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Citrine and evolving Oak Park scene

Citrine and evolving Oak Park scene
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  • Post #781 - March 4th, 2021, 8:22 pm
    Post #781 - March 4th, 2021, 8:22 pm Post #781 - March 4th, 2021, 8:22 pm
    Image

    I encourage you to (masked-)run not walk across Austin Blvd. to Chubby's Char House for one of the better Nashville hot chicken sandwiches I've had in the Land of Lincoln. Ordered hot, it delivers the kind of elevated Scovilles that get behind your eyeballs for hours. The rub is less sweet and garlicky than Base Hit on North Ave., which I also like but haven't had in a year, and the vibrant slaw is quite herbaceously interesting in its own right. Sharp pickles and fresh sliced jalapenos complete the punishingly crunchy picture. They also have a strong old-fries-style offering: specify "salted," please.

    On two visits they have not been taking advance phone orders, so it's an order-in, fresh air outside wait, retrieve-within type deal at the moment. They pride themselves on 30+ varieties of glass bottle sugar cane sodas and some good looking burgers as well, but I've so far just enjoyed the hot chicken, in the tenders basket and the sandwich. With increasingly improved options at McD, KFC, Popeyes, and the like, this is still the one I'm craving even at the justly higher price (I think $8, still much more of a value than the Budlong and various suburbancue places).

    Chubby's Char House
    5963 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60644
  • Post #782 - March 15th, 2021, 12:31 pm
    Post #782 - March 15th, 2021, 12:31 pm Post #782 - March 15th, 2021, 12:31 pm
    Beer Shop has completed their new parking lot shelter and, more importantly, expanded hours such that they are now open for lunch on the weekends. The Beer Shop lunch, where everyone gets to pick their own DTOP restaurant (this weekend: Katy's, Munch and Mickey's) and we meet at Beer Shop, is a very important part of life for us, so we are thrilled!
  • Post #783 - March 16th, 2021, 6:15 pm
    Post #783 - March 16th, 2021, 6:15 pm Post #783 - March 16th, 2021, 6:15 pm
    Good to hear, love (carrying out from) Beer Shop.

    Speaking of carrying out, Chubby's was excellent. Madison parking was surprisingly tough, though.
  • Post #784 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:11 pm
    Post #784 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:11 pm Post #784 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:11 pm
    One year of pandemic takeout Taco Tuesdays later, and here's the final ranking (top seven, all positive) from my family of four, which required some debate and consensus and does not necessarily reflect my sole opinion:

    1. Hecho en Oak Park
    2. Gringo & Blondie
    3. Tacabron
    4. Q-BBQ
    5. La Parrillita
    6. Mexican Republic (formerly Axcan)
    7. Taco Bros

    All were tried 3+ times (the top two many times more) and all really were at least passable, comforting in a town where the taco highs are best in breed and the lows are absolutely inedible.

    We also had Cactus Grill once (fine but higher pricepoint for the same items and not the offerings the kids want) and New Rebozo once for a special occasion (fiesta moles, ohmygod but does not a Taco Tuesday make). Maya del Sol is not open on Tuesdays (wtf). Amerikas was not open for dinners much of the year but has some of the best concepting and cooking around. I had previously written off (for good or ill) Ino's, Taco Tu, and Chirrion, and we skewed north towards Elmwood rather than south towards Berwyn because of family logistics as this was on a route to a recurring activity (but love me some Zacatacos and Lavergne's). Some tasting notes corresponding to the above:

    1. Hecho: best quality ingredients, homemade tortillas, and bar (michelada mix by the pint has been a lifesaver). Lentil soup which comes with half an avocado and a quesadilla is a steal of a decadent add-on. Best labeling (all tacos individually labeled). Best elotes on or off the cob. Asada is a nice steak and not leftover bargain bits.

    2. G&B: most creative / flavorful offerings including the Gringo (barbacoa and sharp pickled onion) and the Blondie (rajas with attitude), seamless curbside pickup, churros included, add-on Mexican chocolate ice cream when needed, family pack with big rice and beans trays offered value even when individual tacos are discounted Tuesdays. Included quesadillas offer sour cream and good pico for those that aren't cilantro y cebolla purists. Second-best asada, best al pastor. Cemitas!

