Eating all the tacos @ Añejo

So we’re hanging out at Añejo, this funky Mexican joint on King West. Last time we were here, I went to town on this Mexican meat mountain in Flavourtown, which was soooo outta bounds, bro! But you KNOW we can’t go to a Mexican place and not eat tacos — so that’s why it’s time for another visit.

Now, this place has got about a dozen tacos on the menu, but the fancier ones only come in threes. However, you can get their “Tacos Classico” in any combination of one, three or six — and with six different kinds, that means I’m having one of each.

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Forget about saving the best for last — we’ve having this one first, son!  I’m talking Barbacoa, a super tender pulled beef short rib with crunchy bites of raw jalapeños… I could slam, like, six of these alone!!!

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But we’ve moving right along to the Chicken Tinga taco. I usually find chicken tacos to be boring, but this one was a cut above — meat was very tender, although it did not have much of a kick.

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On the other hand, the Braised Mushrooms Taco is both the sauciest and spiciest one so far. Not quite as hot as the mushroom birria at Rosalinda… but I definitely needed a few sips of Michelada after this!!!

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The Chorizo Crumble was not too dry or too spicy. Basically, it was like ground beef — except it’s sausage. Oh, and a bunch of of it fell out the back…

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When it comes to pork tacos, though, I preferred the Pulled Pork. This one gets the job done with a nice little tang, son!!!

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Crispy Fried Tilapia was both crispy and flaky. A bit of the house made crema really kicks it up a notch!!!

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! Last time, I tried the tarta de chocolate, but now we gotta go for the churros. Hot ‘n crunchy, with a whole buncha powdered sugar, and some chocolate sauce on the side for dipping… There’s nothing wrong with that at all!!!

Goin’ all Guy Fieri on fish and pasta @ Fieramosca!!!

Dude, you KNOW this is body by Italian food, bro! So when I heard about Fieramosca Trattoria, this funky little joint on a side street just a meatball’s throw away from St. George, I definitely had to check it out! This place has been dishing out Italian classics since 1980, so you know it’s gotta be good. And while there’s no shortage of pizza, pasta and meat dishes on the menu — they’ve even got not one, not two, but three different versions of veal scaloppini –we decided to go with the Grigliata Mista di Pesce, aka grilled seafood platter:

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You won’t miss Meat Mountain when you’ve got this smorgasbord of seafood, son! There’s three different kinds of fish here — salmon, halibut AND sea bream — plus calamari and tiger shrimp, along with a whole lotta potatoes, peppers, green beans and two baby carrots. Dude, this is enough food to feed at least two people…and since I actually shared this dish, I still had room for pasta:

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I am sooooo trippin’ balls over this mushroom tagliatelle, bro! You’ve got three kinds of shrooms — oyster, porcini AND shitake — on top of thick, chewy noodles in a white wine cream sauce. Shut the front, back and side doors!!!!!!!!

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! This leaning tower of tiramisu tastes just like Nonna makes it — except maybe for that chocolate sauce swirl around the outside. But that didn’t stop me from scarfing it all down, son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Killin’ a cacio e pepe pizza for breakfast, bro!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Stock T.C., this funky joint at Yonge & Eglinton that’s a collaboration between Sud Forno, Terroni and Cumbrae’s. I am no stranger to any of these places, whether it’s the square pizza at Sud Forno or the rooftop patio at Terroni on Price, where they’re serving up one of my personal favs, the Focu Meu. So it’s pretty safe to say that I’ll be ordering pizza here, too.

Now, Stock T.C. has got 15 different pies in the sky, but it was the last one on the menu that caught my eye: Cacio e Pepe Uova e Tartufo. It’s like a delicious run-on sentence in Flavourtown!!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got a nice, chewy, thin-crust pizza topped with cheese and pepper, with two kinds of cheeses — mozzarella AND Percorino Romano, bro! Then they put not one, but two eggs in the middle, and shred a whole buncha black truffle overtop. Now, the cheesiness of this pizza is pretty good on its own, but when you get some egg yolk in there, and maybe a bite of truffle, that right there is the ticket!!!

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Now, this place only has six beers to choose from — and one of them’s non-alcoholic — so instead I went with a Caesar. I gotta say, this drink was not very spicy, and I couldn’t really taste the booze. I might as well have been drinking a Krombacher 0.0, bro!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Burgers and Beers of Doom @ Kuma’s Corner

Man, I have been wanting to go to Kuma’s Corner ever since I first heard about the heavy metal-themed craft beer & burger joint a few years back. So there’s no way I was gonna leave Chicago without checking this place out, bro!!!!

