I got tagged by Johnny Yen, so now you can add me to this latest interwebs rage. I'll let this copy/pasted text explain how it works:
1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you.
Include the city/state and country you’re in.
Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Lulu (Chicago, Illinois, United States)
Chris (Boyne City, Michigan, United States)
AB (Cave Creek, Arizona, United States)
Johnny Yen (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Bubs (Mt Prospect, Illinois, USA)
2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.
3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged.
I was telling Johnny that I wish I'd been tagged like this about 20 years ago, because I would have had a lot more interesting places to list. Ask me about my favorite places to eat in New Orleans, or Las Vegas or San Antonio or the Florida Keys, and I could give you a few good answers; it's just that now we don't go out to eat all that much. We love food, but we get more pleasure out of cooking with our family than we do from dining out. I do have a few places I can mention. Here goes...if you ever find yourself in the dining Sahara that is the northwest suburbs, you should be able to strap on a good feedbag at these spots:
1) Sushi Ai
This is an unexpected treat on Euclid Avenue in Palatine. The place is tucked, unassumingly, into a strip mall, next to a Dominicks. The owners were involved with Starfish in Chicago, though, and once you walk inside the vibe is urban--warm wood, cool design and techno music. The food is outstanding and cheaper than you'd pay at the same place in a hipster neighborhood in Chicago. The staff is really nice.
2) Wholly Frijoles
Now this is a place I'm reluctant to even mention. The food is spectacular, it's in a tiny space, they don't take reservations and it's nearly always packed. It's on Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood. Outside of Rosario's in San Antonio this is the best Mexican food I've ever had. They guy who owns it used to be a chef at the Pump Room. This time of year you can see people sitting outside in white plastic lawn chairs waiting to get in. It's BYOB, so if you grab a six pack you can have a beer or two while you wait and then drink the rest with dinner.
3) Gail's Carriage Inn
My favorite breakfast place. We found it when we first moved out here, and it's a sentimental choice; still, the food is great. They recently moved to an address on Elmhurst Road in Des Plaines (a casualty of Mount Prospect's "downtown" redevelopment) but I'm happy to report the food is at least as good as before, maybe better. Try a "spuds" omelette totally encased in hash browns.
4) Alt Thai
Another unexpected gem. This is in Arlington Heights in one of those suburban commercial developments that's meant to look like (and usually fails to look like) a city environment. You'll smell this place from a half block away as you walk up--competing aromas of charcoal, cilantro, Thai curries and hints of fish sauce and coffee. It's a cool space inside, and it's surprisingly inexpensive.
5) La Tasca
I remember eating at some tapas restaurants in Chicago in the early 90's, and I loved the idea of it. All those little dishes, shared with your companions, washed down with a lot of tasty Spanish red wine. I didn't even know La Tasca was there until some friends invited us, and now La Tasca is one of our favorite places to relax and eat just the right amount of garlicky, olive-oil laden treats. They've got a great, reasonably-priced wine selection too.
Hmmm...I want to hear about some food I can't walk to, so I tag Jin, my sister-in-law Kate, Splotchy, Mob and Barbara.