Birthday at Home

I flew home to Chicago last Thursday to spend the weekend at home for my birthday. I ate a lot and caught a bad cold. Let's mostly talk about the food, ok?

Straight from the airport Mom and I went to Los Barrilitos, a taqueria we already knew served spectacular tacos al pastor at rock bottom prices. Best tacos al pastor east of the Mississippi!

I had read about another place right down the street from Los Barrelitos called La Chaparrita, so went down and had a look. And a bite. Delighted to find the establishment very much dedicated to Santa Muerte, the official unofficial Mexican saint of death.

But this isn't just a taqueria interior decorating blog! It's important that we talk about the tacos at this taqueria. As you may see from squinting at the menu, most of the taco meats at Chaparrita are off cuts—brain, tongue, sweet breads, tripe—even in my strongest moments, I'm still a little cowardly about those sorts of things. But I had read and read about how great the crispy tripe was at Chaparrita, so I got one (and an al pastor, and a cesina) and GUESS WHAT. It was the BEST TACO I've had all year! So, so crispy, like the edges of a smashed burger, with bits of fat here and there. It only tasted delicious and I'd eat a dozen more! Other tacos were very good, too. 

That night we had chicken curry casserole for dinner. A classic.

Friday Mom and I went to lunch at this place Quiote in Logan Square that has clearly got Rick Bayless's Xoco in its cross hairs. We over-ordered (that's all I did on this trip) and got the torta ahogada, a mollete, a pair of tacos, and a bowl of pozole. Leftovers were finished on Sunday.

Back home to Oak Park, we went and saw the Lost City of Zed and even had time to walk to the theater.

That night we had dinner at what we had been calling "Dos Urban Cantina" but was actually probably "Dos (urban cantina." The waiter let me order way, way too much food. I don't know what I was thinking. I wasn't thinking! But a number of the dishes were awfully good.

Saturday, in no condition for lunch, I took a trip to the Art Institute courtesy of sister Emily. I hadn't been there since before it had opened its new modern wing.

But before the modern wing, the old stuff. Starting with the Tiny Rooms.

Then I walked through a pretty decent Chicago rain, past our Chicago outdoor art, up to Gibson's, where we were having dinner that night.

This was my dinner. the 22oz WR Chicago Cut. It was great, but I tried a piece of Mom and Dad's strip, and was like "ooh, I think this has a better char on it" but Mom had a piece of my steak and said "That's what I thought about yours." Just goes to show that the char is always darker on the other side of the table. There was other food on the table, like vegetables and potatoes and shrimps, but let's just keep the focus on the beef.

Then we saw My Fair Lady at the Lyric. The lobby was a panic, the show was good. Henry Higgins was a spaz.

Sunday. My birthday. I blew out all the candles! And look at this great card from Emily.

I was supposed to fly back to New York Sunday night but my cold was so bad and my flight was delayed so I just rescheduled for Tuesday to try to get a little better before I traveled. And to take advantage of being in a house with multiple rooms to go between and do laundry and such.

Tuesday Mom and I stopped at Jarabe on my way to the airport because this place is a quadruple-fire emoji rated excellent restaurant. 

And then there I was at Midway, on my way back to New York, where I saw a Wheaton service dog. So now I've seen it all.