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    Post #1 - February 19th, 2005, 11:18 pm
    Post #1 - February 19th, 2005, 11:18 pm Post #1 - February 19th, 2005, 11:18 pm
    LTH,

    Had a wonderful time at the Mike G Short-Notice-A-Thon. We hit 13, yep, count em, 13 places and had 12 participants.

    I'm sure full reports, including one from me, will be posted in the next day or two, but I thought I'd post my favorite picture from the day.

    Caldron of Carnitas at Carnitas Don Pedro.
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on February 20th, 2005, 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - February 20th, 2005, 5:09 pm
    Post #2 - February 20th, 2005, 5:09 pm Post #2 - February 20th, 2005, 5:09 pm
    LTH,

    Need I mention how enjoyable spending the day with fellow LTHers was? Much as I enjoy comparative carnitas tasting with a side of Bobak's, it always astounds me that 12 very different people can spend the entire day together with not one harsh word spoken and end up, 11 hours later at Vito and Nick's, tummy full and a smile on their face.

    Speaking of Bobak's, when I walked in my first thought was holy cow, it's a river of sausage. :)
    Image

    Speaking of holy cow, this fine fellow can be found on the roof of Winston's Irish Grocery.
    Image

    And speaking of Carnitas, who can help but love the pig art at Carnitas Uruapan.
    Image

    More to come.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - February 20th, 2005, 7:43 pm
    Post #3 - February 20th, 2005, 7:43 pm Post #3 - February 20th, 2005, 7:43 pm
    G Wiv wrote:LTH,

    Need I mention how enjoyable spending the day with fellow LTHers was? Much as I enjoy comparative carnitas tasting with a side of Bobak's, it always astounds me that 12 very different people can spend the entire day together with not one harsh word spoken and end up, 11 hours later at Vito and Nick's, tummy full and a smile on their face.


    Gotta concur here. Saturday was an amazing day in many respects - starting with the huge vat of bubbling pig parts at Don Pedro (and the very humorous, if decidedly non-PC response from the man weilding the paddle when I observed aloud that they certainly weren't playing games there). Another definite highlight was the wall art at Uruapan (pictured above), with the mama pig wringing her hooves and weeping bitter tears while observing her hubby being turned into carnitas, while the twisted, cannibalistic pig-chef looks on, laughing derisively....

    I do feel the need to point out, however, that Vito and Nick's was not the final stop in the Mike G Short Notice-A-Thon, the Skylark (Cermak and Halsted) was. Somehow, we even managed to further extend our gastronomic excesses, with Tater Tots and "Bloody Mary" Onion Rings (both of which were quite good, BTW). ReneG, trixie-pea and I finally pulled the plug there sometime after midnight. This was my first "A-Thon" experience and I'd definitely encourage other LTHers to take part in future adventures. I really learned a lot & it was a great time.

    Skylark
    2149 South Halsted, Chicago
    312-948-5275
    I exist in Chicago, but I live in New Orleans.
  • Post #4 - February 20th, 2005, 9:10 pm
    Post #4 - February 20th, 2005, 9:10 pm Post #4 - February 20th, 2005, 9:10 pm
    ChiNOLA wrote:Another definite highlight was the wall art at Uruapan (pictured above), with the mama pig wringing her hooves and weeping bitter tears while observing her hubby being turned into carnitas, while the twisted, cannibalistic pig-chef looks on, laughing derisively....


    ChiNOLA,

    I love the pic from Carnitas Uruapan.

    It's interesting that you interpret the crying piggie as female, though with eyelashes and gentle "before the breasts" hand gesture, I'm sure you're right. What is also interesting to me is that she is not hysterical (as The Wife might be, I presume, if she saw me boiling in pot); rather, she is mournful albeit restrained, as though this is something that must be accepted, the natural consequence of things, the way of the world, and she may be next.

    The piggy-in-the-pot is not in pain, though he is casting off droplets of delicious perspiration, fearfully apprehensive yet accepting of his fate, for he, schmoo-like, must perish to please us.

    And we-- we are reflected in the demonic guffaw of the gleeful chef, the semi-human/semi porcine personage with the wait-staff jacket and pants, and the human hands, happy to serve one of his kind to us, the kings of creation, at the top of the food chain, and loving it, or as the sign beckons, Disfrutelas.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #5 - February 21st, 2005, 9:49 am
    Post #5 - February 21st, 2005, 9:49 am Post #5 - February 21st, 2005, 9:49 am
    Well, thanks to all who came along for helping keep me from being bored Saturday-- as always it was great fun conducting this kind of moveable feast across unknown parts of the city. The funny part is, after all that planning about the southwest suburbs, we never actually got out of the city, so there's a whole unused itinerary for another Thon based out there that we'll have to make use of one of these days.

