Restaurants springing up in Lincoln Square
March 16, 2007 (WLS) -- The first day of spring is right around the corner, and with it, a new crop of restaurants have sprung up around the city. ABC7 Chicago's Hungry Hound says one neighborhood in particular is abuzz with great eating.
The first day of spring is right around the corner, and with it, a new crop of restaurants have sprung up around the city. ABC7 Chicago's Hungry Hound says one neighborhood in particular is abuzz with great eating.Lincoln Square has a tradition of great German beer and food. Places like the Chicago Brauhaus have been doing it for over 40 years. But, then came Cafe Selmarie, with its exquisite pastries, and more recently, ethnic options like essence of India and Tank Sushi. Two additional options are well worth your dining dollar.
Mexican joints are a dime a dozen in the city, but few are as ambitious as Los Nopales, which is easy to miss on a busy stretch of Western Avenue. Consider the restaurant's namesake, cactus, which is extremely versatile.
"We use it for the chipotle rellenas, we use it for veggie tacos, for sopes with the fresh cheese," said Adan Morneo of Los Nopales.
Creamy chipotle shrimp is loaded with flavor, as are their cousins, a group of giant langoustines. Meat eaters will love the carne asada, marinated skirt steak arrives perfectly cooked, nestled into hearty pinto beans. Chicken is draped in a homemade mole - a complex sauce with hints of cinnamon, chocolate and chiles. Dessert is easy, one of several homemade flans: orange, coffee or vanilla.
Just a few blocks away, the brand new Chalkboard lives up to its billing, making the most of the re-writable wallpaper.
"The idea of the restaurant is that there is a giant chalkboard on the wall, and the menu changes daily," said Chalkboard's Gilbert Langlois. "We keep as fresh product in house as possible. We only buy enough for that day and when we run out, we just wipe it off the chalkboard."
Creations range from flights of whimsy, such as a tower of Ahi tuna and cucumbers topped with domestic caviar, but also familiar items such as a grown-up mac-and-cheese or dynamite crab cakes.
"Well, I was working with a gentleman from Maryland and he was surprised how horrible crab cakes were in Chicago and he showed me the simple process of making a crab cake, and its more crab than cake," Langlois said.
One dish that never disappoints is Gil's famous Southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes. A comfort dish, for sure, but one that fits into the growing dynamic in Lincoln Square: a little modern, a little retro.
"This is a fantastic neighborhood, I think everything revolves around the library, the park, and the alderman," Langlois said.
Chalkboard also has a nice selection of wines, while Los Nopales is 'B.Y.O.B.', so you'll have to bring your own tequila.
4544 N. Western Ave.
4343 N. Lincoln Ave.
4732 N. Lincoln Ave.
4729 N. Lincoln Ave.
Essence of India
4601 N. Lincoln Ave.
4514 N. Lincoln Ave.
4600 N. Lincoln Ave.
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