lchafin | Chicago Reader

Recent Reviews

Re: “Nuevo Leon

My mexican brothers and sisters swear by this place, and i have a new york friend that makes me take her here everytime she is in town. the portions are huge, and very filling. this place is the archtypal american version of a mexican restaurant, with one exception (see below). it is what mexican food was in this country before rick bayless got to it. beans, melted cheese, combination platters, and lots of grease. i find it all too greasy. there is nothing innovative about the food, and i always leave feeling too full.

the exception - the mexican community loves this place. and the best part of going is that you feel like you are really in the mexican community of chicago, and welcomed. the families running around. there always seems to be a birthday or specail day whenever i am there, and it is a really pleasant, fun, happy place. it's worth it on that account. the room is colorful. for some reason there has been live music there on each of the 6 occassions i have been there. i do'nt know if this is always the case, but it is fun. people should go, for teh atmosphere alone.

the highlight on the food department is the tortilla's, which are made fresh next door (and sold in packages that you can take home)

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lonnie Chafin on 06/19/2000 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Bin 36

the owerns are three guys who worked (continue to work) at Spruce. they decided to start their own place.

it has a slightly different concept, which is that it tries to be the place to go, no matter what kind of destination you have in mind.

Specifically, there is a back area for romantice, intimate dinning. it is a formal kind of place, which top qualtiy entrees etc. it didn't eat here, but expect that it is pretty good.

there is a lively bar, which an outstanding pour list. much better that hudson club in wine selection. there is a front eating area, for a cafe kind of service. there is also a store, where you can buy the wines they serve. also, there is a coffee shop with pastries and great tea.

we ate in the front room, which is bright, and under decorated (we were there the week it opened). the fantatsict part of this place is the wine list. the sommelier travels to wine regions every year (for weeks at a time, maybe 12 weeks a year?) sampling wine and buying bottles not distributed otherwise. he buys the bottles the vineyards try to keep for themselves and them serves them by teh glass. it is a fantastic way to try great wine without the committment of a full bottle. we had flights. buying flights is a fun first date, becasue you have something to talk about, adn you can try each other's wine, which is very intimate. the flights show rgeat diversity, so you can try several different types. really, i travel in napa every year, and the wine selection here is first class. excellent excellent job.

the cafe has entrees, that really work well as tapas. finest ingredients and well prepared. the cheese course is phenomenal. everything is pretty simple preparation in this portion of the restaurant. i didn't really see a lot of invention (which i presume is reserved for the more formal part of the venture).

the bar is pretty lively with trendy types, who despite thier good looks, are very conversational and friendly.

what i liked about it is that you can show up in any condition - suit, jeans, looking for romance, looking for fun - and find a place to experieince some first class food and drink. the quality here comes form making the right selections. they choose great ingredients and great wines, and then do some simple preparations (again the formal part might be different).

the bill came a little steep, and the room needs some decent art and less offensive lights.

all in all, a top tier place.

Posted by Lonnie Chafin on 03/11/2000 at 6:23 PM

El Tipico is nothing to go out of the way for. it is a neighborhood place with excellent tmargaritas and mexican food piled under melted cheese. i have never been able to finish the entree they place in front of me. comfortable, easy, relaxed, casual atmosphere with people from the neighborhood. a before a movie kinda place. it is right around the corner from me, and i have probably been there 25 times. melted cheese on everything. it is americanized mexican food, with refried beans a staple. not a lot of freshness in the offerings. not a lot of excitmenet or innovation. nice people work there, and they will treat you well. its fine. you can have a resonably good time there, particularly if you drink a lot of margaritas.

Posted by Lonnie on 02/09/2000 at 5:17 PM

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