Tag Archives: chicago

Restaurant Review: Lakeview Mexican

El Nuevo Mexicano
2194 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
(773) 528-2131

A very good upscale Mexican (well, Tex-Mex) place with a particularly good vegetarian selection. The seafood ceviche is a great appetizer, and of unusual items, the tilapia and vegetarian combination are particularly good. The fare isn’t different from any other Mexican place but it’s very well executed. Try the unusual items. They survieve on the menu

Tarascas International
2585 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
(773) 549-2595

Tarascas is a perfectly mediocre restaurant that is best used for afternoon margaritas on the patio on a hot day. Nothing about the food stands out in my memory except the mole sauce, which was surprisingly good.

Review: Bye Bye Liver

I recently attended Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play at the Public House Theater in Wrigleyville. It’s not a play as much as it is a series of sketches interspersed with drinking games. Apparently it’s been running in various iterations since 2006 or so, and the longevity is well-earned.

The sketches center on the many drinking cliches of adult life, from the guy who throws up at the bar to the girl who turns into a different person when she tastes whiskey. Particularly entertaining are the several improv-style games in which a single scene is repeated several times, each time under the influence of a different alcohol. The show even nail the different gender tendencies with relatively fresh takes, considering how often comedy has gone to that particular well.

The cast is solid (especially Josh Dunkin and Sherra Lasley), and the sketches are surprisingly tight. The intermission drinking games are also pretty entertaining and keep the crowd engaged, though the performers’ real strength is in the scripted scenes.

The theater features a full bar that is surprisingly reasonably priced, and the seating is more akin to a comedy club than a theater per se. You’re bound to have someone in the crowd that is drunker than you, but by all accounts they won’t be able to ruin the show.

Recommended, and good for group outings.

Restaurant Review: Lakeview Eats

More reviews as I eat my way through my new neighborhood.

Chilam Balam
3023 N Broadway, Chicago, IL  60657
(773) 296 6901

A tapas-style Mexican restaurant (also BYOB) that serves a rotating menu of excellent small dishes. A dinner four two should probably mean four to six of these. The fish tacos in particular are excellent. The flank steak, too, did not disappoint. The sauces are authentic, and the dishes are easy on fat and sugar. The place is casual enough, and worth a visit. Recommended.

Cafe Vienna
2523 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 244-9922

A German-style cafe that specializes in breakfast and brunch. Decent brunch foods, with the breads disappointing but the sweet items generally being good. Nothing stunning, but also doesn’t disappoint.

Frances’ Deli
2552 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 248 4580

Frances’ Deli would not be out of place among New York’s delis, and serves satisfying, if calorie-rich food. After several visits, would recommend all sandwiches if you have sufficient appetite. If not, the salmon & onion scrambled eggs top my list. Will most likely join my permanent rotation as a Sunday morning spot. Highly recommended, for what it is.

Bombay Bliss
3108 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 883-2500

A new Indian place on Broadway, I’ll have to revisit Bombay Bliss and may have to update my review. Our first visit was so marred by slow service that it may taint my view of the food. Given that the long wait also upped my appetite, I’ll consider those offsetting penalties for now. The food seemed to be much stronger on the vegetarian dishes than meat, but they did nail the level of spiciness that the three of us requested. It’s not particularly outstanding in any regard, but it’s a decent addition to the neighborhood.

Solar Issues

My office gets a great view of the Chicago River and the downtown Loop, and it’s particularly great in the late afternoon when the sun is setting to the west and shining on the downtown buildings, like it’s doing right now:

Sunset Loop

However, sometimes, in addition to giving me access to a lovely urban landscape, it can also lead to profoundly stupid things. Here’s a loose transcript of events from the past hour. All quotes are thoughts of mine, paraphrased. All times approximate.

4:54 pm. [Looks outside] “Huh, lovely sunset today.”
4:55 pm. [Looks back at monitor, sees spots.] “Wow, that’s disorienting. I wonder if this is from looking at the sun reflecting off the skyscrapers.”
4:59 pm. “The spots are finally gone. Whew.” [Looks back outside, and back to the monitor, where the spots have returned.] “Ah, it is the sun reflecting of the skyscrapers.”
5:06 pm. “Spots are gone again. Whew.”
5:21 pm. “I wonder which skyscraper is doing it.” [Looks outside, to the right. The spots return.]
5:26 pm. “Maybe it’s not just those.” [Looks outside, down the middle. The spots return.]5:32 pm. “I wonder if it works with the buildings on the left. They have fewer reflective surfaces.” [Looks outside at the Art-Deco building. It works.]
5:40 pm. “I gotta get some work done.” [Works.]
5:55 pm. ” What a lovely sunset…”

Please keep this in mind as you ponder my thoughts on eliminating poverty.

