Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter

May 15, 2012 and May 23, 2012
100 E. Walton St., Chicago, IL 60611
Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
This place is exceptional and reminds me of cafes and bakeries in Europe.  It is definitely on-of-a-kind and I haven't found anything that comes close to it in Chicago.  They bake all their breads in shop and early every morning... from croissants to their famous Belgian Loaves... all i can only say is WOW and this is a must visit!  Only reason why I didn't give it the label of "5 miles" was because of the limited seating options and the unfortunate visits when they ran out of everything (even in the morning).

What I ate:

My first bag of their Macarons!

Left to Right:  Pistachio, Lemon, Mocha, Raspberry
WOW!  They have huge macarons and are not sacrificing anything when making them.  I couldn't believe the flavors that came threw.  I went ahead and purchased a couple of each flavor (mocha (brown), pistachio (green), raspberry (pink), and lemon (yellow)).  Biting into the first macaron I was amazed.  I tried the lemon... and the flavor was absolutely bright and refreshing... I haven't had macarons this good since I was in Paris.  The pistachio reminds me of some of the best pistachio gelato in Europe and the mocha has a slight chocolate flavor.  They were slightly chilled and the filling was extremely rich--reminding almost of a thick ice cream.  The outer component had a little crisp to it and the centers were super soft.  The owners asked me if I had ever tried their macarons before and I told them this was my first time.  They were curious what people thought... and I have heard nothing short of phenomenal.  And I 100% agree... I am now addicted to these macarons and will be taking a weekly trip back to this bakery for this special treat.

Black Cherry Croissant

Recommended by one of the owners... this croissant is amazing for people that love fruits.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but biting into the freshly baked croissant to find a filling of black cherries in the middle was awesome.  The croissant was flaky and there was quite of few cherries in the middle of my croissant. They do sit out on an open area for most of the day, so if you come later in the afternoon, they will either be sold out or not as flaky.  I recommend coming early!

Goat Cheese, Pistachio, Honey, Olive Oil, and Thyme Sandwich

After seeing this sandwich on their menu, I was excited because all those ingredients are some of my favorite.  They had other options like Curry chicken salad but in the end, I stuck with this sandwich and I couldn't have been happier!  The goat cheese was laid on thick and drizzled with a very sweet honey and a nice olive oils.  The fresh thyme could really be tasted and the pistachios gave the sandwich the much needed textural element--a crunch!  It was served on slices of their famous Belgian bread which had an extremely soft center and a drier crust.  The edges were chewier so I suggest eating those parts first.  It definitely filled me up!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Get their early for the best options... and definitely the freshest!
- ORDER MACARONS!  If you don't, you will be missing out of a wonderful and tasty experience!
- If you want to try multiple options, make sure to get their 1/2 soup and 1/2 sandwich combo... eating a full goat cheese sandwich is a rich meal, so having half with their homemade soup is a great option!

- Don't expect to always get a seat in this small bakery... you might just have to take it "to go."
- Don't drive... parking on Walton is next to impossible.
- Don't miss the store... it is tucked away on an "above-street" level... you have to walk up a small set of stairs (look for a big silver handrail).

How far would I walk for this food?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Harold's Chicken Shack #62

(January 12, 2011)
636 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60605
Harold's Chicken Shack #62 (Wabash) on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
Harold's Chicken is a place to get fried chicken and fried fish dinners.  They are extremely reasonably priced which is hard to find in the city! Yes you can probably drive to the south side or the suburbs and find better fried chicken... but for $6 with all the sides... it really can't be beat.  You may have to wait a bit, which is a bummer... but at least the chicken is served piping hot.
Disclaimer: I am a huge sucker for cheap eats that taste amazing so this rating may be a little inflated.

What I Ate:
Chicken Wings

First of all look at that amazing color... you know they covered it in their Hot Sauce which is my favorite style from Harold's.  This meal comes with 4 chicken wings (drummette and wing = 1 "wing").  It is piled on top of a couple pieces of white bread, freshly fried french fries, and a side of coleslaw.  The hot sauce isn't too spicy and it has a nice tanginess to it, which I really enjoy.  I always ask for extras because I love dipping the fries into the hot sauce!

Fried Catfish Dinner

This dinner came with three large catfish fillets deep fried and covered with hot sauce. It also came with fries and bread equally covered in amazing hot sauce and a side of coleslaw. The fish was extremely crispy and had plenty of meat to it.  The ends were a little on the burnt side which gave a nice crunch that I enjoyed.  I made small fish sandwiches with the bread and put some of the fries and extra hot sauce in it!  I do wish they gave extra slaw!

