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Restaurants & Bars 10

The Glories of East Albany Park and a Roast Chicken Nomination

Aaron D | Oct 11, 200311:34 PM

When you move, you eat out a lot. This reality has eased our recent transition from Irving Park to Albany Park, and it has me nearly convinced that we have moved to (to invoke RST-style hyperbole) perhaps the single best chow-location in the entire city, if not country. But first the roast chicken.

I don't know much at all about the South American-style roast chicken places discussed on this board, but tonight we stopped by Brasa Roja, which I think has not been mentioned previously. This was some great chicken. An easy three block walk from our new (to us) condo at Montrose and Troy (one block east of Kedzie), Brasa Roja is a rotisserie chicken place by the folks who run El Llano on Lincoln. The chicken was fantastic--a big rotisserie at the front shows four spits rotating over live lump charcoal, flames jumping up and gently roasting the lower spits, cinders occasionally jumping out over the cash register. The chicken was great--juicy, flavorful, well-spiced (though some might find it a bit too spicy). A nice green salsa with decent heat, a whole fried plantain, two boiled potatoes, and a so-so arepa supplemented our whole chicken for the great price of $13. Cassava (yuca) promised by the menu was absent, but we were in a hurry and I did not inquire about why. English was spoken by our server, but our order didn't really test the quality of communication. Unlike El Llano, the menu is in English. It included mostly meat offerings--chicken, beef, lamb, rabbit, etc. I am eager to hear how this stacks up against other South American chicken places.

But back to the neighborhood. We moved to the eastish edge of Albany Park, a block before it turns into Ravenswood Manor and three or four before Lincoln Square. For eating, I can think of no better place to have moved. The border of Lincoln Square and Albany Park offers the best of two worlds--the wonderfully diverse ethnic enclaves and the trendier, more in-law friendly Lincoln Square spots. When the first takeout menus pinned to your door are Spoon Thai, Noon O' Kebab, Pizza Bubamara, you know something is very right. Especially because the line-up at our old place was something like Oddo's Pizza, Nancy's Pizza, La Villa, and some other odd assortment of bad to middling neighborhood pizza joints.

Brief comments about some of our recent eats:

Spoon Thai twice, once takeout. Absolutely amazing. It's hard to believe how good this place is, even their non-Thai menu stuff. Duck Curry off their somewhat new "Tribune recommended" menu was delicious.

Pizza Bubamara--MrBarolo asked about this recently and I meant to respond more specifically. Sorry. I had thought this pizza merely okay before, but this time I really liked it, reminded me a bit of one of my favorites, Brick's. A thin style in that vein, or like Medici in Hyde Park. A pleasantly bready thin crust pizza. Tomato and green olive toppings were good.

Cafe Selmarie--this came up a few threads ago, and while I always want to like this place (and will probably continue to stop in on occasion), I'm always disappointed in their pastries.

Noon O' Kebab--This takeout was actually a bit of a disappointment. Will have to go back and see what is especially good here, as I know it's highly-praised.

Tournesol--went here last night, a very pleasant 20-minute walk and a last nice autumn evening. Wow--wonderful experience. Steak au poivre and an acorn squash with blue cheese and red-wine poached pear were our entrees and both were superb. Service was excellent and I highly recommend the desert trio of custards.

I could go on, but I suppose I have to stop somewhere. I hate this tendency to refrain for weeks from posting and then produce such an annoyingly-long post. But I love the idea of eating in this neighborhood!



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