Sunday, June 21, 2009

Road Trip, Day 3: Chicago (Part II)

Trapezista and I arrived near Chicago close to 2 pm, faced with gridlock and very aggressive drivers. Why do drivers (yes, YOU, older lady in the Lexus SUV) honk at you when clearly there is nowhere for anyone to go?

Entering Illinois.

I HATE traffic!!

Cemitas Puebla
3619 W. North Avenue
Chicago, Illinois


Our plan was to first stop by for some authentic Mexican food that was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. My sister sent me a link to Cemitas Puebla because she was intrigued by their cemita sandwiches, that can only be found in the city of Puebla. Trapezista enthusiastically agreed, really missing good Mexican food after having spent a year and a half in Mexico.

Cemitas Puebla is situated in the Humboldt Park neighbourhood that could probably second as Little Mexico. When we did not have change for parking, we bought a bottle of water at a convenience store and had to pay a man behind a bulletproof glass pane. This doesn't exist in Canada!! Trapezista was a little worried about leaving her car on the street. If only we had known that there is parking close to the restaurant!

Cemitas Puebla.

We guessed that Cemitas Puebla would fall under the dive category. However, don't be deterred! The food and the warm welcoming by the owners totally make up for it! We were greeted by the owner, who explained to us what a cemita is. We then sat down and once we decided what we wanted to eat, we went to the counter to order.

Cemitas Puebla's counter and interesting posters on the ceiling.

We decided to first share chalupas ($3.00), which consisted of five corn tortillas doused in salsa verde and salsa roja topped with onions and aged cheese. I started with the salsa roja and thought it was very hot (and I think I have a good tolerance for heat). Trapezista preferred the salsa verde, which was strong in coriander flavour and not as spicy. We were very happy with our appetizer!

Spicy Chalupas.

We also decided to share a cemita al pastor ($6.00). As is well explained on the restaurant's online video, cemitas originated in Puebla. A cemita is a sandwich made up of meat, avocado and a generous amount of cheese with an adobo chipotle peppers, in a sesame bread. The restaurant offers various cemitas, including a pata (cow foot) one. Too bad I'm not more adventurous! The al pastor we ordered consisted of marinated pork and onions. According to the video, the owner regulary goes to Mexico to buy Mexican ingredients, including the cheese and chipotle peppers. I really enjoyed the creamy avocado against the cheese and meat.

Cemita Al Pastor.

We also shared a taco arabes ($2.60). This unique taco stems from the influcence of the Lebanese in Mexico, hence its name arabes. While Trapezista enjoyed the cemita, she much preferred the taco. It reminded her of the tacos she ate in Mexico. She also really enjoyed the homemade sauces that came in bottles on the table. Eating this taco made me realize that real Mexican tacos have nothing to do with the tacos we know, which, I guess, is more Tex-Mex.

Taco arabes.

We were both quite full after eating all of our food. It was very enjoyable. Trapezista declared that it was one of the highlights of the trip. As we were leaving, the owner asked if we were going to come again. No, we're from Canada! Then he happily agreed to pose for a picture with me and his son.

The owners of Cemitas Puebla and myself.

Cemitas Puebla on Urbanspoon

After checking in at our hostel, we were finally ready to check out the Windy City. I got to admire Chicago's great architecture. We walked to the Millenium Park and had fun with the mirrored Cloud Gate. I was really wowed by the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry, surrounded by people on their lawn chairs, watching a free classical music concert, which was part of the Grant Park Music Festival.

I liked the elevated trains.

Chicago's skyscrapers.

The Crown Fountain in Millenium Park is quite... interesting?!

The Cloud Gate, also known as "The Bean".

Frank Gehry's beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

We then headed ou to the Navy Pier to check out the Chicago skyline by the water. There we got tempted by a chocolate churro. It was good, but definitely not freshly fried.

You can always stop for a snack!

The Chicago skyline.

White Palace Grill
1159 S Canal Street
Chicago, Illinois
website (currently under construction)

After quickly taking a look at the Magnificent Mile (that I personally thought was not that magnificent...), we headed back to our last meal of the day. We were going to complete our food 3 D's! We already ate at a drive-in in Montana and a dive earlier in the day. We only needed a diner. Luckily, one of Chicago's best diner, the White Palace Grill, was close to our hostel.

The White Palace Grill.

The White Palace Grill is open 24 hours, every day. When we arrived at 10 pm, it was full. Once we sat down and looked at the menu, I wished I had researched this diner better. We had no idea what to order. Many people ordered breakfast food but I didn't really feel like it. We narrowed it down to a chicken or steak fried sandwich. When we asked the waitress, she said to go for the chicken, but it seemed she just randomly picked one of the two. Trapezista also ordered a vanilla milkshake, that was quite large and looked like a typical diner milkshake I imagine.

Milkshake and chicken fried sandwich.

The food was good, nothing special. The waitresses were prompt but not overly friendly. They were too busy serving customers. When we went to pay at the counter, I really liked the look of their old fashioned cash register.

Old-fashioned cash register.

White Palace Grill on Urbanspoon

The next day, we headed home to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I had a great time on the road trip, full of great scenery and some great food. I couldn't have asked for a better driver than Trapezista! Everyone should go on a road trip, even if it does not compare to Jack Kerouac's!

For previous road trip posts:
Road Trip, Day 1: Montana


Gastronomer said...

What? No Alinea?! Tsk tsk.

You should've ordered the pata since you ARE Miss Adventure ;-) We had pata in the Philippines.

Miss.Adventure said...

NO WAY! We stayed at a HOSTEL in bunk beds!!

Yeah, I know. I didn't actually notice it on the menu but I wouldn't have gotten it anyway... Driving in Chicago is adventure enough!