The DOs/DON'Ts

- So the restaurant is structured weird... go up to the counter and order your meal and drink... grab your drink from the fridge and have a seat... they will call out your order!  You don't need to stand around and wait.
- Check Groupon for Now Deals!... Every time I go they usually have some kind of deal.  I think mine was $4 for $8... so the catfish dinner came out to 28 cents at the restaurant or $4.28 total.
- Have some patience!  They cook everything fresh so it make take a little time!  Don't be pacing back and forth or keep bugging them about your food.  They didn't forget... its just being made fresh!

- I don't like the mild sauce at all... It is more of a BBQ sauce and it just isn't as palatable as the hot sauce.

How far would I walk for this food?

Harold's Chicken Shacks on Urbanspoon Harold's Chicken Shack #36 on Urbanspoon Harold's Chicken Shack on Urbanspoon

Sabor Express

(December 7, 2011 & April 8, 2012)
1230 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607
Sabor Express on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:

This place is a great find for meat eaters!  Everyone knows about those all-you-can-eat Brazilian steak houses which I do love myself, but they are expensive.  Sabor Express is a great place to get the Brazillian food fix without spending too much money.  It is a casual place... but unlike their motto "Fast, Casual Brazilian Food"... it is not as fast as you think.  In fact, I dislike having to wait this long for claimed "fast food."

What I Ate:


Tear dropped shaped fried pastry filled with shredded chicken and various spices! It has a dough consistency inside as if it wasn't cooked through... But I found it that is the consistency they want.  This is definitely my favorite appetizer and if you want, ask them for a side of their chimichurri or salsa and you can almost make 2 or 3 of them a meal!

The Bahia Hot Dog

Best value for sure at sabor express! For $5 you get a loaded hot dog and fries! It was an all beef hot dog piled with garlic mashed potatoes, spicy chili, cheddar cheese, chopped onions, peppers, chipotle mayo, and a chimichurri sauce. Unbelievable combinations! And you can make your own!  They have a huge list of toppings that include potato straws, hot peppers, avocado, and basically anything you can imagine... and I think you can put as many as you want! or around 7 which is a good number! (I apologize for the fuzzy picture)

Picanha Sandwich

This was pretty good... The brazilian spices really shined in this sandwich!  but for me, it was a little oily and on the smaller side. and the steak was a little chewy (steak, egg, lettuce, cheese).  They do have other combinations that remove the egg... and instead replace it with either avocado or mango or pineapple.

Cheese Pasties

The cheese pasties were nothing but a fried dough shell filled with some random cheese... maybe mozzarella.  It wasn't anything special and the only way I enjoyed it was with that incredible salsa... It had a nice heat to it!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Order pick up at least 20 minutes early.  They say on the phone 10 to 15 minutes but every time I get there around the 15 minute mark I still have to wait 5 or sometimes 10 more minutes.  It is a little disappointing, but the food is made fresh for the most part so its worth it.

- Don't order the a la carte meat options... I found each of them to be overly spiced and dry. I would stick with the Brazilian hot dogs and the sandwiches!

How far would I walk for this place?

Pizzeria Via Stato

(January 5, 2012)
620 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60654
Pizzeria Via Stato on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:

So I have been here a couple times... unfortunately I didn't take picture of all the food.  Anyway, if you are looking for different kind of pizza, more authentic neapolitan style pizza, then this is a good place to try.  They have interesting combinations as you will see below...  Unfortunately I am in love with Chicago Style Deep Dish and you will definitely not find that here.  But for great combinations and toppings.... its is definitely a place to try!

What I Ate:

Goat Sausage and Goat Cheese Pizza

Id like to start off saying the crust is extremely thin... almost too thin.  It crisps up to a chip-like consistency and is way different from Chicago style pizza.  The toppings were amazing though!  The sausage was very pronounced and definitely wasn't overshadowed by the cheese.  The goat cheese, as most goat cheeses I've tried, has a tangy taste to it.  That nice little bite is the part I enjoyed the most!  I do wish there was a little green on it, but it was the special so I didn't want to request additional ingredients.

