Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Chicago Dining World Tour: A is for Argentina

The other day I had an idea.

One that someone with more initiative than I could probably develop into something a good bit more substantive, whether a dedicated blog, a YouTube series, newspaper articles, a Meetup group or whatever.

Have at it.

The idea is this: On a regular basis—perhaps once per week but maybe just once a month—I will eat at a restaurant in the Chicago area representing a different country, ethnicity or cuisine. And without intending to post full-fledged restaurant reviews, I will likely recap many of these dining experiences on Seth Saith.

Yeah, I know, it’s not that spectacular an idea and someone has probably done it before. And even without trying to embark on a Chicago Dining World Tour, I rather routinely eat at Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Cajun restaurants.

Within the past few years, I have also visited local places serving Afghan, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Polish, Greek, Persian/Mediterranean, Bosnian/Serbian, Peruvian, Lebanese, Indonesian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Vietnamese and Spanish food. And I’ve sampled other ethnicities at Taste of Chicago, which has led to me going to the restaurants themselves.

But it dawned on me that in the great melting pot that is Chicago, there are numerous other cultures represented in restaurants that I should try. Without yet delving too deep into research, I’ve discovered (on the internet) local places that serve Guatamalan, Belizean, Austrian, Venezuelan, Lithuanian, Belgian, Costa Rican, Moroccan, Romanian, Filipino food and beyond, plus other not so exotic cuisines like French, German and Korean.

So I should have no problem readily finding somewhere new—in local and global terms, simultaneously—to try, and while keeping an eye on sensible cost outlay and caloric intake, that’s what I intend to do.

Though I mentioned my idea to family and friends who expressed interest in accompanying some of my flavorful explorations—please be in touch if you would like to—I didn’t know when, where or with whom I would begin my world tour of Chicago restaurants.

But on Sunday, I made plans to meet my friend Dave for a movie at the Music Box—we saw Sister, a movie from Switzerland made in French; it was pretty good—and in discussing where to meet for lunch beforehand, he suggested Tango Sur, an Argentinean restaurant just up the street to which I had never been.

Tango Sur
3763 N. Southport, Chicago
(773) 477-5466

At 12:30 on a Sunday, Dave and I were the only patrons in the older storefront section (there are two), so as you’d hope, the service was pretty good. The prices for entrees were generally about $15 and up, a bit more than I wanted to spend for lunch, especially in trying to diet.

So I stuck to the appetizer section of the menu and got two empanadas—one with ground beef, one with spinach & cheese, both very good—and a Tortilla de Papa, something of an egg soufflé or omelette with potatoes and onions (shown below). I only ate about half of it; it tasted fine but was a bit dry and not something I’d likely order again.

Dave went with the Churrasco—a 12-oz. sirloin that a friend had recommended—and reported it to be quite good. Perhaps I should have ordered that for myself.

I noted a few other items on the menu that I might order, likely more so for dinner. We were offered the opportunity to see the dessert tray, but this point, no pie for me Argentina.

The décor at Tango Sur—including a map of South American, a display of record albums by (presumably) Argentinean artists and a pretty cool illustration taking up a full wall (shown below)—was appealing in a kitschy sort of way, and albeit without any other customers, the ambience was quite comfortable.

I am not necessarily looking to explore countries/cultures in alphabetical order, but Tango Sur turned out to be “A” good way to begin my gastroethnic journey.

On the right occasion, I wouldn’t be opposed to going back, but for now I look forward to traveling on to another international destination in the Chicagoland area.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions—or interest in joining me, somewhere close at hand but with a worldly flavor.

Because my idea for a Chicago marketing piece has a slogan that seems rather apt, I'll gratuitously include it here:

Concept, design and slogan © 2012 Seth Arkin, all rights reserved

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