fundraiser at El Mariachi in Chicago.  3906 N Broadway!    $40 per person gets you all you
can drink house margaritas, Miller Light, and Coronas plus an amazing
appetizer buffet!

This is a prepaid event. Please pay by
September 14.
You can pay by cash or check to Lavender or me or pay
on-line using PayPal (ask and I’ll email you a link). Sorry but there’s
no refunds. For more information please email me at

We want to encourage everyone to utilize the mode of transportation that
is safest for them. Public transit and cabs are readily available.
Also, one of the owners of a nearby parking lot has agreed to donate
free parking for our event! His lot is 832 W Sheridan. Greeley school.
He’ll have a guy there to guide people in.

And remember, it’s
for a great cause! The Lurie Children’s Marathon Team is a highly
motivated group of runners who show their dedication to improving the
lives of sick children and their families by raising funds for Ann &
Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago while training for the
Bank of America Chicago Marathon. This will be the second time that I
have the privilge of running on this great team!

And a huge thank you to El Marachi for hosting us!


Memorial Day brunch with El Mariachi

Join Us This 

Memorial Day 

For Brunch & 1/2 Price House Margaritas  

Business Hours

11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.


1/2 Price House Margaritas 


Come and experience one of the hottest up and coming brunch spots in the boys town/east Lakeview neighborhoods.  

Great place to enjoy with family & friends.  An amazing expansive brunch menu.  

Brunch Done With A Mexican Twist!!!

We Wil Be Serving Brunch From 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.



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!


Revolucion Mexican Steak House Opens in Lakeview

Revolución (3443 N. Broadway), is a a new Mexican steakhouse from the folks behind El Mariachi (3906 and 3420 N. Broadway). 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, or a full 2-3 course meal. It’s all here.
 Amazing selections including 3 different kinds of Guacamole ($8-9).
 3 different kinds of Ceviche ($8).
 Lots of soups and salads. Over a dozen appetizers ($7-$11).
Steaks galore! From Rib Eye to Filet Mignon to Lamb Chops (average $32). And they can come with different types of rubs, signature crusts and sauces. Best of all, the steaks are NOT all ala carte. Steaks and chops include bread service, house salad and choice of potatoes. The chipotle mashed potatoes are worth the trip on their own!
 Over a dozen house specialties to choose from ranging from including a 1/2 pound house burger for $11, over roasted chicken for $14 and grilled salmon for $17. 
Plus an awesome Taco selection to pick from including Chicken, beef and pork (all done with different recipes)  as well as   Achiote rubbed Tilapia, Shrimp with Chipolte cream sauce and Sausage with Potatoes (4 tacos for $14). The price points are spot on in this restuarant, the portions are perfect and this restaurant is so what Boystown and Lakeview needed! Great food that is not overpriced. 
 If your are thirsty, there is a full service bar with an extensive wine selection, tequilas, craft beers (5 beers from local brewery) and hand crafted  margaritas (The Cucumber Jalapeno and the “Manhanttan” margarita were probably my two favorites!) and other cocktails.
3443 N Broadway
(at Hawthorne Pl)

Chicago, IL 60657

(773) 697-9314


Mexican Independence Celebration Sept. 16th, 2012

 El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill
    3906 N.Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60613



Cinco de Mayo at El Mariachi Restaurants

Historically the Cinco de Mayo holiday commemorates the victory
of a heroic people and their struggle for freedom. On May 5, 1862 the
outnumbered State of Puebla, Mexico defeated French forces which fueled
the momentum and national confidence to ultimately drive foreign power
completely from the country.

The reason for this celebration is
to foment the Mexican history, rich traditions and maintain our roots
present in our younger generations.

Today fiesta lovers across
the United States will gather to celebrate the Mexican holiday. Cinco de
Mayo is now celebrated in towns across the U.S. that are predominately

It’s  becoming more popular than St. Patrick’s Day, in some cities!

WE’LL  be  at  El Mariachi! 2 great locations!


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!


Revolucion Mexican SteakHouse Comes to Lakeview

The owners of  El Mariachi restaurants, both on Broadway in Lake View, plans to open a
Mexican steak house—on Broadway, naturally—this spring. The 120-seater
will serve classic prime steaks such as New York strip, rib eye, and
filet mignon with Mexican sides and margaritas as well as guacamole and
seviches, and will be called Revolución Steak House (3443 N. Broadway;
no phone yet). The liquor license is in place and they plan to be late Spring!


Valentines Specials at El Mariachi !

Reserve Today 773-549-2932
3906 N. Broadway | Chicago, IL 60613

Free Parking In Back 


El Mariachi $20 Champagne Brunch

 BRUNCH at El Mariachi just got even better! This week they introduce the $20 Champagne Brunch with free flowing Mimosas.

Saturdays & Sundays are great for brunch at EL Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill. Their superb Champagne Mimosa Brunch   has an extensive Brunch menu which includes chilaquiles, skillets, omelettes, tortas and lots of Mexican favorites.  The food here is always  EXCELLENT!

All Breakfast items are made to order and freshly prepared. 

Adrian, one of the two brothers who helps run the restaurant has been working with his father since the age of 11! He prides himself on quality management. “We pride ourselves  on selecting quality ingredients and not skimping to save a few pennies, like some restaurants might do. Everything is fresh and made to order. “

If you love guacamole, you have to get it here and they make it to order tableside. It’s ALWAYS good. Never thinned down like some restaurants will blend in sour cream. Just fresh, pure, quality ingredients. Just recently a new chef came onboard and suggested they add just a few drops of avocado oil to the guacamole which gives it a nice smooth texture and finish.

The $20 Champagne Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
EL Mariachi’s custom roasted coffee and an entree from our brunch menu are included.  And unlimited Mimosas.

El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill’s is simply perfect for any occasion.  It’s the perfect setting for family get togethers or a casual afternoon between friends! 

El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill   3906 N Broadway   Ph. 773.549.2932


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


Best Taco Bell in Chicago 2575 N. Clyburn


Did you know? Fastfood employees are the largest group of low-paid workers in the United States today.

How many times have you pulled up to a drive thru window, only to be greeted by a static filled box with garbled words by someone who could care less about you or your food order?  Then while you wait for order they are goofing off, talking about last nights antics or who is having a baby. They could care less about you and your food. And I have come to accept that. That’s the world we live in.

I first went to this Taco Bell at 2575 N. Clyburn, about 2 years ago. And the young ladies voice, SMILED at me, through the speakers! You could hear her genuine friendliness. I thought OK, this is a fluke. 2 weeks later, another trip through, a different employee, and the same experience!  Where am I? The Twilight Zone? 

2 years later and it’s the same thing, everytime. Employees that care. Employees that are nice. Employees that pay attention. There is always napkins, a reciept and piece of candy in my bag, EVERYTIME.   Do you know how hard it is to find quality employees in  the fast food business or big box stores? NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE!

I had to ask the manager today what is the deal?  Latoya said she had been there for 5 years and they just really try hard to stand out in this competitive market where the  consumer  has choices. She hopes the consumer picks them!

Politeness and Friendliness  aside, they always deliver an excellent product, well put together and not thrown into the nag.  This Taco Bell does an OUTSTANDING JOB and I wanted to give them props as one of the BEST OF BEST in CHICAGO!

TACO BELL  2575 North Clybourn Avenue, at Wrightwood
Chicago, IL 60614-1940 (773) 281-5063

Derrick Sorles
Best of the Best Dining and Restaurants in 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