    I'm going to post quick notes about each stop here, and poach a few of GWiv's pics but please, I hope folks will continue to follow that with more of the things they found most interesting or amusing along the way:

    1-3. Carnitas-A-Sub-Thon

    We met up at Don Pedro, where we saw the truly astounding copper pots and the guy stirring whole racks of ribs Flintstones-style with a canoe paddle. Brain taquitos (which Rich4 bought a perhaps overenthusiastic number of) smelled really good, but as it would turn out this carnitas, though perfectly decent, was nobody's #1 that I heard. The contest was between Sabas Vega, which has the great display of carnitas and scored fat on stakes in the window (which I first saw at the Polo's lunch a couple of years ago), and Carnitas Uruapan, home of that wonderful artwork (it's like walking into a tiny chapel in a small Italian town and discovering an unknown altarpiece by Raphael or Tintoretto). Sabas Vega was a little greasier, Uruapan probably slightly the best overall and it had the added benefit of a cactus side dish or topping-- fried nopales strips with crumbled cheese-- that was really good, sort of like a Greek salad. That was probably the best discovery of the day, well worth seeking out:

    Image

    There was also goat at all three stops, I'll let someone else do the goat report.

    Carnitas Don Pedro
    1113 W 18th St

    Sabas Vega Meat Market
    1808 S Ashland Ave

    Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant
    1725 W 18th

    No American Girl dolls were harmed in the making of this carnitas.


    4a. Bridegport Bakery/4b. Apacheé Grill
    As noted, Cathy2, ReneG and I popped over to Bridgeport Bakery while everyone else reconnoitered, somewhat confusedly, at a little American Indian-themed Mexo-Italo-coffee place that looks like it'd be fun to take the kids back to, just for its wild west decor. Pizza looked quite decent, as did the big jar of homemade pickled stuff. Here's the best artwork in the place:

    Image

    That's pretty much us, right there, trying to find the place after ReneG, of all people, got confused about his South Side directions.

    Apachee Grill & Coffee Pizzeria
    (773) 376-4015
    3429 S Archer Ave


    5-8: Sausage-A-Sub-Thon With a Big Baby Chaser
    Three sausage shops followed, though with a break in between. The first was the giant Bobak's at Archer and Cicero, a sausage wonderland (the cheap packages of smoked pig tails for flavoring soup were probably my favorite discover, along with an Amish butter made for the Polish market in Indiana). Though the most common purchase of the day turned out to be Old Krupnik, a Polish Barenjäger wannabe for $9.99 a bottle. Cheap honey liqueur? We'll see if that was a bad idea.

    We stopped into Nicky's for a Big Baby (a very respectable cheeseburger, thankfully mayo or 1000 free) and to read the poem on the wall as you walk in, then went on to Winston's, last of the Irish sausage markets. Just proves that there really isn't that much to Irish cuisine when it can barely even make a shop this tiny look well stocked, but along with things like Cooked Mashed Peas and Weetabix, people picked up sausages and Irish bacon and soda bread (which I'm enjoying a lot).

    Finally we headed down Pulaski to Rosario's, home of one of the best neon signs in town. Do we detect the hand of the Master of Uruapan, working in a new medium? The theme is certainly the same, although his work has taken on a new joyous, transcendent quality missing in the earlier work as the pigs eagerly scamper to their sausagey reward:

    Image

    Bobak's Sausage Company
    5275 S. Archer

    Nicky's - The Real McCoy
    5801 S Kedzie Av
    773 436-6458

    Winston's
    4701 W. 63rd St
    (773) 767-4353

    Rosario's Italian Sausage
    8611 S Pulaski Rd
    (773) 585-0660


    9. City Market; 10. Zacatacos; 11. Vito & Nick's 12. Skylark

    We also poked into a cramped middle eastern market just south of Rosario's and picked up some zatar and a homemade byrek-type pastry I actually haven't eaten yet. Then we decided that, a couple of hours behind schedule and still in the city, it was crazy to drive 45 minutes for pizza when Vito & Nick's was literally two blocks behind us. But on the other hand, it was still kind of early for pizza. So we drove back to a taco place we had seen pumping lots of carne asada smoke into the air first.

