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Restaurant Reviews Reviews Sustenance WIAW

Cantina Laredo, SideDoor Chicago and Avocados #WIAW

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I don’t care if it’s corny. We like to dip it, dip it. Guys, be prepared, this post is all about 4 things:

1) Avocados

2) Seafood

3) Bacon Jam

4) Beverages

Beets. Bears. Battlestar Galactica.


And a huge thank you to Jenn as always for inviting us to the community table.

I have 2 restaurant reviews/recaps for you fools, and I want to do them both justice. Alex and I went to Cantina Laredo last week for our happy hour/date night, but last night we went to Side Door, the reaction to which was so overwhelming that I must oblige the populace and talk about it.

Cantina Laredo

CL is a fave of both Alex and myself–solid margaritas, seriously tasty tacos, superb ceviche, excellent salsas, and prepared to order guacamole. YES PEOPLE I SAID GUACAMOLE. I know how you all feel about avocados and guacamole. And here is the kicker: in the upstairs lounge from 4-7, the menu is half off. Ya’herd. It is a slightly smaller menu than the one downstairs, but it everything on it that we were looking for! What we got:

The Warm Up:

cantina laredo startups Collage

House Salsas–one warm, one cool and chipotle-ish; Made to order guacamole (with all the things)

with a Ginger Mint Mangorita (In theory, a cross between a margarita, mojito, and mule. Was very tasty but the mint could have benefited from muddling to bring out the flavor more–there was brightness but not enough freshness. I think that concept is there, but it wasn’t my favorite execution. Reminds me, actually, of a particular slaw I have seen recently).

Main event:cantina laredo mains Collage

Ahi Tuna Tacos–mini crispy tacoswith sushi cut ahi tuna, chipotle aioli, jicama slaw (delicious), and guacamole

Ceviche Veracruzano–scallops, shrimp, and whitefish with lime/citrus, olives, and awesome. HOLY CRAP huge and HOLY CRAP delicious

Flatbread de Bistek with mushrooms, queso fresco,  cherry salsa (loved the cherry salsa, crispy crust, and the steak, but the mushrooms were a bit oily and there was too much cheese for me (and I love queso fresco)–likely perfect for everyone else!)

We ordered a passion fruit margarita (a house specialty) but it was cloyingly sweet and tasted of pineapple, actually. I know passion fruit and that was NOT passion fruit. We even sent it back but they said that was it. And Alex is a pushover so he kept it. I got a Pacifico.

We had a fantastic time, and literally were eating for the sake of not leaving anything behind at the end. I was physically ill with food and drink. But ya gotta eat big to get big!! hahahaha

But seriously.

Ya smell what he's cookin?

Ya smell what he’s cookin?

Side Door:

A new concept from the Lawry’s Prime Rib empire, Side Door opened very recently, and I have to say, this might be one of my favorite new restaurants in Chicago. Yeah. I went there. One of the best burgers yet, the best bacon jam I have ever had (yes, I have had several other bacon jams before–I was going to say BJ’s there but realized that would be in serious error. But it would have been hilarious), and a craft drink and beer program that is the thing of dreams. My only meh is the fact that the bottle beers are large format only, but they are awesome. I also wish that the salad was a teeny bit bigger, but with everything else (and helping Alex), I was not left wanting. Now, let us dig in.

Warm up:

sidedoor starter suz Collage

Avocado mash with pita chips–Loved this take on guacamole and chips. The pitas were nice and substantial, with a multigrain bite and a titch of sweetness, and played the perfect foil to the avocado mash–essentially a guacamole, but with garlic, lime, and chives, rather than garlic, lime, cumin, cilantro, and cayenne. Super simple, but the perfect texture, and the pitas also carried more weight than chips would have.

The drinks need to be discussed.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Tastes. Just. Like. Root Beer. You would never know. #danger.

Melonade–Grey Goose melon, Midori, lemon, raspberry. Tasted exactly like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. BUT NOT FOR KIDS. Not my favorite, to be honest–it was too sweet for me. But I thought it was an excellent drink, well crafted, and certainly striking.

Main event:

sidedoor mains Collage

Seafood salad–seared scallops, rock shrimp, mussels, calamari, napa cabbage, avocado, with an green goddess dressing and a sriarcha-esque sauce beneath. Like I said, I wish it were a bit bigger (TWSS, goodness I’m on a roll today), but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it. Especially loved the spicy bit from below.

And yes, THAT burger:

SideDoor Cheeseburger–7 ox Angus beef, Wisconsin cheddar, Vic sauce (like a 1000 Island or Big Mac sauce, but better), iceberg lettuce, pickled red onion, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt brioche bun ADDED bacon jam and roasted jalapeno. And pickles (for me :D)

Even Alex had to knife and fork it after a few bites. Seriously. It was amazing. Among the best epic burgers I have ever had (as in, gourmet, huge, over-the-top, as opposed to your more everyday). The beef was on point, the cheddar perfectly melted, the vic sauce mmmmm, and that bunnnnn. But the bacon jam–it was a food group on its own. Large pieces of crisped and then caramelized bacon, just the right amount of sweet. I actually quasi-forced Alex to add that component (he was after the roasted jalapeno, which sadly was lost in the bacon jam), and I WIN I AM ALWAYS RIGHT.

With dinner, Alex got a Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge (similar to a Guinness, but with less bitter, a touch more toffee). I was about the NYFRB. I also loved that both were local brews.

sidedoor interior Collage

The room is incredible–it just got redone, and it reminded me of a tongue-in-cheek reimagining of a Prohibition/Speakeasy/Secret club with contemporary flair. I loved that we sat in wingbacked chairs, at a round table, and though we were in what technically could have been a very high traffic area, we felt totally cozy, intimate, and private.

I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK. I want to get a Roasted Meat Board and the Pulled Pork Poutine. OOOoooooohhhh YEAHHhhhhhhhhh.

Who’s hungry now?

I already know you all like guacamole–with chips and spiced or with pitas and a little bit less so? Who’s up for bacon jam??

Which of the drinks is calling your name? 


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