Meatless Monday Recipe Roundup: Sweet Potatoes!

Sometimes veggie cooking can get a bit boring so we hunt the interwebs for new ideas. With winter on our cold minds, our thoughts have been on fireplaces, s’mores, root veggies and anything toasty and easy….after all, cooking can be … Continue reading

Ay Chica WoW WoW, we heart sexy tacos!

Our constant gratitude attitude must be working this holiday season.  We got a karmic invite recently from Rockit PR goddess, Kara Callera, to chow-wow down at Billy Dec’s most recent restaurant installment, ¡AY CHIWOWA! (throwing out a couple more thanks, universe!).

Highlight Reel:  AY CHIWOWA is at the tip of River North on Orleans and Chicago (worth noting as there is secret free parking in the area if you are willing to stretch those Chicago winter legs for a block or two).  Perfect spot for: After work drinks and apps with coworkers (lots of specials for those of us on a “paying back college loans” budget), partying on the weekend with your lady friends (VIP service and private room space in the back of the spot) or an upbeat date with someone who likes it loud.  AY CHIWOWA is also known for their immense selection of tequilas and creative cocktails, such as the spicy Acai Jalapeno Margarita, so call an Uber or a pink mustached Lyft in honor of Movember if you wanna get down.

As cold as it was outside the night of our visit, we received a warm welcome from staff and like a T.I. rap song, we were invited to have whatever we liiiiiked.  The music was bumping with throw back jams like “Snoop Doggy Dog” and an ugly sweater train of patrons danced past us as we settled ourselves at our cozy table.  As Jill, our bubbly and attentive server, brought out a bevy of items, the dudes next to us probably thought we were trying to add some extra padding for the long winter.

 

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Here’s the good, the amazing and the meh OK of AY CHIWOWA battling it out for best thing in our bellies.

Starters: 

Fresh chunky mango guacamole and roasted salsa paired with hot salted tortilla chips

VS.

Queso fundido (aka big old bowl of melty mexicheese) with sauteed peppers, onions and garlic

Ay Chiwowa

¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner?  Tie.  If we were on a deserted island and only had one food to live on, we would be praying some avocados would be drop from the sky.  The queso fundido, however, was a surprise plus with its flavorful veggie additions.

Veggie Entrees Throwdown:

Veggie Quesadilla

VS.

Veggie Tacos

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Somehow queso fundido jumped in the cage match and beat up both veggie quesadilla and veggie tacos.  All three featured the similar sauteed peppers and onions leaving the veggie variety a little lacking.  Maybe throw some black bean tacos on the menu to entice the veg/vegan crowd?

Meaty Martial Arts Taco Match:

Slow cooked brisket-like Barbacoa

VS.

Adobe Veracruz style Chicken

VS.

Pork Belly with pickled radish

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Barbacoa!!!  The short rib meat was so juicy and tasty that no toppings were actually needed.  The bright watercress salad on top of the taco zeroed in on the melt in your mouth texture of the taco.  The chicken came in second with a solid Adobo spice and pleasing texture.

Our coup d’etat and game changers, though, were two sugar dusted churros, with a perfect balance of soft fluffy insides and crunchy outsides, accompanied by an addictive hot cajeta sauce.  When we think of churros, usually its those stale carnival ones, not very thrilling to cupcake connoisseurs, but “someone” enjoyed them so much a bite of churro “mysteriously” ended up in her mouth…and then the stare down began.

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¡AY CHIWOWA!  Thanks again for hosting us!!

Looking for more of what’s hot in Chicago?  Follow Billy Dec’s blog http://www.achicagothing.com and twitter https://twitter.com/billydec

Taco-Tastic: A Soft Shell recap of National Taco Day

Friday October 4th…a day that will live in infamy… a day to gorge on (dare we say it) one of the best hand held foods known to (wo)man: the taco.  Take that, fried food on a stick!  Below is a smattering of some of the most tantalizing taco trends in the Chi area.

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Taco Joint – Panela Taco (Black Bean salsa, grilled panela cheese, mushrooms with creamy guajillo salsa and arugula!) and Grapefruit Margarita!

Taco Joint won our hearts again with their National Taco Day deals.  The brand new River North hotspot has a wealth of wealthy people watching.  Read more details in our previous post about it’s sister spot, located in Lincoln Park.  Mon cheated with another friend and enjoyed the $2 dollar panela, black bean, mushroom and arugula tacos with a refreshing grapefruit margarita and some twitter # provided free guac on National Taco Day.  (Kate: Sad faced 😦 but will persevere)

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West town hides our prime birthday celebration spot, De Cero, on the restaurant row strip of Randolph Street.  De Cero’s Tacos De Rajas, tickle our taco fancy, with mildly sweet green peppers, cojita cheese, cilantro and crema.  For the salsa aficionados, De Cero boasts a range of flavors, from the tart pickled jalapeño to the spiccccy habanero mango.  Bring your friends along as you can order paired taco trays so that everyone can delight in the taco variety.

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De Cero – Rajas Taco, Guajillo Black Bean Taco and more!!

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Latin Asian fusion restaurant, Saucy Porka, puts a twist on the taco (theirs’ is called a baco) with a bao bun base as the taco shell.  We hounded them at the recent food truck rally for their crispy ginger tofu baco with crisp Asian slaw and can’t wait to take over their downtown location to experience their Tostones, curry sweet potato fries, and Ho Chi Minh tofu sammich.

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Saucy Porka – Soy Ginger Tofu Baco

Vegans and T Rexs alike can rejoice in the Baja tofu tacos at the little Logan Square gem, Ground Control.  The lightly fried tofu is topped with pickled red onion, crunchy cabbage, black sesame and a vegan Baja sauce that tastes a little ranchy.  Sweet potato tacos also grace the menu with sautéed kale, firm mushrooms, and a not too hot chili tomato sauce.

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Ground Control – Smothered Sweet Potato Tacos

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Ground Control – Baja Tacos

We are drooling at the thought of partaking in the taco goodness of Antique Taco or Ay Chiwowa as we’ve heard taco-tastic reviews…ooh do we feel a Taco-Tastic review, part II coming soon?

Dearest readers, where do you go to get your taco fix?  We got a fever and the only prescription is…more cow bell…oops, we mean tacos!