    One unfortunate note is that Zacatacos kind of got hostile when Gary tried to take a picture-- maybe just because they were super busy on a Saturday night (I'd bet people have been killed over parking spaces at this place, it was a mob scene). Hopefully Gary will post the sketch I drew of his encounter... However, I thought the carne asada was pretty decent (Rene says the other outlet, a little further north, is better; it might also be better sometime other than Saturday night) and I liked the pastor, complete with pineapple on the cone, a lot.

    Finally, beer and pizza and slow service at a packed Vito & Nick's. Best pizza in Chicago? I don't think anyone was left in the frame of mind to make such judgements. Then, off to Skylark for Guinness and Tater Tots, to mark the 12th hour and more of a great and filling day with good companions.

    Image

    City Market
    Pulaski and Columbus

    Zacatacos
    71st & Pulaski
    also 59th & Pulaski

    Vito & Nick's Pizzeria
    8433 South Pulaski Road
    1-773-735-2050

    Skylark
    2149 S. Halsted St.
    312-948-5275
    Last edited by Mike G on April 25th, 2006, 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #6 - February 21st, 2005, 10:30 am
    Post #6 - February 21st, 2005, 10:30 am Post #6 - February 21st, 2005, 10:30 am
    Mike G wrote:Uruapan probably slightly the best overall and it had the added benefit of a cactus side dish or topping-- fried nopales strips with crumbled cheese-- that was really good, sort of like a Greek salad. That was probably the best discovery of the day, well worth seeking out.


    Mike,

    Agreed that Uruapan held a slight edge overall in the Carnitas category. The Catus dish was actually called "cactus salad" (Ensalada de Nopales) and was a good find indeed. They also had a version of this on the menu at Don Pedro, but we didn't tryit. After trying the Uruapan version, I wish we had.
    I exist in Chicago, but I live in New Orleans.
  • Post #7 - February 21st, 2005, 12:54 pm
    Post #7 - February 21st, 2005, 12:54 pm Post #7 - February 21st, 2005, 12:54 pm
    By the way, I just ate my spinach and onion byrek/turnover/spanakopita/whatever from City Market. Tasty, no surprises except-- I noticed when I was buying it that there were purplish colors here and there on the dough, like if it had olives in it and they had baked and expressed some juice onto the dough. There are no olives but the pink-purple color stained both sides of the inside of the thing-- would they have sauteed the spinach in red wine vinegar? (Do Muslims use red wine vinegar in cooking? I've seen it in Turkish places, I guess.) Does baked spinach express a pinkish color I just never noticed before? Weird.[/i]
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  • Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 1:06 pm
    Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 1:06 pm Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 1:06 pm
    Mike -

    Thanks for bringing it up, since I wanted to post about the spinach pie; I thought it was the best one of that type I've ever had [much better than the ones from the Middle Eastern Bakery at Foster & Clark]. I'm 99% sure that the pinkish/purple stuff was sumac; whether part of a zatar mix or not I couldn't say, since I didn't taste any other herbs but my sense of smell is cattywompus. Sumac would account for the color and the sour taste [which I really enjoyed]. Thought the pastry part reheated wonderfully.
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 1:09 pm
    Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 1:09 pm Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 1:09 pm
    I just assumed spinach accounted for the sour taste but sumac certainly seems a likely bet, I guess it dyed the moisture coming from the spinach. Judging by the way they were just sitting there for offer on a pizza box, I suspect this is the rare occasion that we actually did have something "home made."
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  • Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 11:03 pm
    Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 11:03 pm Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 11:03 pm
    Great food, great company, an excellent way to spend a Saturday (and a bit of Sunday).

    I do feel the need to point out, however, that Vito and Nick's was not the final stop in the Mike G Short Notice-A-Thon, the Skylark (Cermak and Halsted) was. Somehow, we even managed to further extend our gastronomic excesses, with Tater Tots and "Bloody Mary" Onion Rings (both of which were quite good, BTW).

    But tater tots and onion rings (with a trio of sauces) weren't the end of the food either. Round about midnight we were feeling a bit peckish and broke out the falafel, lamb and onion stuffed falafel, marinated olives, and bread I bought earlier at City Market. Everything was good but the stuffed falafel was the biggest hit.

    Sabas Vega was a little greasier, Uruapan probably slightly the best overall and it had the added benefit of a cactus side dish or topping-- fried nopales strips with crumbled cheese-- that was really good, sort of like a Greek salad.

