Illinois | Lincolnwood | Mexican | Tony's Top Ten11 Apr 2017 10:24 pm

Our visit on April 10, 2017 confirmed that Wholly Frijoles continues to offer some of the best Mexican food in the Chicago land area. This week’s special mixed meat and seafood grill included shrimp, skirt steak, chorizo,  salmon, chicken and vegetables along with the usual guacamole, pinto beans and rice with tortillas – WOW! reservations are not accepted, but you can call to be placed on their waiting list at dinner time – it is worth the wait.

Family owned by an ex-Lettuce Entertain You employee, this is a special place. It’s BYOB.

I decided to check the place out in October 2004 since they expanded – the quality remains well above average and the dishes are well prepared/creative. Since I was dining alone, I have stocked numerous half-bottles of good red wine for just such occasions – the meals here are worthy of good wine.

My favorite is their chicken specialty of the house which is served with mashed potatoes – carbs are worth it here! The person at an adjoining table was a chef and was there to check it out as well – looks like the restaurant’s name is getting around. This is also the perfect place for a small get together or celebration. The service is personal but not pushy – so far I know no waitperson’s name (hope they keep it that way – they usually don’t want to see my family videos or photos either).

Anyway, give this place a try – we need to keep it a successful family business.

3908 West Touhy Ave.

Lincolnwood, IL
(847) 329-9810


Chicago | Illinois | Italian | Melanzane05 Apr 2017 09:07 am

An Italian gem – varied and extensive menu, great bread, great service and reasonable wine choices with fair pours.

The house salad (enough to share) with balsamic dressing and pecans was fresh – no wilted greens here! The melanzane appetizer was  lightly breaded and topped with just the right amount of tomatoes, garlic, oil and mozzarella. The egg noodle carbonara was one of the best I’ve ever had – I tend to large portions with plenty of cream sauce and pancetta (definitely should have been a shared entree). The grilled octopus with balsamic was OK but tough (not usually a fan but decided to try it so I may not be best judge). Can’t wait to go back and make this one of my regular haunts (this place originally opened years ago on Peterson Avenue and at the time was noted as a real cut above the usual area restaurants – don’t know why I stopped frequenting this place but I’m back).

Via Veneto

6340 North Lincoln Avenue

Chicago, IL 60659


Street parking and at adjacent medical building evenings and Sunday

open 7 days


Chicago | Illinois | Italian08 Jan 2017 12:00 pm

This Andersonville spot boasts an extensive menu with good cooking – and portion sizes easy to share. Bread plate and salads that accompany entrees will convince you to forego appetizers. Always daily specials including wines. Wait staff is attentive and table busing impressive (but you may have to slow down plate removal – ask to wait until all in your party have finished eating); pasta entrees usually justify a take home container.

Many thumbs up for this landmark restaurant in a trendy neighborhood.

Free parking across the street next to the bakery.

Calo Restaurant

5343 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640



Chicago | Illinois | Main | Tony's Top Ten26 Mar 2015 07:32 pm

This East Rogers Park spot brings sophisticated tapas to a  restaurant desert – not too much around except the spots on Granville and of course The Waterfront Cafe in the summer. But this place deserves a top rating using any criteria you can think of (like great food freshly prepared, reasonable prices, and an upbeat atmosphere).

The tapas we have tried (and loved unless a comment is made below) include:

  • Gorgonzola mushroom sauce over corn cake
  • Brussels Sprouts sauteed with dried cherries and bacon with balsamic glaze
  • Jalapeno Gnocchi ( light as a feather)
  • Twisted eggplant (this is one of my favorites)
  • Chicken meatballs (a little dry but tasty)
  • Stuffed mushrooms with Monterrey Jack, spinach and tomato sauce
  • Stuffed chicken breast
  • Chicken and potato curry (another favorite)
  • Grilled beef skewer (tender and juicy, cooked to perfection)
  • Beef tenderloin with blue cheese sauce (scrumptious)
  • Spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette, tomatoes, red onion and feta
  • Beet salad
  • Salmon with Panko crust with tomato tapanade


Wine and beer choices are sufficient (try the German Riesling and California Meritage, and the stout)

Parking can be an issue, but a little bit of patience always works – and be careful to observe the non-parking areas between the 4-6 PM rush hour.

You can look on Facebook for special deals.

1146 West Pratt Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60626

(In the Loyola University neighborhood)

Closed Mondays


BBQ | Chicago02 Nov 2014 12:00 pm

MK opened this specialty BBQ spot to showcase (in my opinion) his culinary skills and creativity over a wide range of food styles.   BBQ spots have become  ubiquitous in Chicago recently with the opening of many spots – including MK’s. But this is the real thing with pork ribs smoked to perfection – and the pulled pork and beef brisket follow not too far behind. Sides are exceptional (sweet potato fries, garlic fries, collard greens, burnt cauliflower, and several others). This place is close to the U of I medical center and gets very very crowded after  6pm every night – with limited seating capacity a wait should be expected unless you arrive earlier (open daily at 11:30 am and closed at 10 or 11 pm). No wine served here – but good beer choices and bourbon if that’s your thing.

