April 2016 | chicago foodie girl


Chicago Eats: Rojo Gusano

Happy spring! Yes, I realize spring technically started almost a month ago; however, it was still very much winter in these parts up until recently. Finally, the trees have sprouted tiny buds, the dreaded s-word (yes, that would be snow) hasn't been uttered in almost two weeks, and there's a telltale whiff of the new season (wet pavement, grass, and dirt) in the air. While fall is my favorite season, I have to say that I really cannot get enough of these gorgeous early spring days! Along with basking in the lovely weather and celebrating the birthday boy (yay, Mario!), I also spent the weekend exploring some new-to-us restaurants with Diana, including much lauded Rojo Gusano.

Tucked away in the heart of Albany Park amongst blocks of tiny family-owned stores and hookah lounges, Rojo Gusano is a simple 70-seat joint serving up a modern, unique, and utterly delicious take on Mexican food. Helmed by restaurant vet Chef Dudley Nieto, the space that formerly housed Mayan Sol Latin Grill has been completely reconceptualized - everything from the name (which refers to the red worm found at the bottom of mezcal bottles) to the decor (beach meets urban taco joint) to the food (with a focus on non-traditional, global ingredients) screams fresh, fun, and welcoming. It's no wonder that the restaurant has been getting tons of positive buzz from Albany Park dwellers and foodie visitors alike.

While some might be tempted to categorize Rojo Gusano as just another taqueria in a neighborhood filled with a plethora of Mexican joints, what makes the restaurant stand out is Neito's heavily diverse menu. Drawing from the numerous cultures found in the neighborhood, along with his own rich background, Neito marries an assortment of techniques and ingredients; the result is a menu teeming with international dishes including a shrimp-and-octopus ceviche with leche de tigre, a charred butternut squash taco, and a charred chile morita salsa with tangy tomato.



Chicago Eats: Appellation Wine Bar & Restaurant

When I heard the news last year that Pastoral was opening not only a cheese shop but also an adjacent wine bar/restaurant in my 'hood, I immediately began planning for the day in which I could roll out of bed and spend a leisurely morning munching my way through all sorts of cheesy deliciousness. Already being a bona fide fan of the renowned shop and a connoisseur of all things cheese (from mild, creamy goat cheeses to pungent blues, I'm always down for cheese!), I had high expectations for the newest location. While the shop and restaurant opened to great fanfare at the end of the year, it wasn't until a few months ago in which they finally kicked off their brunch service. Of course, the moment the words "new brunch menu" floated my way via email, I knew it was finally time to live out my cheese-filled brunchy daydreams at Appellation.

Headed by Jesse Williams (formerly of Birchwood Kitchen), the Andersonville spot is Pastoral's fifth (and in my opinion, best!) location. Not only is the shop a treasure trove for lovers of cheese, wine, and charcuterie (as is every incarnation of Pastoral), but also the cozy adjacent wine bar/restaurant contains sparkling wine on tap AND mustard on tap from Maille. Yes, you read that correctly... there's basically a nonstop flow of sparkling wine and draft mustard. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love my fancy mustards (Diana and I even took a trip to the National Mustard Museum a few summers ago!) almost as much as I love my cheese (and bubbly!), so you can bet I was a very happy girl upon learning of these fun offerings.

Fellow cheese and brunch lover Ashley and I stopped by on a bustling Saturday morning, and after ogling the rows and rows of available wines and cheeses, we finally tore ourselves away from the bar and settled at a sunny table in the front part of the dining room facing Clark St. (a prime spot for people-watching!) for a two-hour tour through some of the highlights of the newly minted brunch menu.

© chicago foodie girl | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Crafted by pipdig