    My favorite pig meat (as opposed to skin, fat, ears, etc) was probably that at Sabas Vega but have to say Uruapan was the best overall. If I liked their salsa (only a single version is available) a little more, Uruapan would be the clear winner. Their nopales and pork ribs were exceedingly good. Even though Don Pedro wasn't my favorite, it was pretty damn good.

    It might be worth mentioning that Sabas Vega was the least crowded, so it should be possible to get a table. Both Don Pedro and Uruapan were packed so getting seated would be a challenge on Saturday morning.

    That's pretty much us, right there, trying to find the place after ReneG, of all people, got confused about his South Side directions.

    Not much of an excuse, I know, but I had a clear (and incorrect) mental picture of the two Indians standing at the corner of Archer & California. Unfortunately that's where Falco's Pizza is, not Apache Grill.

    Though the most common purchase of the day turned out to be Old Krupnik, a Polish Barenjaeger wannabe for $9.99 a bottle. Cheap honey liqueur? We'll see if that was a bad idea.

    Now you can all duplicate the Busy Bee Stinger: Brandy and white creme de menthe with just a dash of Krupnik for 'the taste of honey.' Does anyone remember these from the late, lamented Busy Bee?

    One unfortunate note is that Zacatacos kind of got hostile when Gary tried to take a picture-- maybe just because they were super busy on a Saturday night (I'd bet people have been killed over parking spaces at this place, it was a mob scene). Hopefully Gary will post the sketch I drew of his encounter... However, I thought the carne asada was pretty decent (Rene says the other outlet, a little further north, is better; it might also be better sometime other than Saturday night) and I liked the pastor, complete with pineapple on the cone, a lot.

    A couple days earlier I got in trouble at the other Zacatacos for trying to take a picture of my milanesa being fried. I guess they just don't like cameras. I think I can say Zacatacos is well above average. Whether it's as good as I thought I'm not sure yet (this was my first visit to the 71st Street location). Sure is a popular spot though.

    Finally, beer and pizza and slow service at a packed Vito & Nick's. Best pizza in Chicago?

    This wasn't Vito & Nick's at their best but I thought it was pretty good. I don't remember ever seeing a pizza there that was so unevenly cooked. Usually the cheese is a uniform golden brown. It was very interesting talking with the kitchen crew afterwards. There's a real art to applying the sausage that I never appreciated. Maybe Gary has a picture that shows this.

    Thanks for bringing it up, since I wanted to post about the spinach pie; I thought it was the best one of that type I've ever had [much better than the ones from the Middle Eastern Bakery at Foster & Clark]. I'm 99% sure that the pinkish/purple stuff was sumac. . .

    I wish I'd bought some of those; don't know why I didn't. I agree about the sumac. Another really good version (with sumac) can be had at Olive Mount Market at 3536 W 63rd St. I'm pretty sure I remember them telling me they make them at the store.
  • Post #11 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:09 pm
    Post #11 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:09 pm Post #11 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:09 pm
    Although I arrived extra late, I still felt like I had a full day. So kudos to everyone who hung in for the long haul. Just a couple of notes.

    Pigmon and I did go to Traverso's thinking that we might meet up with everyone. They didn't open until four, but when we got there around 3:45-ish the parking lot was already filling up with people waiting for it to open. A good sign. Although we didn't order any, the pizza we saw coming out of the kitchen did look good.

    Vito and Nick's Pizza was good, but not great. Although, for me it hit the spot that night.

    Image

    At the Skylark, we indulged ourselves further with tater tots and onion rings. The tator tots were, as they always are, a tasty-guilty pleasure.
    These particular tots were extra crisp.

    Image

    The Bloody Mary onion rings were well executed--crisp and light. But, I didn't really understand where the Bloody Mary piece fit in. I actually didn't like the way they tasted, but I think I was in the minority.

    Image

    They also had pork stuffed hot wings on the menu, which I thought sounded good. Next time.

    The best thing that I ate all day was ReneG's lamb falafel. Not only was it perfect at room temperature, but it was an unexpected treasure at that point of the night. Thanks ReneG!

