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Another in a continuing series of posts about my new year's resolution to try new things in Chicago...
I hit two more new (to me) restaurants in April, plus one that was new to everyone. In chronological order:
Bhabi's Kitchen. Apparently Bhabi's Kitchen is the new Hema's Kitchen, a tucked-away storefront off the main drag in West Rogers Park where those in the know go for the most authentic Indian food. I went with Jenni and Cinnamon, who is enough of a regular there that the owner recognized her and asked after her man-friend. We ordered several entrees and various breads -- Bhabi's is known for its various breads (20 in all). I got a tasty sesame naan.
The food was fantastic. The saag alu was much hotter than you would think potatoes and spinach could be, so I didn't eat much of that. But the malai kofta (cheese dumplings in spicy tomato-cashew gravy) and chana masala more than made up for it. I'm not a big chana masala fan generally -- whole chickpeas kind of freak me out -- but these were so creamy and well-seasoned I wanted to cry. Even if everything else about this place weren't stellar, I would go back just for this dish. I can't wait to eat here again.
Argo Tea. I had some time to kill in Evanston recently, so I stopped in this locally owned chain for a spot of tea. I got a cup of tasty ginger-peach for almost $3. Yes. A CUP of tea for $3. With no refills. I can get a damn POT of tea for a buck more -- and good, loose-leaf tea, with refills -- at lots of other places in town. Yeesh. It's just water and leaves, Argo! It requires no frothing or steaming or labor-intensive specialty equipment. Get over yourselves.
Que Rico! It took for-fricking-ever for this place to open down the block from us. We've been watching the construction progress for about a year and a half, hoping we would actually get to eat there before we leave the neighborhood. And it finally opened on Monday. The owners managed to make a nondescript-bordering-on-crappy little brick building into a cozy restaurant with a row of French doors, richly painted walls, and Mexican tiles. There's a roof deck as well, but we didn't go up.
We started with the usual free chips and salsa. The bowl of chips was a bit skimpy, but the salsa was fresh and spicy. Jim ordered chicken enchiladas mole, and I got cheese enchiladas verde. The salsa verde was tangy and pretty hot, but the beans and rice absorbed the heat well. Free refills on iced tea, as well (suck it, Argo!).
Que Rico! is a nice addition to the neighborhood, fitting in well with the sit-down ethnic spots on Roscoe. It's not really a destination restaurant, but if we were staying in the Village, I think we'd probably become regular customers. (Of course, if we were staying in the Village, we'd probably see the place get overrun by the stroller people who have taken over almost every other place in the hood. There were already a few of them in this place. Hey, yuppies? You will not destroy little Bratleigh's self esteem by telling him to stop screaming in a restaurant.)
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