Broken English Taco Pub. Where were you in 2009?

 

Lonely nights in the Loop. Circa 2009.

On the day I moved to Chicago, I knew virtually nothing about the city. I found a place online in the Loop (downtown) that had an awesome roof deck, and was a short walk to work. I was sold. What I didn’t realize at the time (2009) was that the Loop was just about the most boring neighborhood in all of Chicago. It was practically a ghost town after 6:00 PM.

Neighborhood spots included a gourmet cheese & wine spot, a hot dog stand down the street, two Irish bars within stumbling distance, a decent buck-a-scoop Chinese place that inexplicably closed at 8 PM, and that was about it.

To make matters worse… there were no tacos to be found. Not just in the loop. No tacos anywhere. I mean, I heard there were places out in other neighborhoods, but nothing downtown. Without a car, and before Uber, those taco shops were super impractical. The few times I ventured out, I chose poorly. Nearly five years passed before I found a taco place in Chicago that I loved. Five years.

I found myself in my old stomping grounds a few weeks ago. Boy have things changed. The Loop is kind of happening now. As I walked past my old building at Lake and Wabash, I saw the most beautiful site. A taco place! A taco place that was like, 25 feet from my old front door. This same location was a crummy bagel shop back in the day.

I walked over to this place for lunch today. While I visited the Loop location, Broken English Taco Pub also has locations in Lincoln Park and Old Town. It’s not what I’d call an old school taco shop. More like a fancy taco and bar scene. I’m a fan of that kind of scene.

I can’t comment on the cocktails. It was a work day. But, the tacos are legit. I went with an order of the carnitas and an order of the fried chicken.

First off, the carnitas were delicious. Way too often, carnitas dry out and taste bland. These were juicy to the point of making a mess. Perfect. I was ready to anoint this as the best taco in Chicago until I tried the fried chicken taco. Think fish taco toppings, but with delicious fried chicken instead. Fantastic.

If this place had been around when I lived down the block, I’m not sure I would have ever moved. This is my new favorite taco shop in Chicago. Highly recommended.

 

 

These boots are made for walking

steps

Last January, I set a goal to average 10,000 steps (~5 miles) a day for 2015. Assuming I don’t completely blow off today, I will have accomplished it. A big part of making my step goal was walking to and from the train between both my work and my home. Sometimes I took the water taxi or a bus once I was downtown, but I tried to at least walk one way.  Continue reading “These boots are made for walking”

100 places to drink whiskey

100wBuddha never said, “It’s better to travel well than to arrive,” but it’s still a great maxim. To me it’s another way of saying we need to enjoy our journey in life. Often, that manifests itself in the consumption of cocktails with friends. The following is a list of 100 great places to do that. A while back, I created a Wunderlist of places I want to visit someday. I’ve been to some of these and heard about the others. The list finally hit 100, so I thought I would write a post about them. I’ve left Foursquare tips at many of these as well.

A list like this is often controversial. Surely a few of you have your own opinions on which establishments should be included. Feel free to chime in. 200 places to drink whiskey sounds like a great title for a follow up blog post. Continue reading “100 places to drink whiskey”

Whiskey and Tacos. Nuff’ Said.

whiskey and tacosI’m sure there are lots of great taco joints in Chicago, but until I visited the Bullhead Cantina a few weeks ago, I hadn’t found one.

I’d rank this place in the top ten taco joints I’ve ever visited, and the best on this side of the Mississippi.

I tried the carnitas, the fried chicken, and the avocado tacos. The avocado was my favorite, and one of the few veggie tacos that I would recomend. What sets Bullhead apart from most Chicago taco joints is that spicy actually means spicy.

I’d recommend this place on the strength of its tacos alone, but the Bullhead Cantina features a twist that puts it over the top; Whiskey. Lots and lots of great whiskey. I enjoyed my tacos with a whiskey flight, and later ordered a manhattan. Their select is great from the bottom shelf to the top.

Bullhead offers a daily special featuring a taco, a shot of whiskey and a PBR for $6. My advice, skip the hipster-brew and focus on what makes this place truly awesome: whiskey and tacos.

The Koval Distillery

lions-prideI’m highly skeptical of any bourbon producer that’s not located in Kentucky, and I generally feel like you can replace the word “organic” with “overpriced.” So the local buzz around Koval was initially lost on me.  Then, my wife set us up on a tour of the Ravenswood-Chicago distillery. This place is legit.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 9.03.15 AMIn addition to a full tour of the facility, we were able to sample several different products, including a really good Four Grain and my favorite, the Oat.

If you’re ever looking for a unique date night, or just want to see a world class alternative grain distillery, be sure to check it out.