Tag Archives: evanston

Steamy Chicago: eating Cuban and afghani food

Back to the USA and steamy weather – it reminded me just how lucky we were with our weather in Europe, which was warm but not muggy or humid. (When I changed planes in London Monday, it had become beastly hot.)

I met my son and stepdaughter, who both work downtown, for lunch at a good Cuban restaurant, Cafecito at 26 E. Congress Pkway (good pressed sandwiches, salads, soup, coffee and loved that it is next door to Chicago’s youth hostel); later visited the farmers market next to the federal building at Jackson and Dearborn where my son’s working (summer internship with a U.S. senator), buying some cherries, raspberries and peaches from vendors with farms in my home state of Michigan.

At night, when I took a wrong train and ended up in Skokie rather than Evanston, my son and I ended up at an excellent Afghani restaurant in Skokie – Kabul House. I had a delicious dish – lamb stew served over sautéed spinach that reminded me a bit of saag paneer.

The Sunday before I left for London (that seems like a long time ago) my aunt took us to several places she’d discovered and we’d never seen before including:

– Prairie Avenue, which has some of Chicago’s oldest homes, and a nice café.

– A hidden new neighborhood just north of the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

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Pain in the neck paying my “unpaid toll” in Illinois

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It took me about an hour to figure out how to pay my 60 cent “unpaid toll” on Interstate 284 online, in part because I couldn’t figure out which of the many interchanges was the specific one that I drove through without paying because I had two untenable choices – the exact change lanes or the i-pass lanes, neither of which I had. My advice in the future: if you do drive through without paying – try to figure out or make a mental note of where you are and the exchange number if possible (I don’t recall one being posted anywhere.) And you have to pay within 7 days or supposedly you are liable for a $20 fine. We had another situation like this on I-88 with unpaid tolls (this time because are only option was NOT to pay since the toll booths were unattended after 10 p.m. or so when we were passing through during our drive from Des Moines) and we got some sort of threatening warning that the third unpaid toll would not be a charm. And this was several years ago (we stopped going on I-88 after Illinois jacked up the tolls so markedly and now we go primarily on toll-free I-80…our tolls last week was because we took toll roads to Oak Park and to Evanston rather than taking toll-free I-55 into Chicago, as usual.)

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Filed under Illinois, interstates

Northwestern University – around and about

We’ve been at Northwestern off and on this weekend to see our son during parents’ weekend and to, alas, watch Iowa lose, narrowly, to Northwestern’s football team. A few finds:

– Not bad sushi at the student union

– Very good hot chocolate and an enormous tuna melt sandwich at Clark’s – an unassuming good-value coffee shop on Clark street near campus. Great place to warm up after you’ve been sitting in the rain and cold watching two teams of young men bang into each other for hours while middle-aged men shout nasty words from the stands.

– We followed Northwestern’s instructions and didn’t bring our car – and were glad of it. The El took us directly, if not swiftly, to Evanston. Free shuttle buses (the buses were labeled “Positive Connections”)  arrived quickly to transport us from campus to the field which was so much smaller than Iowa’s (or Michigan’s) – really a treat. Our seats were in the 11th row so we could see the football game just yards away, up close and personal. It was like being at a high school game.

– Earlier in the trip, we went to Nightwood in the Pilsen neighborhood which alas was disappointing. My $15 hamburger – the least expensive thing on the menu – arrived medium rare (I ordered and was promised rare). I sent it back and the new one was about the same. (At which point, I split it with my brother – who didn’t eat most of his chicken because it was undercooked.) Too bad because there were good things about the place – a very attentive waiter, welcoming ambiance, some good entrees and hors d’oeuvres, tasty deserts (including a free one the waiter brought me as “a gift” because of the hamburger problem.)

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Filed under Chicago, DINING, Illinois