Bienvenidos a el Barrio

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Calling all Top Chef addicts! Another Top Chef contestant has opened a restaurant in Chicago and it did not let us down. Barrio is the new concept between DineAmic Group (think Siena Taven, Bull & Bear, Bar Siena) and Chef Katsuji Tanabe. Katsuji’s character and charisma comes through in many ways throughout the restaurant but especially in the cocktails’ names.

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For our first round of drinks Edwin had the Hot Mezz (left) and I ordered the Pantera Rosa (right). Mine was a house-made cucumber infused vodka with watermelon and lime. Our wonderful waitress described it as light and refreshing and it truly did just that. Now for my mezcal-loving husband, the Hot Mezz brought the smoky flavor along with watermelon, jalapeño, lime, and sage.

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The plates at Barrio are meant to be shared similar to tapas. For our first course we ordered the lump crab guacamole and the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp cocktail ended up being one of our favorite things. The crab was sweet, didn’t smell fishy, and paired nicely with the other ingredients. The grapefruit brought sourness, the jicama crunch, and the serrano the perfect amount of spice. Now the shrimp cocktail ended up being our least favorite item. The roasted tomato-habanero sauce and spicy mustard left much to be desired in terms of taste.

 

 

For our second course, we ordered the forrest mushroom tacos and the chopped salad. The tacos were, in my opinion, the best item we had. You got a slight hint of earthiness from the mushrooms and truffle oil that paired beautifully with the juice from the lime and that homemade tortilla just rounded things out. Our waitress told us that these tacos were an unspoken favorite of the staff and I can totally see why!

The chopped salad was also very tasty. The avocado brought creaminess to the plate while the corn and radishes brought sweetness and crunch.

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Yes, I loved this taco so much it deserves 2 photos!

For our main course, like we didn’t have enough lol, we ordered the tamarind beef short rib with a side of esquites-style corn. The short ribs were falling off the bone from how tender they were! The grits under the short rib were a perfect compliment to balance out the overall taste. These might not be the corn off the corner street vendor but the flavor was definitely something to brag about. The quest fresco paired with the epazote gave this corn its own unique flavor profile which I appreciated.

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To round off our meal, we each ordered a last drink and the tres leches dessert. I ordered the Ring around the Rosé which was refreshing without being overly sweet. I enjoyed having the paleta and allowing it to slowing mix into the rosé. Edwin ordered the Smoke Show once again picking a mezcal drink.

Now, as some of y’all may or might not know, I am a chocoholic! I will always have room for something chocolatey in my life. This time I shocked Edwin when I told him to pick the dessert as I wasn’t feeling the cocoa taco. He decided on the tres leches dessert and I was so surprised with how much I liked it. The cake was moist, the caramel and strawberries brought some sweetness and freshness, and that almond crisp/almond crumb brought the perfect crunch to round out the dessert.

On a side note, while we were there we wanted to see Chef Katsuji but unfortunately he left that day to Cali. Don’t worry, we messaged him on IG and promised him we’d be back when he was there 😉 Luckily, we happened to spot Chef Fabio Viviani, another Top Chef contestant, sitting next to us and I got my fan girl moment lol.

If you’re up for Mexican food with a pan-Latin influence, go check  Barrio out!

Gordo’s Ice Cream

 

I recently saw the most inviting paleta picture on Instagram and I knew I had to check it out. After some researching I came upon Gordo’s who has a location in Edgewater and had just open a second location in Printer’s Row – so close to home! I made Edwin promise to we’d go and we did just that today.

It’s located in a small street with accessible parking which makes it that much more inviting. There are also two other restaurants, Flaco’s Tacos and Hax: Hops and Burgers, which seem like a perfect date-night dinner and dessert idea.

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They have a variety of classic paletas, a create-your-own option, and various other treats. I’ll post the ice bars menu below:

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Our Experience

The lady working behind the counter today was super friendly and inviting! She went through their menu with us and even made some recommendations of “people favorites” which we really appreciated. Edwin decided to get the hibiscus tea palette with the dark chocolate dip and toasted almonds. I had the coffee paleta also with a dark chocolate dip and toasted almonds.

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If you’re looking for a different ice cream bar experience, go check Gordo’s out!

 

Delectable Mac-n-Cheese

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When the newly engaged best friend requests mac-n-cheese I make it and with the Fourth of July/summer parties in full swing I decided to share my recipe below. It took me a few tries to perfect my ingredients and toppings but I think I’ve finally found the perfect combo….

