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The best thing I ate in Chicago

Updated: Jul 9

Deep dish pizza? Chicago dogs? may ask.  And I would say those were yummy and part of the city experience!  The hot dog with all the fixings at the Cubs game was divine! The 5-cheese pesto deep dish at Uno Pizzeria will be something I attempt to recreate at home. But if you’re like me and mildly obsessed with international food, then don't miss the worldly flavors you can try in the Chicago foodie scene!  

For any trip we take, we always order a Fodor’s guide book. We have a bookshelf in our home that is lined with these books.  It’s our thing!  My husband studies the book like a college student studies class texts in the days leading up to the trip.  I read a bit of it but mostly I just let him do all the planning because he enjoys it and he’s good at it!  We definitely try to hit well known landmarks in places, but we love an off-the-beaten-path experience too.  Fodor’s will include more of the lesser known experiences then Frommer’s, we have learned.  

In our Chicago Fodor’s book, he read about the Pilsen neighborhood.  This area of Chicago started out with Czech immigrants and is named after the fourth largest city in Czechia.  But now, it is mostly Mexican and is full of Latino culture.  Art and food have a big presence in this neighborhood.  It is a place to go to see vibrant murals and to experience authentic Mexican eating spots.

We ended up at Canton Regio steakhouse on 18th Street, for brunch and it was the best food I ate in Chicago!!  

It doesn’t look like much from the outside and you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it.  But when we walked in, we looked up up up at a very high wooden domed ceiling.  Exposed brick walls and a wrought iron railed staircase give the space a rustic but fancy vibe.  The dining tables are small and pushed together for groups and the chairs are large and covered in comfortable burgundy leather.  

As soon as we sat down, we were given a small plate with an egg and potato dish wrapped in a corn tortilla. Small bowls of green tomatillo salsa were on the table.  The corn tortillas had such a nice flavor and didn't fall apart like the ones I buy at Kroger. Ha! The potato egg mixture, along with the tomatillo sauce, in the corn tortilla was delicious!  Somehow, the potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, even though they were cooked into scrambled eggs.  I don’t know if I could ever accomplish that texture at home.

We looked at the menu and ordered ½ kilo of arrachera.  It is grilled skirt steak with grilled spring onions, fire roasted peppers and charro beans.  We ordered a couple roasted cactus leaves on the side.  All this was brought out in a large metal bowl that was placed on a stand to lift it off the table.  More corn tortillas wrapped in foil came with it.  

The steak was amazing!! Just the best flavor and tendernes. The grilled onions were delightful, but I don't think I'll be eating roasted cactus leaves again! :). We wrapped the steak, onions, more of the potato eggs in a corn tortilla and topped it all with the tomatillo sauce. And that, my friends, sounds so simple, but was the best tasting dish I ate in Chicago!

At one point I walked toward the back of the restaurant and saw the cooks working hard in an open kitchen. I saw dented in, seasoned pans on the stove and knew that I could probably not recreate this type of food in my kitchen. It made me think of the times I've tried to replicate my Indian friends' food. I can go exactly by the recipe they give me but there's something about that authentically seasoned pan and their inherited cooking techniques. I am unable to replicate it.

And once again, I'm inspired and reminded of why we do our community guest chef cooking classes. Real flavors of real cultures are best experienced face to face with a person from a different background from me. That authentic experience is priceless and should be celebrated.

Know before you go: Canton Regio is cash only and BYOB.  So make sure you have some dollars and if you want a special beverage, bring it!  

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