Jun 032013
 

Taco Chino

I walk past Taco Chino frequently and have never once been tempted to cross the street, enter the strip mall and darken the door of this chain-esque shoppe nestled between a laundry mat and a liquor store. It has zero curb appeal. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned “Korean Tacos” that I perked up. Even then, it didn’t register that this was the spot until she walked me to the parking lot.

Kimchi Fries Taco Chino

Kimchi + Cheese + Fries = Genius Yum

I’m surprised by how much I liked its cafeteria-clean charm and the crooked kitsch hanging on the walls. The menu? Look for a blend of Korean-seasoned Mexican classics with a bit of American fast-food influence thrown in for good measure. The idea of Taco Chino is really expressed in an order of Kimchi Fries — a combination of Orida-cut potatoes, a coating of real cheese product and the hot tang of kimchi. Next time I need to soak up a bad evening, I am stopping for an order of these. I suggest you do the same.

Kimchi Taco Taco Chino

Korean and Mexican meet in taco form

The Korean touches continue with Kimchi Tacos — a combo of tenderly seasoned pork bits, fresh cilantro, onions and the bite of kimchi served on an El Milagro’d soft corn taco. It was worth every bit of the $2.25 I paid for it. We also ordered the Bulgoki Taco with beef marinated in a homemade sauce that wasn’t quite what either of us know of bulgoki. Not bad, and again worth the coin.

Vegetarian Tortas Taco Chino

Vegetarian made delicious.

Just to add to a leaden belly, we also tried the guacamole and chips. I’ve paid a lot more for a lot worse at sit-down Mexican restaurants. Don’t go out of your way just for the guac, but order it if you’re in the mood.

I will go back to try more tortas. Their vegetarian version was served on a well toasted bun and filled with a hearty combination of sauteed peppers, beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Vegetarian sandwiches are seldom satisfying, but this was quite good.

Thanks, Taco Chino! I will dive in again soon.

Taco Chino
4712 N. Kimball Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

Aug 162012
 
A fool for fava-ful ful! | Semiramis

A fool for fava-ful ful!

An out-of-town guest prompted a return to Semiramis (4639-41 North Kedzie) last week, and I’d nearly forgotten how much I love this restaurant! There’s really no excuse for not going more often — it’s steps away from the Kedzie Brown Line stop, super cheap, and absolutely delicious. I know I’ll stop in more frequently for the hummus, falafel and other Lebanese delights.

Read more about why I love this neighborhood gem on my latest Chicago Like A Local entry!

Dec 202011
 

Jülbord is the Yule table set by the Swedes this time of year to gorge on all manner of traditional hot and cold dishes from Sweden. This December, Albany Park’s favorite Swedish restaurant, Tre Kronor, hosts its version of the feast with song, aquavit and endless spread of food. There are only two seatings per night until December 23, so if you want to include it in your holiday plans you should call for a reservation now.

Tre Kronor Jülbord

Jülbord includes singing traditional Swedish songs

I’ve lived within walking distance of Tre Kronor for nearly a decade, but didn’t manage to make my way here for Jülbord until last week. I don’t know why I waited so long, but I’m putting the feast of Saint Lucia on my calendar for next year so I don’t forget about it. I love pickled herring and owners Larry Anderson and Patty Rasmussen have not one, not two, but ten versions of pickled herring for guests to choose from. If you get the chance, try the sweet Christmas herring — a ghastly pink version made with pickled beets. It’s delicious.

Tre Kronor

Herring!

Herring was followed by a whole smoked salmon and array of seafood including oysters on the half shell, jumbo shrimp, and shrimp salad. New potatoes, pickled cucumbers and beets, and assorted Scandinavian cheeses and cold meats nearly defeated my first plate of food. I went back though to try Jansson’s Temptation, a casserole of shredded potatoes, onions, and anchovies in cream — it’s so much better than scalloped potatoes, trust me. Meatballs, ham, braised red cabbage, creamed spinach and prinskov rounded out the second trip through the jülbord. I was ready for stretchy pants and a nap by this point, but I perked up after a shot of aquavit infused with lingonberries and another infused with saffron. They were both palette cleansers. I know you understand.

Aquavit

Aquavit infused with saffron and lingonberries

The dessert table was covered with little butter cookies, petit fours, a long dish of rice pudding and a short dish of lingonberries to top it with, burnt custard, and overflowing bowls of Clementines and nuts. I pocketed my Clementine for later, but truthfully that was the only restraint I showed during the two and half hours it took for dinner.

Thankfully, that time wasn’t spent entirely on food. Our servers for the evening, Maja and Caroline, shared the story of Saint Lucia, whose feast day is December 13, and sang traditional songs in Swedish, including a lovely version of Silent Night. There were a few people in the room who could sing along in Swedish, but I did my part by stomping when told and capping the meal with a heartfelt salute, “God Jul och Gott Nytt År” and a promise to return next year.

Tre Kronor

Desserts under the tree...

Tre Kronor
3258 West Foster Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-4828
(773) 267-9888