Margarita Pizza (Not Pictured)

The classic italian style pizza!  With a similar crust, this is simply topped with a little tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil.  Nothing more but nothing is really needed.  I do wish the crust again was thicker even for Neapolitan style it was extremely thin.  The edges curled up and burnt a little bit.  Sorry for no picture!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- I would definitely come here if you are not trying to get extremely stuffed.  It is a decent amount of food but its nothing like normal chicago pizza places.  The toppings are delicious and I guess not being overly full is a good feeling sometimes!
- Do bring the credit card!  The pizzas are around $12 - $15 a piece and each person needs one for themselves... so its a little pricey!

- Don't be shy... ask for more bread and oil!  The bread is amazing here.  Freshly baked and sliced right before its brought to your table.  I was hooked and it filled me up for sure!

How far would I walk for this food?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Carnitas Uruapan

(November 22, 2011)
1725 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL 60608
Carnitas Uruapan on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
Without question, the best and most authentic carnitas in Chicago!  How can you beat a place that showcases the pig in their window and offers a small sampling right when you walk in.  With all that said, I do wish the menu was more extensive... but I guess being the BEST at one item is better than being good at a few.

What I ate:

Carnitas Mixtas

So carnitas mixtas is my favorite of the two options.  They both come with plenty of the well seasoned pork shoulder.  But the mixtas plate includes a few pieces of pork cheek, pork ear, and pork stomach.  Each of them have different textures, from gelatinous to chewy, that I think gives each of my made tacos a little more character.  Also, the give a more natural, deep flavor that you miss out on when you order just the regular plate.  They give you fresh corn tortillas (around a dozen) and then a couple salsas (seen in next picture) and also pickled jalapeños and carrots.  Make a little taco and add the different salsas and a jalapeño and you are in heaven!


This is the regular carnitas... without the extras.  So its just a plate of wonderful pork shoulder that is well seasoned. As mentioned in previous description, just make a taco and ENJOY!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- So when you get to this place, you order by the pound.  1 lb. feeds two people (5-6 small tacos per person since they give i believe a dozen corn tortillas).  I would start with 1 lb. and if you are still hungry then order more... the pork isn't going to run away so no worries.
- Do buy some of their fresh chicharones... if you are lucky they might give you a small sample!
- If you want a drink... just go to the fridge and grab it yourself and the bottle opener is attached to the table near the fridge... don't expect 5 star service here!

- Don't ask for a menu or what else they have.  Honestly you need to order one dish, and that is the carnitas. Decided whether you want mixtas or not and how many pounds and you are good to go.  The price ranges a little but I find everyone can eat for around $8 a person.

How far would I walk for this food?

Caponies Express Food Truck

(December 6, 2011)
Food Truck... follow them on Twitter:  @CaponiesExp
Caponies Trattoria on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:

Another one of Chicago's Food Trucks.  When I found them, they were over at the UIC area which was convenient for me.  They serve solid Italian food ranging from pizzas to calzones and surprisingly arancini!  Overall it was too greasy for me... but the flavors were definitely there.  I wouldn't be running to this food truck anytime soon.  I also did find that they weren't as friendly as the other trucks I have encountered and therefore I gave them a lower rating.  And I know its kind of random and maybe not important... but their generator is way to noisy.

What I Ate:


A rice ball stuffed with ground beef, marinara, mozzarella cheese, and peas...then it's covered with bread crumbs and deep fried.  This is one of the better items on their menu!  I was surprised a food truck would carry them especially because you want the outside to remain crisp.  It was as crispy as it could be for being wrapped in foil for couple hours... but it was too oily for my liking. But definitely worth trying if you have never had an aracini.


This was a huge panzarotti with tons of mozzarella cheese and a tangy tomato sauce. It is extremely filling but I don't know if that is from eating too much grease or it actually being a big meal. I did wish they had the vegetable panzarotti when I was at the truck. I also wished the crust was not as thick as they made it.  Its almost too doughy and not enough crispy to it.

The DOs/DON'Ts

- Follow them on Twitter if you are looking to try this truck.  @CaponiesExp

- Don't be running to try this place... its ok but nothing special.
- Don't be coming here if you are on a diet or trying to cut back on cholesterol (like I should be).  It doesn't serve those people to well.

How far would I walk for this food?

Hoosier Mama Pie Company

(December 10, 2011)
1618 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Hoosier Mama Pie Company on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:

If you are looking for a great place in the city for pie... definitely come here!  They have minimum six or so pies each day and the menu keeps changing.  They always have a few stable items (fat elvis, apple pie) but I like how they keep alternating flavors.  I do wish the place was a little bigger.  If you want to eat your pie at the store, cross your fingers that one of their three or four small tables is open.

