Category Archives: Mexican

Some Old and Some New Places

When you find something that is good, why not return back. During the past couple of days I’ve been going back to the places I have blogged about in the past. Old doesn’t mean boring. Returning to a place that I’ve been before means a chance to try the other great things that they have that I did not get a chance to before. Check out my returns to some Chi-Town favorites.

Garfield Park Conservatory – East Garfield Park, Chicago

the Labyrinth

I came back here with my family after coming here with my cousins a while ago. This time we brought a picnic lunch to eat outside. Too bad the weather was extremely hot, or else we would have stayed at the park longer. It is a gorgeous park located on the west side of Chicago. A lot closer than the Botanical Gardens, which is all the way in Chicago northern suburbs. Although closer this park, garden is a lot smaller. It is still a great little garden with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants.

The outdoor gardens had a pond filled with beautiful aquatic plants. My mom really liked seeing the flowering lotus plants noting that below the dirt is the lotus root. Lotus root, a vegetable, is used in a lot of Chinese cooking especially in soups and stir fry.

This room was such a beautiful room. Kois filled the indoor pond in various sizes and colors.

New Maxwell Street Market – South Loop, Chicago

Chicken Tamales with Salsa Rojo at Tamales Oaxaqueños made two ways

I came here a couple of months ago, and I had to come back. Check out my previous post here. Being outside in a cultural market with delicious Mexican food is truly a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The first stop for food was at Tamales Oaxaqueños. I read from the food blog seriouseats that this place had the best tamales. The one pictured on the top is a tamale cooked in banana leaf rather than the usual corn husk. The one on the bottom is your usual corn husk tamale. This made for a moister and softer tamale compared to the firmer, harder corn husk tamale. Both were really filled with chicken with salsa rojo on the inside. If I had to pick between the two kinds of tamales, one cooked in banana leaves and the other in a corn husk, I would have to pick the banana leaf one. I’ve never had a tamale made this way before, and it was delicious!

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Rubi’s

This quesadilla is filled with fungus that grows on corn. Being a fungus it tasted like a mushroom quesadilla. With a strong, pungent taste and smell this quesadilla is one of a kind. Quite tasty!

The other thing I love about this market besides the food is the wide variety of random stuff you can find here. There is a lot of junk, but hey one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I bought a $3 used DVD copy of Inception. Can’t wait to rewatch the sci-fi thriller!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal – Millennium Park, Chicago

Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsing at Millennium Park

I usually go to the outdoor concerts at the park during the afternoons, but I decided to go check out the rehearsal this day. Usually the front seats are all taken and people grab spots on the lawn in the back during the actual outdoor concerts, but during the rehearsals the seats was practically empty. We got seats all the way in the front, and listened to the orchestra practice The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

New Maxwell Street Market

Every Sunday the Maxwell Street Market comes to life in Chicago in the South Loop. It is a predominantly Hispanic outdoor street market that fills the streets with authentic, rich Mexican culture.

at the festival

My mom, my sister, and I came here to browse and spend the nice Sunday afternoon outdoors. The Maxwell Street Market sells just about everything from packages of socks to cases of fresh fruit. I even saw vendors selling drug store brand cosmetics and medication. Things like that I would not get at the market especially since you don’t know if they are truly authentic or not. Tons of vendors were selling knock-off purses. My mom’s favorite vendor is the one who sells nuts. My mom claims that they are fresher and cheaper than elsewhere. My sister scouted out the market for vendors selling video games. She was on the look out for the Pokemon Snap N64 game, and we finally found it as we were leaving the market. We even bargained down the $5 game down to $4. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you got a good deal!

My favorite thing about the market is the Mexican street food. Tons of stands selling tacos, quesadilas, talames, churros and so much more. We decided to stop by one of the stands and give the food a try. I got a pork tamale. Unfortunately the tamale was not fresh. It was tough and slightly hard. Not like the soft tamales I was use to. Fortunately the steak taco that my mom ordered was delicious. The steak was well seasoned. The soft taco shell was warm and so soft. Must go back to try all of the other foods!