    3. T-bron: best guac and salsas and cheapest margaritas is a nice combo, and the whole quesabirria trend breathed second life into this place. Theirs is one-note salty goat (taco and consome) without the herbal and tomato and caramelized crusts of the best offerings, but their corn tortillas are really nice for it and the salsas offset. Asada and elotes are unfortunately middling.

    4. Q: perhaps this is a surprising inclusion but their burnt end tacos are quite flavorful (smoked chicken tacos just fine too) and they offer elotes ("Mexican Corn"), a chimi-like pico, and a strong salad with Mexican flavors, plus some reasonable beers. Generous portions and their delivery when we needed it was consistently ahead of time and piping hot. Nice for a changeup.

    5. La Par: particularly enjoy their chorizo tacos and mango nachos. Asada better than Tacabron but other tacos not notable in our experience. Salsas are distinct and unique but not always delectable, more in the experimental realm. Tortillas are not as reliable as 1-3.

    6. MexRep: the value option - ridiculous portions on the fajitas or taco take-home kits (60% of the price of most others for the same amount of food), good bar, super staff. My daughter's favorite asada but more like a picadillo afterthought for me. For something different their fried appetizer combo offers good variety, and honestly reminds me of Carlos Murphy's of old, which I realize may not sound like a compliment.

    7. T-bros: most variable, but when on, really strong. Favorite rice and beans, wildly swinging asada and corn tortillas, solid chorizo torta, and good churros.

    In the Before Times I was a regular through La Lagartija, Antique Taco, and Carbón for commute takeout, and at their best the first two edge Hecho and G & B for the corresponding items at family-style scale, but it was impressive to me how the suburban competition has developed. We had Big Star and Dove's a few times through the One Off Supper Club, and while nice punctuations they didn't necessarily offer more satisfaction than a parcel of hyperlocal asada tacos and salsas.

    Plus Big Star's supper club packaging style revealed that their secret salsa of choice for the walking tacos is just Cholula (!), which I had not detected independently given their scratch salsa prevalence, and I have now been able to perfect a home version, though they are doing something with a lightly fermented flavor (lager?) in their beans I can't exactly replicate but that does not detract from the homemade whole.
  • Post #785 - March 24th, 2021, 8:44 am
    Post #785 - March 24th, 2021, 8:44 am Post #785 - March 24th, 2021, 8:44 am
    Gringo & Blondie's asada cemita has grown into one of my favorite things, but everything they do is great. The place is definitely my family's favorite of the bunch you listed, though Tacabron is always a safe choice, too. How would you rank the tacos at Pete's? They have a couple of trompos in action, but I don't know if I've ever actually had their al pastor.
  • Post #786 - March 24th, 2021, 8:56 am
    Post #786 - March 24th, 2021, 8:56 am Post #786 - March 24th, 2021, 8:56 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:Gringo & Blondie's asada cemita has grown into one of my favorite things, but everything they do is great. The place is definitely my family's favorite of the bunch you listed, though Tacabron is always a safe choice, too. How would you rank the tacos at Pete's? They have a couple of trompos in action, but I don't know if I've ever actually had their al pastor.


    We should definitely try to work Pete's into year two; I've had it only once lately but it used to be a regular snack after checkout. They use(d to at least) factory tortillas and re-griddle whatever had been held and I couldn't consistently convince them I wanted it right off the trompo, getting a response one time it wasn't allowed. I preferred the asada. Excellent salsas. Giant tacos, fresh cilantro, lots of food in the three-pack.
  • Post #787 - March 25th, 2021, 10:37 am
    Post #787 - March 25th, 2021, 10:37 am Post #787 - March 25th, 2021, 10:37 am
    OK, so one I didn't expect: per Downtown Oak Park, Marion Street is getting a Japanese ramen / omurice restaurant! Part of a Taiwanese chain, with a branch in Flushing, NY:

    Kyuramen
    https://www.kyuramen.com/

    I'd be perhaps even more excited if it was a Japanese chain, but I'm game and local ramen would be quite an add.
  • Post #788 - March 25th, 2021, 11:04 am
    Post #788 - March 25th, 2021, 11:04 am Post #788 - March 25th, 2021, 11:04 am
    tazerowe wrote:OK, so one I didn't expect: per Downtown Oak Park, Marion Street is getting a Japanese ramen / omurice restaurant! Part of a Taiwanese chain, with a branch in Flushing, NY:

    Kyuramen
    https://www.kyuramen.com/

    I'd be perhaps even more excited if it was a Japanese chain, but I'm game and local ramen would be quite an add.


    A Taiwanese chain of Japanese food isn't too farfetched. Taiwan was a former colony of Japan from 1895-1945. The Japanese were heavily involved with industrializing and modernizing the island and their influence is still felt in Taiwanese culture to this day.
  • Post #789 - April 12th, 2021, 5:39 am
    Post #789 - April 12th, 2021, 5:39 am Post #789 - April 12th, 2021, 5:39 am
    District Kitchen & Tap on Harrison is now closed. Sad, they had great pizzas and the people were always so nice.
    One of the employees said a taqueria will take its place.
  • Post #790 - April 12th, 2021, 10:31 am
    Post #790 - April 12th, 2021, 10:31 am Post #790 - April 12th, 2021, 10:31 am
    Ciro is coming! How exciting!
    On Pleasant by Carnivore and Serenitea
    Expected opening around August
    1048 Pleasant
    Chef Ciro Parlato has all the creds!
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/ciroparlato
    Cheers, Ciro!
  • Post #791 - April 12th, 2021, 10:45 am
    Post #791 - April 12th, 2021, 10:45 am Post #791 - April 12th, 2021, 10:45 am
    We received a reply from Victory Italian
    They will be open Thur Apr 15!
    Sign on door says they open 4pm

    https://www.oakpark.com/2021/04/13/vict ... -thursday/

    Victory Italian
    100 S Marion
    https://www.facebook.com/victoryItalian
  • Post #792 - April 16th, 2021, 2:00 pm
    Post #792 - April 16th, 2021, 2:00 pm Post #792 - April 16th, 2021, 2:00 pm
    This is an exceptionally sprawling and frustrating thread, a hodge-podge of restaurants that range from Oak Park to Forest Park to Chicago to Cicero to Berwyn and I'm probably missing one or two. Just 27 pages of try-and-find-it. Don't understand why Citrine and some of these other places don't have their own threads. This is like The Borg of all threads, assimilating restaurants and adding their distinctiveness to the collective. It is beyond being able to be taken apart. Disassembly is futile.
  • Post #793 - April 16th, 2021, 6:32 pm
    Post #793 - April 16th, 2021, 6:32 pm Post #793 - April 16th, 2021, 6:32 pm
    Vitesse98 wrote:How would you rank the tacos at Pete's? They have a couple of trompos in action, but I don't know if I've ever actually had their al pastor.