What I ate:

The Fat Elvis

If you have ever heard of Elvis's favorite sandwich... this has to be Elvis's favorite pie.  It is a chocolate based pie topped with a peanut butter mousse, sliced bananas, and crushed pretzels!  It is probably one of the richest pies I have ever eaten and I advise not eating the entire slice in one sitting.  I did that and stomach doesn't feel to well after.  But honestly, it is next to impossible to stop eating the pie!

Apple Pie

Good old fashion apple pie.  The apples were on the crunchier side so had more of a crisp than the normal mush that I was used to.  And the crust was extremely flaky.  You could tell this was more "high class" than your normal apple pies.  I liked the crunchier apple but my friends that tried it weren't the biggest fans.  I guess its all personal preference.

Honey Apple Currant Pie

The only reason I bought this slice was because they were handing out free samples of the pie.  And once biting into it I had to grab a slice. It was a nice spin on their normal apple pie.  Adding the currants gave the pie a nice contrast... it made it almost less sweet without taking away too much of the sugary goodness.  Currants in general have a sweet and tannin undertone so it was a great add to the pie!

The DOs/DON'Ts

- Make sure to ask which pies they sell mini pies for!  Sometimes it seemed to be a little cheaper to purchase the mini pie than two or three slices of a same pie.
- Do understand that the prices are a little high.  Paying $5 or so for a piece of pie may seem pricey, but trust me, it is worth it!

- Don't expect to get a sit inside their little store front.  They have like three tables I think.
- Don't order your pies too late for Thanksgiving... They stop selling a week before sometimes depending on how popular they are that year.

How far would I walk for this place?

Schnitzel King Food Truck

(December 7, 2011 and multiple times after!)
Food Truck so follow them on Twitter:  @KingSchnitzel
Schnitzel King Food Truck on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
Chicago's Schnitzel King is a great food truck to stop by for a bite to eat.  They may have one of the coolest looking trucks and they also make some killer schnitzel.   One problem is the soggy aspect of both the bread and the schnitzel itself.  But it is difficult to complain when they can't cook on their trucks and they bring you the food.  I enjoy this truck so definitely try to hunt down this food truck on your lunch break!

What I Ate:

Weiner Schnitzel Sandwich

The schnitzel with peppers and onions was delicious!! The key was adding their homemade brown spicy mustard.  It gave it that nice little bite that you are looking for in a sandwich.  The schnitzel was a soggy because of being wrapped which made it a little less pleasing to eat. I do wish it was a little bigger so I didn't need an extra sides to be full... but they do make good potato salad and the little cup of it definitely breaks up the meal.  

Egg Weiner Schnitzel Sandwich

This schnitzel is topped with some well spiced eggs and the typical schnitzel.  Once again the key to making this sandwich was one of their homemade condiments... This time it was a horseradish whip.  It was heavy on the horseradish so make sure you like it before you cover your sandwich in it... I wish I had another one to be honest. Good job guys!

Beef Jerky

That beef jerky is incrediblel! Nice deep pepper flavor throughout. And it was tender yet jerky still.... And if that wasnt enough... Just look at the slab of meat. Nice thick cut! People were wondering is that brisket and when I said jerky, they all wanted to get some too!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Follow them on Twitter... it is the best way to find their truck.  @KingSchnitzel
- Make sure you ask them for some of their condiments! The sandwiches and your appetite will thank you!

- Don't forget to ask if they have jerky on board... its a special so they may run out.

How far would I walk for this food?

Saturday, May 5, 2012


(November 19, 2011)
1519 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607
Jubrano's on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
An amazing burger & gyro joint in the middle of Taylor St. (Chicago's Little Italy).  And honestly they have one item on the menu that is simply the best!  The Gyro Double Cheeseburger!  Whenever you go here.. order this PLEASE!  I have been here multiple times and I get it every time!  The only problem with this place is the hit or miss on the other items.  Sorry but I forgot to take pictures of some of their wraps... I wouldn't really order them except for the Jalapeño Chicken one.