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With so many awesome burgers on the menu, it’s hard to pick just one…but I went with the Sourvein, named after the North Carolina sludgesters. Basically, it’s a thick n juicy bacon cheeseburger topped with fried chicken n waffles, smothered in maple syrup and a spicy donkey sauce, which I scarfed down to the tune of “Deadly Sinners” by 3 Inches of Blood. Man, even the chicken is pretty good on its own…but throw in the beef, bacon and a bite of that waffle, and that just takes it to the next level, bro!!!!

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When it comes to beer, we’re starting off with a Zombie Dust IPA from Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing. Clean, crisp and not too hoppy, checking it at 6.5%. Gotta love that awesome artwork too!

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This Blueberry Sleazecake from Wake Brewing is a fruited sour that tastes like blueberry juice, and is deceptively strong at 6.5%. Man, this would go great with some Motley Crüe on the stereo — but it seems like the playlist here is mostly modern melodic death and Viking metal. (They’re pretty heavy on Lamb of God and Amon Amarth.)

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But it only gets heavier from here, bro! This Imperial Blood of the Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing is a red IPA that checks in at 9.5%. This is quite tasty — a nice balance between the malt of an amber and the hops of an IPA. But let’s just say there’s a reason why they serve it in a little snifter…

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And since they don’t have a dessert menu, I am going for some liquid dessert with this Dino S’Mores Russian Imperial Stout from Off Color Brewing. Rich, chocolatey, and 2.5 times as strong as a Guinness — you ain’t drinking this one for breakfast, bro!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: This funky BBQ joint is honky tonk redonkadonk!!!!!

Man, I loves me some BBQ, so when I found out that Guy Fieri had visited Honky Tonk BBQ, this funky little joint in the Pilsen neighbourhood, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro! That episode was back in 2009, but I gotta say, this place stands the test of time…

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I ordered the Delux Personal Platter, and my food was ready in about 5 minutes. You have a choice of pork or brisket, but I went with the brisket — and it was some of the most tender brisket I’ve ever tasted! There’s just a hint of dry rub here, but other than that, this meat really doesn’t need any sauces or seasonings…

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On the side, this dish comes with cornbread, a hot link and your choice of side — I went with the mac and cheese, which was nice n creamy. Cornbread was soft and easy to eat, once you got it out of the corn wrapper, and the sausage was smoky, crispy and more than a little spicy. Nothing wrong with that at all…

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Of course, when I saw they had Bacon Candy on the menu, I had to get me some, son! Thick, chewy bacon covered in brown sugar makes this equal parts sweet and meat — it’s a winning combination in Flavourtown!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Al’s Italian Beef vs. Portillo’s Hot Dogs

Now, after you’ve had a few drinks in downtown Chitown, you *might* wanna eat something. Good thing they’ve got late-nite institutions like Al’s Italian Beef and Portillo’s Hot Dogs to meet your drunken needs, serving up Italian Beef, Chicago Dogs, and everything in between! We’re gonna stick with the classics, though. Can Al’s make a better hot dog than Portillo’s? How does Portillo’s Italian Beef stand up to a place with Italian Beef in its name? That’s what we’re about to find out…
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Al’s Italian Beef

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The Chicago Dog, while compact, had a nice snap, good tang from that neon relish, and a little kick from the hot peppers. It even comes with fries, which taste fresh-cut, nice and hot with just enough chew.
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I ordered the beef dipped, which meant it was extra messy, with the bread barely holding it together. And paying extra for cheese sauce was not a good idea, since most of it ended up in my hand, not my mouth. But man, this beef is sooooo tender…. This one’s gonna be hard to top!
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Portillo’s Hot Dogs

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Now, Portillo’s definitely has a better dog — it’s nice and beefy, and only $3.59 (although it doesn’t come with fries.) The pickle is big and juicy, and almost overpowers the meat, while the bun is soft and slightly smushed.
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I also got my beef dipped here, although they didn’t ask me if I wanted cheese or peppers, and it just came plain. (I guess there were a couple peppers hiding in there somewhere, but they were pretty well hidden.) They also use a thicker, tastier bun than Al’s, so it doesn’t seem as soggy. When it comes to the beef, it’s not as tender or as flavourful as Al’s — but it’s still a pretty tasty sandwich.

Final Verdict

Well, I guess you can say both these places live up to their names. Portillo’s had the better Chicago Dog…but when it comes to the best thing I ate, between the two places, I gotta go with the Italian Beef from Al’s.

