There are three things to know about Chicago’s transportation, especially for college students like myself. One, it is a pain in the neck to drive to downtown Chicago, called the Loop, during rush hour. This should be a no-brainer. Two, the El, a nickname for Chicago’s public transit, has a bad reputation for being unreliable and slow, and thus many college students would rather take Uber or other rideshare services to get to places. Third, there is such thing called the Purple Line Express, which runs during weekday rush hours and skips many stops to make the route twice as fast, and it seems like many college students don’t take enough advantage of it.
If you are not Ubering to Mott St., I would highly recommend that you take some time to explore the vibrant neighborhood of Wicker Park before heading to the restaurant. You will go off onto a residential street with cool-looking townhouses, feel slightly confused as to where exactly this restaurant is, and arrive at what seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Mott St. sits by itself amidst the grey, unassuming street, a small but colorful hut-like restaurant that beckons you to go over and check it out. On a closer look, the exterior decorations of the restaurant seem to me that whoever designed it was trying to blend Korean characters, bubblegum colors and ambiguous cartoon figures all into one confusing collage. Cute, but leaves many questions hanging.
Named on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand and its executive chef nominated for a James Beard Award, Mott St. came into my awareness through a Thrillist article, where it got ranked as the best burger in Chicago, even above Au Cheval’s. (Remember when Au Cheval was the shit? I guess it still is.) Slowly and gradually, I had a couple other people recommending Mott. St’s burger to me as well. I got the impression that their burger is like one of those unsung heroes, who is overshadowed by a former star and is struggling to gain its own recognition. I came to testify whether or not their burgers are legendary.
I forgot how much I love Wicker Park. Edgy and hipster (but slowly becoming more mainstream), and cluttered with restaurants from vegetarian cafes to bougie eateries, it is very easy to fall in love with this casual, fun neighborhood. Here you can find boutique clothing shops, second-hand bookstores, restaurants from a wide range of cuisines, art galleries, live music, all in fairly close proximity.
Just 40 minutes away by L from Northwestern’s campus, Argyle is an accessible district filled with ethnic Vietnamese food and groceries, and one of the best places to go to if you’re sick of Evanston and don’t want to venture all the way out to downtown Chicago.
My affinity for Vietnamese food is quite a recent thing. I never knew Vietnamese food can be so delicious and complex. (I blame Hong Kong for having no good Vietnamese food.) In contrast to other Asian cuisines such as Thai and Chinese, which boast bold, strong flavors, Vietnamese food is characterized by its simplicity and depth. Argyle is where I started to fall in love with warm pho noodles, fresh banh mi sandwiches and rich Vietnamese coffee.
Nearly everything mentioned in this guide is a 5 minute walk from the Argyle Red Line stop.
Words cannot describe my love for Korean food. Spicy and sweet, with bold umami flavors, Korean food satisfy all sorts of craving and I can never get enough of it. The West Coast may have its claim on the best Korean food in the country, but Chicago’s Korean fusion food scene should not be missed as well. Affordable, comfort food has never been better. Here are my top favorites in town. Continue reading “6 Places to Go for Korean Fusion Food in Chicago”
Were you ever that child who was awfully picky and refused to eat half of what was served on the dinner table? I was. During elementary school, I got so grossed out by my school-supplied lunch box, I would eat no more than several strands of the stir fry noodles before pushing the rest onto the side of the box to make it look like I ate more than I did, so that it could hopefully pass my teacher’s inspection before I toss it out.
But then I grew older, and started to get out of my comfort zones, acquiring the tastes that used to repulse my baby-self’s palette. I used to hate mushrooms, ginger, papaya, Chinese almond milk, brussel sprouts, doughtnuts. And I learned to like them over the years, in that order.
There remained one thing that no matter how adventurous I became as a foodie, I would recoil slightly whenever I see people order them – oysters. Especially raw ones. There was something about its slimy texture and bitter aftertaste that kept my guard up whenever I was offered one.
*This review is originally posted on North by Northwestern*
Lately, Evanston has seen quite a bit of a turnover in its food scene. With restaurants offering food ranging from Arlen’s Chicken (which, unfortunately, has recently closed down) to Peppercorn Kitchen, does Evanston really need another new cuisine? The answer is yes, it does, and this April the answer came in the form of a Venezuelan cuisine restaurant. Continue reading “A Taste of Venezuala at La Cocinita”