Instead of heading down for some Corn and Turkey Leg, yesterday my girlfriend and I decided to spend a third of the money and do our own Taste of Chicago, and yes, it was still too hot. Two oldies but goodies and four new places were tasted. Unfortunately, this was sort of spur of the moment so a few names have been forgotten but I'll do my best.
First stop was Cafe Mariano on Milwaukee for a steak w/cheese sandwich. As always, $2.75 well spent. The bread they use there is just perfect for their sandwiches. On coming out I noticed a blue van just south. Is this *THE* blue van I've heard about. The Maroon Van I've visited many times, but the Blue has eluded me. Anyway, I suppose it's worth noting the time if anybody is wondering when to find the Blue Van (if this is THE Blue Van). It was 4PM on a Thursday. There was also a drink stand set up pretty close to where the Maroon Van usually is. I don't think it was the same people.
From there we headed up Kedzie and stopped in to see the Shawarma King. Seems there is a Prince now as well as there were two people working there, the second, around 17 or so. Ordered a chicken and a beef shawarma. Both amazing. It's been oft-discussed on here why they are amazing, so I won't beat that drum any more. Suffice to say the King is still on top of his game.
Third stop was the recenlty discussed Noli's Pizza. Didn't try the pizza but it actually looked like it had some good thin NY Style potential. We walked right up and ordered that 4th of July standard, byrek. The girl behind the counter seemed pleasantly surprised by this quick, decisive order by two non-Albanians. Apparenlty, there hasn't been a huge chowhound rush to Noli's yet. There should be. For $5 we received a gigantic chewey/philo pie with good tasting feta. The biggest difference with the byrek here and other philo-based pastries like Greek tiropita or Middle Eastern meat & cheese pies was the lack of butter. I'm sure there was *some* butter, but it certainly wasn't overwhelming. I'll do a report on the pizza soon and many more byreks are going to be consumed in the near future.
The fourth and fifth destinations were up on Devon. Thanfully there was a police emergency on Western that required us to basically retrace our steps back towards Kedzie in order to go north. Thankfully because of the giganticness of the byrek.
My knowledge of Indian food is probably my largest culinary definciency. I know nothing. I could easily order the "no smoking" sign for lunch. I can't get too descriptive here but we had some samosas and a pistachio treat at the first place and a few sweets at another shop. Everything was really good. I pledge to learn more about this cuisine.
Finally, spurred on by the recent talk of malts on this board and my general love for shakes, we set out for (more) dessert. Finding ourselves heading west on Devon I thought maybe a Superdawg AND dessert might be in order. However, spotting a few small ice cream stands accellerated my desire for a shake. Where we stopped may not actually exist. It might be a peek into what hell will be like if I do not change my ways (and yes, I'm aware of the ice cream in hell irony here). At first glance I thought we were magically transported to Wheaton. Actually we were in Edgebrook, an area of Chicago I've somehow avoided my whole life or at least never stopped in. Anyway, the ice cream. We stopped at this western-themed ice cream shop. All the workers were dressed like cowboys (minus that hats because of the heat?). I can't remember the name, but it about a block east of the Starbucks on Devon. Inside there were about twenty kids and four parents (and cowboys). After waiting a while I was able to order my five dollar shake. For five dollars I'm thinking it will be either really big, or really high quality--actually for five dollars it should be both. It was neither. Not half-bad chocolate flavor, but nothing to get excited about. However, when you can easily blow bubbles with the shake the second it's served, it's a little too watery. But at least I was able to finish it. My girlfriend ordered a tangerine sorbet. Now there may be places to get a shake and then places to get a sorbet. I'll admit there may be few places that do both well but I didn't think I'd ever pay $7 for a place that does both badly. Back to the sorbet, which is what I'll call it because calling it a tangerine sorbet is quite misleading. There just wasn't any tangerine flavor or any flavor really to speak of. So that was deposited in the dumpster after a few tastes. Again, I don't remember the name but this had to be one of biggest rip-offs ever. If anybody lives in Edgebrook and has had similar experiences, please post the name so others aren't fooled into thinking a western-themed ice cream parlor in Chicago is worth a shot. Guess I'm just a sucker for cowboys. Wait a minute. No I'm not. What on earth was I thinking? I have no idea what demon took over my body and made me go in. Usually I run and hide from any THEMED place. Just goes to show what shake craving can do to an otherwise logical, stable individual.
All in all I'm quite happy with My Taste. I spent a lot less money, ate significantly better food, escaped to an air-conditioned car for a few minutes here and there, and the only sweat on my body was mine.