All in all this street market is definitely someplace you should check out if you are in Chicago. So many sights, sounds, and smells. The authentic mariachi music blasting from the boom boxes of vendors selling CDs. The tasty smells of authentic Mexican street food. The amusing sights of tiny chihuahuas running to keep up with their owners with their teeny tiny legs. Tiny dogs like chihuahuas should not be brought to busy markets. I was so afraid I would accidentally step on them if I wasn’t careful about where I was walking. Overall a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Tacocopter

the Tacocopter

Take a look at this Huffington Post article. It talks about an unmanned drone helicopter, a Tacocopter, delivering tacos to hungry lunch goers, snack munchers, the dinner crowd. You order the tacos on the smartphone, and this sends the order and the location of where the order is placed, so that the tacocopter can deliver the food directly to you. No hassle, quick delivery, decreased wait time. What is there not to like? This business plan combines what the article says are the four most “prominent touchstones of modern America: tacos, helicopters, robots and laziness”.

look at that Tacocopter go

Unfortunately the U.S. government prevented the production and usage of the Tacocopter perhaps for good reason too. Imagine this flying down from the sky. You stand there wondering what it is. Suddenly you get whacked in the face, because the Tacocopter doesn’t stop for anything or anyone, determined to deliver those tacos to a hungry customer. Or those helpless birds flying in the surrounding area getting mutilated by the wings of the Tacocopter.

But nevertheless “if it gets me my taco faster that way then it’s worth it. The taco justifies the means” – the words of one dedicated taco eater.

Strip District

Greetings from Pittsburgh. I made it on the next bus to Pittsburgh without missing it. This morning we went to explore the Strip District. The Strip District is this big outdoor hustle and bustle of ethnic grocers, street grills and food vendors, sidewalk merchants, and rows of small shops. The authenticity of this place is like no other. Pittsburgh Steelers gear all over, wafts of all different types of smells, bright colors of goods, fruits, foods, sounds of laughter of families, shouts of the vendors, and the sound of spontaneous fun.

 Peace, Love and Little Donuts

Raspberry Lemonade Donut at Peace, Love and Little Donuts

donut maker

This place has the most wonderful donuts. Tinier than your usual Krispy Kreme donuts or Dunkin’ Donuts, but just the perfect size. They come in so many different, unusual flavors like Rasberry Lemonade Donut and Maple Donut with Bacon Toppings. You can smell the aroma of these wondrous donuts a block away. The donuts are freshly made and dropped into the fryer before being frosted and sprinkled with toppings.

Reyna’s Taco Truck 

Barbacoa Taco

Taco Truck

This stand supposedly had the best tacos in Pittsburgh. Reminds of the taco trucks I’ve seen in NYC. I got a Barbacoa Taco and a Horchata drink. The taco was delicious. The meats were very well grilled. It was topped with cilantro, onion, and cheese. My favorite part of it was the actual corn tortilla. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The horchata was excellent. Horchata is a Mexican milky sweet rice drink. Delicious drink to pair with the taco.

Fortunes Coffee 

I love coffee stores, and this store had so many sights and smells selling coffee by the pound.  This place had so many different types of coffee.

Penzeys Spices

Rekha checking out the baking spices

what an adorable kitchen!

This place has whatever spice that sparks your fancy. The best part about this place was that with every spice they had there was an accompanying jar of the spice to smell it. So many smells to smell.

Robert Wholey and Co Fish Market 

I love going to markets, because there are so many sounds, smells, and sights. Overstimulation of the senses in the best possible way. I wish I actually lived in Pittsburgh, because I would have gone crazy shopping at this place. Buying seafood, meats, produce, and all kinds of foods.

Stamoolis Bros 

Grape Leaves

An ending to a wonderful day at The Strip. I got a box of 5 grape leaves at the Greek Market Stomolis Bros to go.They were delicious! Spiced rice wrapped in grape leaves.

The Strip was an excellent place to wander around. Every store we went into there were so many new things to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. In my visit to The Strip I walked into Greek, Korean, Polish, Italian, and Mexican markets. A wonderland of ethnic foods!