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Ingredients

Mac-N-Cheese

  • 16 ounces of cavatappi pasta (you can also use elbow macaroni)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard (optional)
  • 1 pound cheddar cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Panko Topping

Directions

  1. Place a heavy stockpot with water over medium-high heat until it bowls.
  2. Add oil
  3. Then cook the macaroni until very al dente. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
  4. In the same empty stockpot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture for a few minutes minutes while moving it constantly.
  5. Next, pour in the milk, add all of the seasonings, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes or until very thick. When ready, reduce the heat to low.
  6. Add in the cheese and stir to melt.
  7. Taste the sauce and add more seasonings as needed!
  8. Pour in the macaroni and stir to combine.
  9. Place the mac-n-cheese in your desired dish and top with the panko topping.
  10. If you’d like the reheat it and/or keep warm, place the oven-safe dish in a 325* F oven.

Finally, enjoy!

*Recipe used and/or adapted from: Ree Drummond’s Macaroni and Cheese

Mid-June Restaurant Recap

Dove’s Luncheonette

Dove's Luncheonette

Chicken Fried Chicken

Pozole Rojo

We decided to visit Dove’s Luncheonette for a spontaneous Saturday lunch. We’ve been to Big Start next door (get the Al Pastor Tacos) and always drive by Dove’s but after seeing it on a Food Network show we finally took the plunge and decided to visit. Edwin ordered the pozole rojo and I ordered the chicken fried chicken.

The pozole rojo came with all of the fixin’s including tostadas, cabbage, and radishes. Although we (because we all know I had to have a taste too 😉 ) enjoyed the flavor of the pozole we had to keep reminding our selves to not compare it to our Mexican mom’s pozole. All in all it was a good dish.

The chicken fried chicken came smothered in salsa verde with peas and pearl onions. I am a fan of onions so this dish is right up my ally. I do think a salad would have done well to counteract all of the richness of the dish. Definitely give it a try with a cazuela or beer.

Small Cheval

Small Cheval

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In an effort to burn calories 😉 Edwin and I decided to visit Small Cheval before a nice walk on The 606. I ordered the hamburger and Edwin the cheeseburger with two cokes because a coke and burger go together like PB&J. I love my cokes super chilled so when they handed us two cups full of ice, I knew this was the place for me. Given that they have a small menu, and being part of Au Cheval, I had high expectations for the burgers and they did not let me down. They were nice and juicy and the fries were SUPER crunchy. Don’t forget to get the garlic aioli from the condiments counter! Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, we would love to sit outside and I plan on ordering a shake for quality control :).

Scone City

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Our last stop on this tour of Bucktown/Wicker Park was a Sunday morning run to Scone City. I happened to see their pictures on Instagram and knew I had to visit. Edwin and I had to make very difficult decisions when trying to pick flavors. Some of their available flavor options were: brie honey and time, cinnamon chip, and maple bacon. Ultimately, I went for the Triple Chocolate (no surprise there! I’ll always get anything chocolate) and Edwin ordered the Blackberry and Orange Glaze. We enjoyed our scones with iced mochas and then went about the rest of our Sunday. You should definitely give Scone City a try if you’re in the neighborhood.

Pilsen Gems

On Saturdays, we usually head somewhere for lunch after Edwin comes home from work. Although we typically stick to a few favorites, this week we decided to stay local and visit a local family-owned restaurant and that’s how we came to ….

Diez y Ocho

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The restaurant is known for their burgers and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. I had the “turkeynator” burger on a rosemary ciabatta while my husband the “mafioso” burger. I ordered the natural cut fries with sea salt and Edwin ordered the cajun fries.

 

 

Chef Mike seemed very personable from what I could see while he was interacting with patrons at the bar. I overheard him say he was going to re-do the menu to include different burger ideas that he has created. Can’t wait to come back and see the new menu.

La Michoacana Premium

In order to get through the midweek slump, Edwin and I decided to visit one of our local ice cream shop – La Michoacana Premium. These ice cream shops are all over my parent’s state of Michoacan (hence the name) and have been popping up here in Chicago.

They have a variety of ice creams, popsicles, agues frescas, and other snacks. I ordered the piñon (pine nut) ice cream and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! I’d never even imagined pine nut ice cream but it was worth it. Edwin ordered the “esquimal” which is a vanilla popsicle covered in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut flakes.

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If you’re looking for some fun, tasty, and cold treat you should stop by La Michoacana (Blue Island Ave. and 18th Street).