Los Nopales is just what you would expect. A good neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and, as its name suggests, it features cactus (cacti?) in several dishes. It’s a BYOB with a small corkage fee which is always a nice option.
On the other hand — the blogger wants to go off road and plug Taqueria La Haciendita at 5151 S Kedzie in Chicago, where she had the BEST tacos. This restaurant is so neighborhoody it makes Los Nopales look like a theme restaurant. The blogger would definitely return to Los Nopales if she were in the neighborhood, but she would drive to Tacqueria La Haciendita.
Cuisine and style of dining: It’s a casual neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
4544 N. Western, Chicago, IL
Visited on January 18, 2014
Honestly. This score is probably inflated because it was our “Festivus for the Rest of Us” celebration (otherwise known as Christmas Eve) and we were probably cajoled into more good cheer which led to a higher rating than was warranted. This was the second installment in what we thought would become a family Festivus tradition. We won’t be returning. It’s not that it was a bad meal; it’s just that it wasn’t as good as we remembered. And therein lies the first problem. It was fixed menu and it was exactly the same as the year before , only not as good. Some of what we had: Truita de Patata, Gambas al Ajillo, Datiles con Almendras, Costillas de Ternera, Serrano Fig and Ham Salad.
The restaurant was full, although no one was waiting for tables. Yet, the atmosphere felt unnecessarily harried. We had a hard time getting water refills and here’s a suggestion to every restauranteur: YOUR BUS STAFF SHOULD NOT WIPE DOWN TABLES WITH NASTY DIRTY KITCHEN TOWELS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MEAL.
Cuisine and Style of Dining: Catalan and you could totally wear sequins here.
638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
Visited on December 24, 2013
Generally, we’re within a point of each other, but Ada Street had the largest point spread, from a 2 to a 5. Some reasons for the 2: 1) the Brewer thought the atmosphere was pretentious. (Upon entering, you pass the turntable and album stand and are told they only play LP’s and you can make requests); and 2) the lack of decent seating for parties of 5.
Some of what we ordered: marinated olive, polenta fries, fried manchego cheese, fried brussels sprouts, salmon spring roll, strip loin with aged balsamic. On special: a gnocchi dish.
The Money and the Blogger would definitely return and sit at the bar.
Cuisine and style of dining: “Ada Street’s menu celebrates the seasons with beautiful ingredients, passion and love.”
1664 N. Ada Street, Chicago, IL
Visited on 12/15/2013
This is a family old-reliable. There’s an upstairs and downstairs. The Blogger prefers the downstairs. The Critic and the Brewer prefer the upstairs. The others are not committed. Pastas tend to be over sauced and portions are too big, but that’s the American way. (On this visit we had a clear view of the station where the servers would either pack-up left over food or throw it in the garbage. The amounts were staggering.) Let’s start a new food movement, shall we — we’ll call it No More Leftovers. Humans should not be served piles of food that they can’t possibly eat. Still. We return. Really good stuffed artichokes.
Cuisine and style of dining: Italian-American and twinkly lights year round.
1154 West Taylor, Chicago, IL.
Visited on December 5, 2013.
Let the Blogger get this out of the way right now. The server forgot my diet coke. He apologized profusely and then forgot it again and again apologized profusely. Then he forgot my coffee. Which never came. Sorry. I don’t drink.
Some of what we ordered: klug farm apples , grapes, frites and romesco, classic main lobster roll. Because we had over an hour wait, we drank up at The Punch House which is downstairs from Dusek’s. There we had a pot of house pickles, wood roasted olives, stuffed pretzels, oysters, and punch, other alcoholic beverages, and a diet coke that arrived promptly – with lemon.
I think some of us would return to Punch House before Dusek’s.
Cuisine and style of dining: “beer-inspired cuisine”
1227 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL
Visited on 11/7/2013
We ordered: poutine, arugula salad, a burger or two or three, mussels. The food was good but the beer is the reason to go and it will be the reason you return.
Cuisine and style of dining: Craft brew and food; nice low-key atmosphere .
3155 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL
Visited on November 1, 2013
We orderd: knish, chicken liver toast, raw kale salad, shaved brussels sprouts, smoked whitefish and bibb lettuce salad, chicken pot pie, roast chicken, rice pudding.
This could easily become the go-to restaurant for the Blogger and the Money.
(We’ve learned that the knish has been removed from the menu. Most unfortunate.)
Cuisine and style of dining: Jewish Deli and cozy clubby feel
354 West Hubbard, Chicago, IL
Visited on October 5, 2013
This restaurant would have received a 6 (which is pretty unheard of for us) except for a seating problem and one snippy comment from a waiter that caused the Critic to rate it a 4. Everyone else rated it a 6. One of our ongoing problems has been being seated with a party of 5 at rectangular tables where one person looks across the table at an empty spot. We Need More Round Tables! It’s hurting the ratings, I’m telling you.
Some of what we ordered: monkey bread, duck fat fries, radishes, (which looked like they came straight out of the garden and arrived at the table with their tops still on) smoked carrot salad, farm roasted half chicken, beef sirloin cap. The Blogger would go back just for the smoked carrot salad. There wasn’t anything we ate that we didn’t like — a lot.
Cuisine and style of dining: American
2152 N. Damen, Chicago, IL
Visited on 9/21/2013
What. a. disappointment. Beautiful room. Food that gave an impression of what was trendy thirty years ago. Uninspiring preparation. Spent a good long time selecting a wine which they didn’t have. Made absolutely no effort to help with the selection of a new bottle. Our server literally told us to “pick out a new bottle.” I know. It’s ironic. Singh stood behind the bar with her arms crossed. Never greeted anyone. And she’s like a minor celebrity in Chicago. Come on.
Should have scored a 1.
720 N. Wells, Chicago, IL
Regretfully visited on August 31, 2013.
This is northern Italian cooking. Some dishes were very good, and others were not so good.
To be fair, SOFI would have scored between a 3 and a 4 except that the Critic didn’t like his Cavatelli cacio e pepe. The search continues. And, we found the service to be not pitched right. We think our server was new in the profession, not particularly familiar with Italian cooking in general, and was, consequently, a little stiff and awkward. This should improve.
We ordered: Cozze Livornese (mussels), Ruchetta baby Arugola, Cavatelli cacio e pepe, Coste brasate (braised short ribs), and grilled scallops on special.
Cuisine and style of dining: Northern Italian with a cozy/rustic ambiance. The chairs are a little uncomfortable, though.
616 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL
Visited on August 17, 2013.