Water, Water Everywhere, And Not A Drop To Drink

A bus stop on my way to work featured an ad that said the following:

Loyola students banned bottled water because they believe that clean water is a basic human right that should never be sold. 

It went on to state how many fewer plastic bottles were sold as a result (at Loyola, of course – they were probably just sold elsewhere, since Loyola is a tiny percentage of overall water bottle demand). I hoped that the ad was exaggerating, but the relevant website uses similar language: The promoters of the ban “feel that safe and accessible water is a fundamental human right and must not be handled in ways that put profits over people.” It’s certainly not identical to water “should never be sold” but I believe it shares a similar mindset. I’ll be generous to the students at Loyola who passed this ban and assume that the majority did so because they believed it would be effective in reducing plastic use, which in turn would be good for the environment. I don’t believe the latter has been established, but we can skip that for now. The more troubling parts are the apparent beliefs of some in the Loyola student body and administration.

First, the statement that clean “water is a fundamental human right.” I understand that universal access to clean water is desirable – it can be argued that clean water is what makes our modern urban lives possible – but it’s a big step to make it a fundamental human right. After all, clean water is, among other things, a product: though it does occur in nature, clean, drinkable water doesn’t occur in nature nearly enough to support the world population. To get it to everyone requires time and energy. If clean water is a fundamental right, everyone is entitled to it. This creates a huge disconnect: suddenly everyone demands clean water but no one wants to provide it? And why?

Because, second, the promoters argue that a product that is a fundamental right should “never be sold.” I’m not entirely sure what they envision instead: perhaps water provided by government to everyone. That has been tried, and it generally fails. Even today, some of the worst outcomes occur where markets are prohibited and instead central entities engage in distribution. The prohibition on organ sales, for example, has resulted in a massive but easily solvable shortage of healthy organs for needy patients. Cows are sold, and they’re doing fine. Tigers and elephants, not so much. (Not elephant tusks, mind you. If someone owned elephants, we’d have more elephants and more ivory. But that’s for another day.)

Water today in most countries is “sold” at a massive discounts: municipal water supplies don’t charge market value for the water they supply to households. This makes water affordable for the poor, but it also creates the incentive to overuse: with prices low for rich and poor alike, there’s no reason to conserve water. This is already creating shortages – in the US, the Colorado waters are way overused by states downstream. In the world, the poorest are getting hit the hardest (good luck, Yemen). This is bound to get worse unless incentives are created for conservation, and that means pricing. And pricing means selling.

Wanting something important not to be sold shows a terrible misunderstanding of the forces that actually bring clean water (and food, and phones, and everything) to people. It is BECAUSE it’s sold that clean water is plentiful: someone makes money collecting dirty water, purifying it, bottling it, and delivering it to your local supermarket where you can pick up a refrigerated bottle for 99 cents. The only reason some people don’t have clean water is because they don’t have money to buy it. To fix the problem of access to clean water, the only workable solution is to make everyone rich enough to buy it at market prices. This isn’t easy, of course, but unlike promises of “universal high quality education” or “universal high quality medical care,” this one is achievable. I’ve promised some thoughts on poverty recently, and they’re coming. This is just an instance of the central aspect of my thoughts: to get people what they need, make them wealthy enough to afford it.

Restaurant Review: Del Seoul (Chicago)

My new neighborhood in Chicago is a place brimming with eateries that have potential: diversity, competition, and lack of tourism. The first place we’ve tried is Del Seoul, a Korean street food and barbecue place. It’s listed as a local favorite, and it doesn’t disappoint. It has a fast food feel to it, but you don’t go here for the ambiance. You go for the very good food.

We ordered the dumplings, the shrimp taco, a stone bowl, and a bento box. The shrimp taco is their signature dish and it doesn’t disappoint. Whatever sauce they bathe it in is delicious, and this is the item to get on your first visit, if you only get one. The bento box is an excellent meal in an of itself (I had the beef), with both the salad and the rice, usually afterthoughts, holding their own in the trio. I highly recommend reusing the peanut-ginger dressing left over in your salad bowl for some of your beef. The stone bowl has a spicy kick to it, though it was my least favorite of the dishes. Speaks more to the character of the competition than to the meal itself, and if you’re after a spicier kick you wouldn’t go wrong here. The dumplings are excellent, especially in the various available sauces, but I consider them a must-side here rather than a main dish.

It’s not the cheapest place, but it’s worth it, and the service is good. Even at rush-hour on a Saturday, you’ll get seated and served quickly.

Highly recommended, and I anticipate it becoming part of my regular rotation.