What I Ate:

Gyro Double Cheeseburger and Fries

All I can say is UNREAL!  This double cheeseburger is made to order... They grill the patties to a nice little char crust and somehow it remains extremely juicy!  Then they add a slice of cheddar cheese between the patties and begin to assemble the burger!  They toast the buns on the grill also and then the put lettuce, tomato, and onion.  If that wasn't enough, they top it off with a HANDFUL OF GYRO MEAT!! And a nice helping of tzatziki sauce.  You have to try it!  And also their french fries are some of the best because they are thick cut and freshly fried to order... none of that sitting on the side getting cold stuff like other restaurants do. And get the cheese but get it on the side though.  Fresh food tastes so much better!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Do bring cash... their credit card machine seems to be down frequently and you don't want to pay that extra fee for the ATM.
- If you are in a rush, do call ahead and have them start cooking the food.  Since its made fresh it takes a little time.

- Honestly, DON'T order anything else besides the Gyro Double Cheeseburger... and yes get the double!
- Also like all other Little Italy posts... don't forget to pay for parking... If you are lucky, park in front of Pompeii because they have a 20 minute flashing zone which is plenty of time!

How far would I walk for this food?

Taj Mahal Fast Foods

(November 29, 2011)
1512 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607
Taj Mahal Fast Foods on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
A surprising find in the middle of Little Italy... Taj Mahal is a small Indian restaurant that serves pretty good Indian food.  In fact, whenever I need an Indian fix... I come here because Devon is too far away and the other places in the city are just too expensive.  The food tends to be fairly oily and it seems like they give a lot of sauce with little chicken/paneer/whatever you order...  But it still does the trick.  I haven't really eaten at the restaurant... I always order out mainly because of the not very friendly feelings I get when I enter the place.  My review may be a little biased but that is why I rated it lower than usual.

What We Ate:


The samosa was nothing special... but it wasn't bad.  It was typical samosa... Potatoes were the main filling and they had all the indian spices.  It was unfortunately a little bland and the chutneys that came along were artificial looking so I tried to stay away from using them.  The shell was extremely crispy and it was really hot!  

Paneer Butter Masala

The vegetarian version of Butter Chicken... instead, it has the indian cheese - Paneer!  I tend to eat vegetarian Indian food because of all my friends and I usually like it much better.  They gave a descent amount of paneer but they can never give enough... As you can see from what is left over, the paneer to gravy ratio is heavily skewed towards the gravy.  Use white rice with that gravy and wow that's delicious!  I could put this sauce on just about anything!

Palak (Saag) Paneer

Another vegetarian option.  This dish is a spinach based dish with lots of ghee (butter) and once again paneer!  The flavors were amazing--heavy spinach flavoring.  The paneer was not too dense but once again they didn't give enough.  So we had a lot of left over spinach, which is OK when you have extra white rice!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Order take out and go across the street and get white rice from one of the many Thai restaurants on Taylor Street.  The sticky rice is so much better with the gravies from the Indian entrees!

- I wouldn't really order the samosas... I know everyone wants them, and I always do to, but there is nothing special and the chutneys just aren't the usual.

How far would I walk for this food?

Conte di Savoia

(November 27, 2011)
1438 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607
Conte di Savoia on Urbanspoon

A Quick Word:
Conte di Savoia is a great sub shop in Little Italy!  They make all their subs fresh to order and they are decent sized (6 inch or 8 inch) depending on how hungry you are. The price is a little bit more expensive than the other sub shops around chicago (which I will post later on).  But if you want a fresh italian type sub.. this is a good option.

What I Ate:

Italian Sub

Ham, salami, cappocollo, and provolone cheese make up the inside of this sub!  And you can have additional toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, and a red vinaigrette for no extra cost.  I like to add hot giardinera... but these peppers cost a little extra but is well worth it!  The meat is definitely fresh (cut when you order) and the bread has a nice chewiness to it... and its not too tough!  I do wish the ham was an italian ham and not just an American type ham... And also, they don't stack the meat on like other sub shops... just pointing it out!

Pastrami Sub

The pastrami was not as good as I was hoping for.  The meat was definitely fresh and the lettuce, tomato, etc was also delicious on the sub.  It gave a nice crisp texture to the sub and with mustard and the vinaigrette there was even more flavor.  I would stick to the italian sub though!

The DOs/DON'Ts:

- Always check Groupon Now for a deal to this place... whenever I want to eat here there seems to always be a groupon offer which definitely helps the budget!
- Do order the 8 inch sub... the 6 inch one isn't that filling!
- Come for lunch!  They have a sub, chips, drink combo for I believe $4.50 which is extremely cheap... Definitely worth it at that price!

- Don't forget to add the hot giardinera... it definitely makes the sub that much better!
- Don't forget to FEED THE METER!... lots of cops on Taylor St. and you don't want a parking ticket!

How far would I walk for this food?