    I just ingested 2 steak tacos from Pete's.
    The steak was edible, though it was the worst part of the tacos. The factory tortillas, cilantro and onion were all better than the steak. It was dry, reheated, tiny dice, but edible. If their green avocado salsa wasn't almost amazing as Chapparita's, then those tacos would have wound up in the trash. I'm sure if any of the other meats are actually fresh, and you like a damn fine fiery salsa, you'll be in business over there.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #794 - May 9th, 2021, 10:39 am
    Post #794 - May 9th, 2021, 10:39 am Post #794 - May 9th, 2021, 10:39 am
    Rustico update.
    The joint was hopping when we got there at 8:15 on a Saturday night. Since this was our first time, I don't know what their capacity is in normal times, but it looked about 80% of whatever that might be.
    But I digest, I mean digress. The Plato Rustico was huge for two people, we brought about half home. My wife enjoyed the apple salad and my beet carpaccio with seared scallops was very good. We both went with lamb as an entree, her the shank which she loved and the chops for me. I thought that the use of lemon was really heavy handed.
    Overall though, we enjoyed the dinner and will go back because there is a lot on the menu that we want to try.
  • Post #795 - May 14th, 2021, 3:54 am
    Post #795 - May 14th, 2021, 3:54 am Post #795 - May 14th, 2021, 3:54 am
    Takeout 25 has saved local restaurants in Oak Park. Now it’s flexing its spending muscle across the Chicago Avenue border, in Austin.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/c ... story.html
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #796 - September 17th, 2021, 2:16 pm
    Post #796 - September 17th, 2021, 2:16 pm Post #796 - September 17th, 2021, 2:16 pm
    I'm not quite feeling the newish Taco Mucho on Harrison yet but will certainly try again in a more normal open period. It's a tastefully redone room with good aguas - soft and hard - and excellent handmade tortillas. However, $5ish per taco is an unjustified threshold when Hecho en Oak Park and other options are nearby, and I'm puzzled by the rubbery chicken pastor and chewy large-cut steak tacos. Salsas (two, not highly distinguishable in color or flavor) have been bland on one in-person and one takeout visit. Not yet a challenger.
  • Post #797 - September 24th, 2021, 12:30 pm
    Post #797 - September 24th, 2021, 12:30 pm Post #797 - September 24th, 2021, 12:30 pm
    Has anyone hit White Crane yet? I can't tell if its aim is to be a sushi place that offers Thai or a Thai place that also does sushi. I think the latter? Regardless, it's in the former Mom's Place space on Harlem. Google reviews, fwiw, are uniformly positive, though it irks me how often people use the word "fresh."

    https://www.whitecranekitchen.com/
  • Post #798 - September 24th, 2021, 1:34 pm
    Post #798 - September 24th, 2021, 1:34 pm Post #798 - September 24th, 2021, 1:34 pm
    The folks on the "Take Out 25 Oak Park" Facebook page seem like fans. I have not been.
  • Post #799 - September 24th, 2021, 5:14 pm
    Post #799 - September 24th, 2021, 5:14 pm Post #799 - September 24th, 2021, 5:14 pm
    We got takeout from White Crane a couple of weeks ago…they were slammed on a Friday night but the food to me was pretty meh.

    Love,
    John
    It isn't that I'm not full...
  • Post #800 - September 27th, 2021, 12:27 pm
    Post #800 - September 27th, 2021, 12:27 pm Post #800 - September 27th, 2021, 12:27 pm
    Ideal Machine wrote:We got takeout from White Crane a couple of weeks ago…they were slammed on a Friday night but the food to me was pretty meh.

    Love,
    John


    I can't tell what is intended by creative or fresh here other than the space renovation; it is a paint-by-the-numbers Amerithai plus maki concept of middling execution on one tasting so far. Particularly puzzling to me are the repeated "best curries I've ever tasted" comments in the OP FB group and other social media. The proteins may be more tender but the pastes taste the same as every other place around (and with Noodles Etc. in Hyde Park billing itself as Michelin-listed for the same ambition level. Oy.)

    With nearby Habrae now serving killer chicken and pork entrees including sticky or coconut rice, som tum or sai krok, and peak-fresh garnishes down to the toasted peanuts and bird's eye chilis, I'm not picturing pulling White Crane into the rotation.
  • Post #801 - September 27th, 2021, 3:33 pm
    Post #801 - September 27th, 2021, 3:33 pm Post #801 - September 27th, 2021, 3:33 pm
    White Crane’s menu is pretty standard, but I find their execution to be a cut above most similar options in the area.
  • Post #802 - September 28th, 2021, 12:55 pm
    Post #802 - September 28th, 2021, 12:55 pm Post #802 - September 28th, 2021, 12:55 pm
    Giallo wrote:White Crane’s menu is pretty standard, but I find their execution to be a cut above most similar options in the area.


    Can we rank them with respect to Bodhi Thai? Which is my go-to; we tend to stick to the specials and curries, but despite White Crane being closer, I'll need a compelling reason to switch it up.

