Tag Archives: BYOB

Lucia’s

I have ventured many a time to Lucia’s, a small, BYOB Italian restaurant in Bucktown/Wicker Park (can someone tell me the difference between these two areas? Because as I see it, they’re the exact same hood). Clearly anyone who reads this blog knows me and my friends’ penchant for BYOBs, so I thought I’d introduce my friend Lisa to Lucia’s, which is great Italian fare for a great price, as we were going out in the synonymous Bucktown/Wicker Park anyway. On the outside, it looks like a typical modest Italian deli you would normally see in on Taylor Street, except it’s on North Avenue. Off to the side, however, is the inconspicuous entrance to their restaurant.

For 8pm on a Friday night, our wait wasn’t too long, and we were sat comfortably into their smallish dining room. I of course immediately proceeded to order their mussels and pasta, and Lisa and I indulged in a bottle of red.  Lucia’s fare is traditional Italian, with fresh, simple ingredients and flavors. It is great food, and a warm, cozy atmosphere, one of those places where you can dip your bread in the mussels sauce, order another bottle of wine with your friends and stay there for hours.

I actually feel like Lucia’s should be more on Taylor street smack dab in the middle of Italian Village rather than on west North Avenue. But I’m not complaining; it’s a great BYOB meal to have before a night out in hipsterville.

Lisa greatly enjoyed her first experience there, and I give it four spoons out of five. If you don’t want to haul your ass all the way down to South side, Lucia’s as an alternative is not too shabby.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner

Simply It

Pho Soup

A couple weeks ago I planned a dinner for me, my friend Lisa, and Mama Finch at a BYOB in Lincoln Park that I have been dying to go to called Simply It. Early in the afternoon on the date of the dinner, I started to feel a dreaded drip in the back of my throat. With a busy weekend looming before me, I refused to get sick, and almost canceled the evening in favor of my bed and my favorite Thursday night show, “The League.” However, suck it up I did, and boy did I make the right decision.

Simply It is a cozy place, which fits about 20 small tables. The divine smells wafting from the kitchen trigger hunger pangs as soon as you walk in. Though it was 7pm, relatively early for a dinner, the room was quite full with patrons with their vino. Seeing as how I was pretty under the weather, Lisa insisted I try her favorite Vietnamese dish, Pho soup. I didn’t need much convincing and a few minutes later I was inhaling amazing vapors from a steamy concoction. With noodles, and beef, the soup came with a plate of rice noodles, basil, cilantro, hot peppers, hot sauce, and sweet sauce to put in your soup as you pleased. Being me, I dumped all of the hot sauce, one cilantro sprig, several hot peppers, and a few basil leaves into the mix. Let me tell you, it was to die for. The soup was hot, the beef flavorful, and the added ingredients to my liking made for just the right amount of heat. As many can tell you, I am not a soup person. But I would eat this soup every day.

Though on the cusp of feeling deathly ill, I had quite the pleasant evening with my soup and my wine thanks to the amazing Pho soup. I will be back at Simply It; and I can’t say I’ll try something knew, for that soup was so damned good, but I feel I definitely ought to. The soup was a whopping $6.95 so go ASAP. For McD’s prices, you’ll get as flavorful a meal as any hoity toity joint in River North.

1 Comment

Filed under BYOB, Dinner

Cocina Boricua

As a very loud and proud Puerto Rican, it always disappoints me, but doesn’t surprise me when my friends state they’ve never had Puerto Rican food before. True, Puerto Rican restaurants are few and far between in Chicago, but I always try to introduce my peeps to the cuisine, whether through my own cooking, or taking them to a good Rican restaurant. So with that goal in mind, I broadened yet another one of my friend’s horizons and took them to Cocina Boricua, my favorite Puerto Rican restaurant in Logan Square.

True, it’s kind of hard to get to (it’s on Fullerton and Western), but it’s BYOB, and it very conveniently has a liquor store right next door. The food is extremely cheap as well, but amazing. For appetizers, I always order their tostones topped with a layer of guacamole, and then again topped with a slice of salsichon. The cool flavors of the guacamole offer as compared with the spicy hotness of the salsichon offers a surprisingly wonderful effect, and I haven’t met a person who hasn’t liked them.

Moving on in our ridiculously unhealthy but delicious meal, we ordered one steak jibarito with plantains in place of sandwich bread, as well as an order of bistec encebollado (steak slow-cooked cooked with onions) with Puerto Rican rice on the side. I’m not kidding when I say stuff tastes the exact same way my Grandma made every Sunday when I went over to her house when I was little. Speaking of Abuelitas, what I can only assume is the matriarch of the family-owned place came to our table and made sure everything was to our liking. I pointed out it was my friend’s first time eating Rican food, and when said friend said how good it was she quickly quipped with her oh-so-familiar accent “So you’ll come back next week, no?” Pretty great.

Since most of my readers (hello token minority in all friend groups and I love it) I’m sure haven’t had Puerto Rican food I am making this restaurant a MUST go to. I couldn’t represent the island better myself, and you can have Italian or Sushi BYOBs at every corner. Do something different, go to Cocina Boricua, and I promise it will not disappoint. And all my gringo friends have unanimously agreed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner

Butterfly

Hurricane, Crunchy Spicy Tuna, and Sunrise

Hurricane, Crunchy Spicy Tuna, and Sunrise

Ah, Butterfly. If there is ever a go-to, BYOB epitomized, it is this restaurant. It is all the simple joys of good sushi, without the inflated prices. Emphasizing substance over style, Butterfly is perfect for both the pregame dinner on weekends, or ordering in on a weeknight. It’s small, with dim lights, and an attentive staff. They not only have sushi, but hot entrees as well, and I can honestly say I have never had something that I did not like at this place (that is, until I went last week), but it was overall, as usual, a delightful experience.

My favorite sushi maki on the face of this planet, the one roll I have to get at every sushi restaurant I go to, is the Crunchy Spicy Tuna. So of course, I had to order that. And at Butterfly, spicy it is, with avocado, and tempura crumbs. I also have a penchant for tempura on maki. I just love the crunch on the outside of the roll followed by some fishy goodness. Yum. I also ordered the Hurricane, as it is my favorite original roll from Butterfly, with shrimp tempura, spicy mayo, scallion, tobiko, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, and topped with tempura crumbs, eel sauce, and wasabi mayo. This sounds like a lot, but it comes in a perfect bite-sized portion. I hate when rolls are too big for one bite, because then the thing just falls apart and that’s just annoying trying to clean all that crap up for another mouthful. I tried the Sunrise Unagi maki which is tempura crumbs wrapped with shrimp and topped with miso sauce and ikrua, which I did not like at all. They consistency of the wrap was chewy and weird, and it’s the only thing I have never wanted a second bite of at Butterfly.

Of course, dinner at a Japanese restaurant would not be complete without Mochi ice cream. I could seriously house that stuff all day. No matter how full I am after a meal, I will always say yes to Mochi. It was my first time trying Red Bean, which is a lot of people’s favorite, but I’m sticking to Green Tea Mochi as the way to go.

Go to Butterfly. It’s cheap, it’s good, and what you see is what you get. I probably go once every couple months, and once you go, I bet you will too.

1 Comment

Filed under BYOB, Dinner