    And because I couldn't make the Carnitas-fest, Pigmon and I went over to Uruapan on Monday to sample what I missed. Our waitress chuckled when we inquired about the Nopales salad--and told us that she never has any left so late in the day (3pm). The carnitas tasted good, but we could tell that they had been hanging out under the heat lamps for a while. I also prefer to eat carnitas with salsa verde and/or lime, as opposed to the pico de gallo-ish salsa that is offered. Pigmon noted that there was something extra special about eating carnitas out of the back of a pickup truck--and thought that may have added to the enjoyment factor on Saturday. Since we were enroute to Lao Sze Schwan, we decided to skip sampling one of the incredible looking chicharron.
    Image

    Cheers,

    trixie-pea :D
  • Post #12 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:17 pm
    Post #12 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:17 pm Post #12 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:17 pm
    I don't think I would go to Vito & Nick's on Saturday night again-- they were packed. It took forever to get the pizzas, as Rene noted at least one was unevenly cooked (which I take to mean they failed to turn it around in the oven like you're supposed to), and one might have been a little underdone or something, as it was eventually kind of wet on the bottom (like it was steaming itself on the tray).

    Now, don't get me wrong here. We sucked it down amazingly fast for people who had had 27 meals already that day. But there were signs that the kitchen was stretched, no question, and the product was not quite as good as it has been, which merely meant it was one of the better pizzas in town that night, not the best.
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  • Post #13 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:27 pm
    Post #13 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:27 pm Post #13 - February 22nd, 2005, 5:27 pm
    Mike G wrote:I don't think I would go to Vito & Nick's on Saturday night again-- they were packed. It took forever to get the pizzas, as Rene noted at least one was unevenly cooked (which I take to mean they failed to turn it around in the oven like you're supposed to), and one might have been a little underdone or something, as it was eventually kind of wet on the bottom (like it was steaming itself on the tray).

    Now, don't get me wrong here. We sucked it down amazingly fast for people who had had 27 meals already that day. But there were signs that the kitchen was stretched, no question, and the product was not quite as good as it has been, which merely meant it was one of the better pizzas in town that night, not the best.


    Mike, have you been to Vito and Nick's besides Saturday? The time I went, with you, was a Saturday, and I was certainly not blown away by the pizza that day. I guess I should try, some time, Vito and Nicks on another day of the week if there seems to be a strong correlation between Saturdays and their pizzas.

    Rob
  • Post #14 - February 26th, 2005, 11:34 am
    Post #14 - February 26th, 2005, 11:34 am Post #14 - February 26th, 2005, 11:34 am
    You weren't impressed that time, but everyone else was, I think. The difference is that the place was 3/4 empty at 3 pm or whatever it was, but wall to wall at 7 pm.

    By the way, since Gary wasn't allowed to take pics at Zacataco, here's my reconstruction of our experience there, drawn at Vito & Nick's shortly after:

    Image
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  • Post #15 - February 26th, 2005, 11:45 am
    Post #15 - February 26th, 2005, 11:45 am Post #15 - February 26th, 2005, 11:45 am
    I think you may have exagerated slightly. I don't remember the owner wearing a hat. :lol: :twisted: :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - February 26th, 2005, 12:06 pm
    Post #16 - February 26th, 2005, 12:06 pm Post #16 - February 26th, 2005, 12:06 pm
    Hi,

    I drove down to Bridgeport to finally buy a dozen Bacon Buns, which I ordered yesterday. I had contemplated having breakfast at the Seven Wives in Chinatown. Until I remembered those divine Brain Tacos Rich4 bought fresh off the grease last week.

    Yep, I supped on the breakfast of champions: a bacon bun on the ride over, three brain tacos with a champurrado to wash it down!

    Image

    Crunchy, deep fried tortilla and the soft flavorful interior reminded me of Jack-in-the-Box tacos. I've had brain tacos a number of times, these were the best of all. They had tremendous flavor, a nice spice kick and none of the funky taste and texture one sometimes encounters with brain tacos. The cost? 5 brain tacos were $2 total, my champurrado was $1.50 and the bacon bun 66 cents.

    FYI from Highland Park to all my stops and back: 90 minutes.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #17 - February 9th, 2009, 9:40 am
    Post #17 - February 9th, 2009, 9:40 am Post #17 - February 9th, 2009, 9:40 am
    It's funny this came up: during our trip to Chinatown, Sparky's buddy tried to gross us out by relating the most disgusting thing his mom had ever eaten: cow brains. Without batting an eye, I said, "I love cow brains! I've even eaten cow eyeballs!" Then I ordered chicken feet and duck soup for lunch, cementing my place as the world's weirdest eater in this child's hierarchy.

    Little does he know.

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