    A while back, during quarantine, our block did a Pad Thai-taste-off and Bodhi was second place to Thai Neighbor, which was, at the time, an upstart and new to all of us.
  • Post #803 - September 28th, 2021, 3:19 pm
    Post #803 - September 28th, 2021, 3:19 pm Post #803 - September 28th, 2021, 3:19 pm
    I much prefer Bodhi Thai; it’s our go-to place in the area.
    It isn't that I'm not full...
  • Post #804 - September 28th, 2021, 6:26 pm
    Post #804 - September 28th, 2021, 6:26 pm Post #804 - September 28th, 2021, 6:26 pm
    White Crane's menu looks so, can I also say meh? And the excessive praise on Takeout 25, annoys me too.

    I went to Bodhi a few months ago and was not very impressed. To me, the only good option, is Real Thai. Now, I live on the north-north end of OP, almost Chicago, so getting to Harlem and Irving is not that big of a deal, almost the same time it would take me to get to Bodhi. But I understand if it does not fit into people's idea of what is "Oak Park".

    On the other hand, Real Thai is effin delicious.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #805 - September 29th, 2021, 9:04 am
    Post #805 - September 29th, 2021, 9:04 am Post #805 - September 29th, 2021, 9:04 am
    bobbywal wrote:
    Giallo wrote:White Crane’s menu is pretty standard, but I find their execution to be a cut above most similar options in the area.


    Can we rank them with respect to Bodhi Thai? Which is my go-to; we tend to stick to the specials and curries, but despite White Crane being closer, I'll need a compelling reason to switch it up.

    A while back, during quarantine, our block did a Pad Thai-taste-off and Bodhi was second place to Thai Neighbor, which was, at the time, an upstart and new to all of us.


    I have limited sample sizes with both Bodhi Thai and White Crane, but based on what I have tried, I consider them to be on the same level and above average for the area. White Crane's menu seems more limited at the moment, but I imagine it will expand. They have only been open a month, and this must be a tricky time to open a new restaurant. Have not tried Thai Neighbor.
  • Post #806 - September 29th, 2021, 10:33 pm
    Post #806 - September 29th, 2021, 10:33 pm Post #806 - September 29th, 2021, 10:33 pm
    We love Bohdi, White Crane and Thai Neighbor. Every dish we have ordered from White Crane so far has been really good. The pad is great. Before Thai Neighbor opened up, Oak Park really had no good pad thai, but now we have two places to get it- Thai Neighbor and White Crane. The same can be said for the fried rice- love White Crane and Thai Neighbor.
    White Crane's menu is limited and I am not yet excited about their sushi- but the thai is worth ordering-so very good. For us, Bodhi has a more well rounded menu except- not a fan of their Pad Thai, but love everything else on their menu. Thai Neighbor is just further away from our house or I would be there more often- food is always very good and love the fact you can order family size portions.
  • Post #807 - September 30th, 2021, 5:49 pm
    Post #807 - September 30th, 2021, 5:49 pm Post #807 - September 30th, 2021, 5:49 pm
    Vital Information wrote:White Crane's menu looks so, can I also say meh? And the excessive praise on Takeout 25, annoys me too.

    I went to Bodhi a few months ago and was not very impressed. To me, the only good option, is Real Thai. Now, I live on the north-north end of OP, almost Chicago, so getting to Harlem and Irving is not that big of a deal, almost the same time it would take me to get to Bodhi. But I understand if it does not fit into people's idea of what is "Oak Park".

    On the other hand, Real Thai is effin delicious.


    That’s fair. I live on the south south end of oak park so Real Thai wouldn’t be a viable option for a regular spot. I like bodhi’s salad and appetizer offerings as being different from the standard places, but overall certainly not in the same league as Sticky Rice or Rainbow Thai for me. Oak Park restaurants in general make me sad that we left the city last winter. The places I like nearby aren’t even in OP. What gives—is the rent too damn high?
    It isn't that I'm not full...

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