MK deserves your support as he is a big booster of Inspiration Kitchens (see my review).

Parking can be a challenge but you can usually find a street spot east on Taylor (don’t forget to feed the meter). There is a parking lot if you enter through the alley behind County BBQ for a fee. Street spots go for $3 per hour. If you plan to hang out on Taylor Street the lot would be a good option.

1352 West Taylor

Chicago, IL 60607


BBQ | Chicago | Illinois10 Oct 2014 01:58 pm

The absolute best authentic BBQ in Chicago – and maybe in North America.

This small spot on Chicago’s far North side has been around for only a few years, but from the very start they have offered BBQ smoked in a vintage smoker on the premises. Choices included beef brisket, pulled chicken and pork, pork ribs, and sausage links – large and small plates are available with two half portions of two of the meat choices. Four types of BBQ sauces are made on the premises and available for purchase. Nice salad large enough to share is a good choice to go along with the meat(s); sides include potato chips and cole slaw (even cornbread to go along with the honey on the table). This is a BYOB spot – but their soft drinks and iced tea come with free refills. Be prepared to sit on tables or picnic benches – the place is jumpin’ on weekends so be prepared to wait. Takeout is also a big part of their business. Park on Western Avenue and don’t forget to feed the meter.

If you like BBQ – you will love this place. Michael Pollan would be proud of this place (check out his discussion of BBQ methods in the USA in his book “COOKED”).

6954 North Western Avenue

Chicago, IL 60645


French | Illinois | Winnetka22 Aug 2014 04:40 pm

Country French Flair – exactly!

This North Shore gem is a cut above most French restaurants in the Chicago Metro area. The owner comes from a long line of Chicago restaurant owners – though none like his new venture. You can check their website for full particulars.

But on the the food!

Our dining choices to date included Terrine of mushrooms and artichoke; butter fried veal sweetbreads and sauteed escargots over truffle scented pommes puree with crisp onion strings and sauce Perigord; roasted foie gras stuffed breast of hen; duo of roasted breast of duck and duck with black trumpet mushroom Galantine; and grilled Berkshire pork chop with English pea Risotto croquette and carrots. All excellent, served hot, by one of the most pleasant and efficient wait staffs I have ever encountered.

Great wine choices and I recommend ordering the cheese plate for dessert when you order your entree.

This is a first class place with an intimate atmosphere, and great bread too.

64 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL 60093


Chicago | Illinois22 Aug 2014 04:20 pm

A special place on West Irving Park serving exceptional food with extensive wine, beer and cocktail choices.

Our first visit choices were a bean salad with chickpea puree, and the garden salad – both were good choices.

Their menu typically includes 7 large plates (fish, chicken, pasta, tofu, grass fed burger and steak) along with a charcuterie (pate’, sausage, ham) and cheese selections from small (USA) creameries.

Although a bit out of the way, it’s worth a try. Street parking mainly as parking lot is very small. A bit noisy but charming decor.

3732-34 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618


Illinois | Northbrook30 Mar 2014 11:44 am

OK, the best chicken entree so far anywhere (except for the roasters we cook at home):

Tuscan Brick Chicken for $22 – enough to share with your dining guest – also try their wedge salad.

This bistro has an extensive menu which includes many pasta entrees.

The bread is freshly baked and crusty, and you can enjoy the olive oil and grated cheese  while the chicken is being prepared.

Wine choices by the glass are reasonable though selection is limited.

Service is always efficient and friendly – and professional.

This place gets busy so we like to get there when they open at 5pm.

Again, you will not find a better crispy chicken (a welcome and healthy alternative to batter and frying – though fried chicken has its place). Maybe the bricks came from Tuscany – will have to ask next time.

250 Skokie Blvd.

(Don’t confuse it with Francesco’s Hole in the Wall on the left – that spot is owned by the bistro owner’s ex-husband. That’s also not a bad spot but the Bistro is my preference.)

Northbrook, IL 60062


Chicago | Italian | Melanzane07 Feb 2014 01:59 pm

Trullo moved from Evanston about 6 years ago, and has been serving well prepared and flavorful food since day one.

Appetizers are among my favorites -  recently enjoyed homemade sausages on a bed of fava been puree (enough to share) and Melanzane with marinara sauce (cooked al dente with fresh tomato taste).  My dinner companions shared the baked salmon with broccoli and rice with shrimp on the side; we all shared a generous side of Rapini (tender and moist). Nice wine selections by the glass with generous pours. Bread is baked on the premises so the aroma of fresh bread (crusty and doughy) is always in the air – rich olive oil is imported in casks from Italy and the parmigiano is shredded (not grated).

This is a beautiful place with large bar area and seating capacity to accommodate a large crowd – even a small private table near the entrance.

Trattoria Trullo

4767 North Lincoln Avenue

(West on Lawrence from the Outer Drive, as you approach Western Avenue look carefully for Lincoln on the left  – metered street parking)

Chicago, IL 60625


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