3-course Mother’s Day brunch @ Gallery Grill

We may have been raised by wolves on Triple B, but that doesn’t stop us from going to Mother’s Day Brunch, bro! We’re hanging out at the Gallery Grill, this funky joint inside Hart House on the U of T campus, where they’re serving up a three-course Mother’s Day brunch for 50 bucks. Mama, Mama, I’m coming hooooome!!!!

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Now, the starters were all salad, except for this one soup. So I went with the cheesiest salad available, with Buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and arugula. I think this would go pretty good on top of a burger, bro!!!

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For the main course, we’re doing steak and eggs, son! Steak is a nice medium rare, with two sunny-side up eggs, a couple pieces of toasted baguette bread and some bland, unseasoned homefries. Oh, and there’s also a side salad. Dude, this has gotta be the most salad I’ve ate all year!!!!

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For dessert, we’re crushing a 70% chocolate sorbet, with crunchy chunks of aquafaba meringue. Apparently, aquafaba is the liquid left over from a can of chickpeas. #TheMoreYouKnow, bro!!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: This 1920’s speakeasy is legit hidden behind a bookshelf in a basement…

Now, the whole idea of a speakeasy started in Chicago during Prohibition, so when I heard that The Drifter was an an actual 1920’s style speakeasy in the basement of a neighborhood pub, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!

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To be honest, I think I was expecting a bit more of a throwback — it kinda seems like a run-of-the-mill hipster bar, albeit one hidden behind a bookcase in true speakeasy style, with a battered wooden bar and an alt rock soundtrack. And I dunno if their cocktails are really true to the 20s — but printing them on tarot cards is kind of a quirky touch.

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Sun’s Out Guns Out has a nice little kick from the ginger beer, and just a touch of spice, leaving a fiery aftertaste. Not sure I taste the bourbon here, though — I guess it really blends in.

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Bye, Felicia is garnished with a pineapple, and you can really taste it in the drink as well. Fruity, citrusy with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

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Sherry Berry Cobler is very tart, with raspberry, lemon and grand marnier. The aftertaste is like something you’d put in a pie and bake it, bro!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Brunching on French toast, bacon and beers, bro!!!

Before heading down to Wrigley Field, we’re hanging out in Wrigleyville at this funky little joint called Uncommon Ground. It’s not the closest bar to the ballpark, but people come here for some super-legit brunch and their own brand of organic craft beer from the in-house Greenstar Brewing.

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Their ham ‘n cheese stuffed French toast is fluffy, syrupy, with some nice bites of grilled ham. The cheese kinda gets lost here, though. I also added a side of bacon — first rule of Flavourtown is Always Add Bacon! — and the crispy bacon added a nice extra texture.

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They call this a Greenstar Beermosa, and it’ll cure yer Summertime Blues, bro! A malty Belgian single that checks in under 5%, with a splash of orange juice for a nice citrusy flavour, which does make it taste kinda like a mimosa. I could drink this all day, bro!!!

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But instead, I switched to a Certifiable APA, a nice, sessionable American Pale Ale that also checks in under 5%. It’s slightly hoppy, without being a total hop bomb — great for a warm day in the sun!

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And before heading out to the ballpark, I’m buttchugging this Flippin’ Bats Lager, a Mexican-style (don’t call it Corona) 3.8% brew. Go Cubs Go, bro!!!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: I survived Jeppson’s Malort!!!

Ever had a Chicago handshake, bro? It’s when you do a shot of Jeppson’s Malort, chased with a can of Heileman’s Old Style. And after the Cubs beat Pittsburgh 21-0, I partook in this Chicago tradition at nearby watering hole Murphy’s Bleachers.

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Now, Jeppson’s Malort has a reputation that precedes it, with people saying that it tastes like burning hair, earwax, and lots of other not-so-good things. I first heard about this terrible concoction several years back…so now that I’m here in Chicago, naturally I had to try it.

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Maybe it was because I was preparing myself for it to taste terrible…but I found that it wasn’t as bad as they say. Don’t get me wrong, it burns like straight fire going down, with a little bit of spice…but it did NOT make me toss my cookies or anything. Just like harkarl, the Icelandic rotten shark that freaked everyone out, I found that Malort was not nearly as bad as they say. With that said, I do not see any need to drink it ever again. ;P

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The second part of the Chicago handshake is Old Style, a classic local lager that was around the second-last time the Cubs won the World Series. Mind you, I think I’d rather have another shot of Malort than drink another one of these watery beers, bro… Let’s just say if you’ve had Kokanee, you’ve basically had Old Style before.

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