Tag Archives: Pilsen

Via Crucis

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It was a particularly interesting and beautifully brutal week of Easter. Large crowds began to line 18th street early the morning of Good Friday, selling crosses made of palms and steaming hot cups of champurrado. Around noon a procession of Roman soldiers walked Jesus to the park, where he was crucified before the thousands assembled.

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I worked Saturday and Sunday with no busser, no food runner, no support whatsoever, doing hundreds of covers, sometimes even needing to run the dish machine, never having enough of anything: we have a lot of work to do for our service! The unexpected moments, like Roly Poly sitting for tacos with Raven, or a mariachi singer just showing up and belting out requests in the middle dining room, brought pleasure along with the pain.

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La Michoacana

La Michoacana pilsen chicago 18th blue island 3rdarm arthur mullen mangonada

The intersection of 18th, Loomis and Blue Island is the perfect place for an ice cream stand, and La Michoacana fits that role like destiny.

La Michoacana pilsen chicago 18th blue island 3rdarm arthur mullen mangonada

The place is brightly lit and clean, but we all know the real reason to go is La Michoacana’s amazing mangonadas (sweet, refreshing, spicy, limey, salty, damn) and liquados… nevermind so many flavors of delicious paletas!

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Mano Derecha

pink sky 5 rabanitos south side chicago pilsen sotelo miguel angel west town tavern 3rdarm

As Chef Alfonso’s right hand man, I started working the weekends as a dishwasher, and pushed harder for 5 Rabanitos social media content. We started listening to my mix of cumbia covers called, “Me Juegas,” every Saturday. Chef decided I would be more valuable as a server, and I integrated with the team on the floor.

pink sky 5 rabanitos south side chicago pilsen sotelo miguel angel west town tavern 3rdarm

Raven and I started spending lots of days in each other’s company. I wanted to show her some of my favorites before I had to move. Together we hit up all the best spots in the old neighborhood for bites: Filipino style breakfast at Uncle Mike’s Place, Cuban medianoche sandwiches at Nini’s, Italian pan pizza at D’Amato’s Bakery, New Mexican chile sauced sopapillas at Flo.

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Rabanitos Style

5 rabanitos alfonso sotelo 3rdarm jamie sotelo pilsen mexican family owned restaurant 3rdarm arthur mullen

The photoshoot I had helped with at Chef Alfonso’s restaurant, when I met the bruja, had been for the Chicago Tribune’s forthcoming review of 5 Rabanitos. I have learned not to get too excited about a restaurant’s first review: when a restaurant opens, that’s when there’s the most room for improvement. First reviews are notorious for nerfing any highlights with a few negatives. #thestruggleisreal, at the least.

5 rabanitos alfonso sotelo 3rdarm jamie sotelo pilsen mexican family owned restaurant 3rdarm arthur mullen

The Chicago Tribune, however, must have LOVED Chef Alfonso’s food at 5 Rabanitos because they published one of the most effusive restaurant reviews ever. The business started to pick up in a big way. Having shed most of my darkness, and with feelings taken root and starting to grow in my heart, I turned towards the shining: I decided to stay in Chicago with Raven Beauty, and lend a hand to my friend Chef Alfonso.

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5 Rabanitos

3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm xoco manager rick bayless 5 rabanitos pilsen alfonso sotelo west town tavern mexican food grilled chicken

5 Rabanitos is a family restaurant with food that is so good it’s worthy of your special occasion. I remember Chef Alfonso Sotelo’s fried chicken every Sunday night at West Town Tavern, and I will never forget his slow-cooked goat caldo at Xoco.

3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm xoco manager rick bayless 5 rabanitos pilsen alfonso sotelo west town tavern mexican food grilled chicken

At his own restaurant in the heart of Pilsen, Chef Alfonso’s food has only gotten more delicious. The signature dish, Grilled Chicken Rabanitos Style, gets a big char flavor from the grill balanced perfectly by a honey garlic marinade. I was physically unable to put my fork down.

3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm xoco manager rick bayless 5 rabanitos pilsen alfonso sotelo west town tavern mexican food grilled chicken

For dessert, I had the perfect pair of a piece banana cream pie and cup of steaming hot cafe de olla, made from Chef’s grandmothers recipe. I want to try so many things on the menu but those dishes were so amazing, it’s going to be tough ordering anything else!

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MLK JR

3rdarm roly poly cat maine coon cat arthur mullen chicago 3rdarm xoco manager rick bayless alfonso sotelo 5 rabanitos

For my 33rd birthday (damn… old) I went to Chef Alfonso’s restaurant. I made the website for the restaurant while in Portugal, and have been running the social media since they opened, but have never been to eat in real life! It was amazing food but even better to hang with my friend Chef Alfonso, one of the greatest chefs I have ever had the honor of working with.

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“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now.” -MLK Jr.

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Grand Burger

nightwood hamburger donut doughnut handmade coconut double cheeseburger brunch chicago 3rdarm

I had a falling out with my hairstylist at Barbara&Barbara over being late. I was 13 minutes late, but had called to say I would be 7 minutes late. Before I could check in the receptionist had to straighten out a hairy-eared hamburger deliveryman whose sack was one short. The stylist refused to cut my hair. I walked out saying I would never be back.

nightwood hamburger donut doughnut handmade coconut double cheeseburger brunch chicago 3rdarm

It wasn’t enough to leave the hair cuttery: I needed a clean break from all of Logan Square and its unpleasant aroma of unprofessionalism. We drove to brunch on the South Side. At Nightwood, we sat by an outdoor fireplace, in the October sun, and I ordered a hamburger of my own. The food runner positioned it in front of me with the words, “Here is your grand burger.”

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