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Need Some Help with DF & Acapulco Meals

Your point about too much food is well taken. Coming from an italian/american background, I understand the concept of comida. Traditionally our main meal on Sundays was in that form. However, it’s a luxury that is hard to indulge when you're trying to adapt your schedule to the operating hours of various museums and other tourist venues.

When I refer to lunch in my posts I really mean a very light meal to carry us over until dinner. Also, we would be eating earlier in the day than your typical comida. Our lunch in Teothihuacán would probably be around 1 or 130P and we'd likely have dinner back in DF around 8 or 830P that evening. Bearing your advice however, maybe tortas at La Texcocana would be a better choice than a sit down meal at Las Girasoles on Day 2. It would also give us more time for our ambitious schedule of activities. If you have any suggestions for street food or other light fare that we could work into our itinerary (instead of a big lunch or comida) I would be most grateful.

I posed my question precisely for the sort of input that you've provided. My proposed schedule probably is overly ambitious. Believe it or not, this is actually scaled down from my original plan (I wanted to work in trips to Coyoacan, San Angel & Xochimilco too). Our itinerary is a framework to give some order to our days, but it’s not absolute.

Apr 25, 2008
Drosa in Mexico

Need Some Help with DF & Acapulco Meals

I'll be visiting Mexico City and Acapulco next week. I'm trying to make smart restaurant selections that will wow our taste buds while also being convenient for our itinerary.

Here's the plan so far:

Day 1: Arrive in DF late afternoon (around 3:30P). We're staying at the Galeria Plaza Hotel on Hamburgo Col Juarez in Zona Rosa. We have 8PM dinner reservations that evening at Izote in Polanco. Any thoughts on where we might be able to have a late afternoon snack in the area before dinner? Would it be worthwhile to take the Metro to Merced Market that late in the day? Are there any areas near our hotel with great street food?

Day 2: Tour Alemeda Central & the Zocalo. I thought we'd start the day with breakfast at El Cardenal in the Sheraton Historico Hotel. From there we'd visit the Museo Mural Diego Rivera and then have a snack at Dulceria de Celaya on the way to Catedral Metropolitana. I figured we'd have lunch at Las Girasoles and then see Templo Mayer after that. Next we'd see the Rivera murals at Palacio Nacional and then have a well earned drink at La Terazza at the Majestic Hotel or at La Casa de Las Sirenas. We have fairly early (7PM) dinner reservations at Pujol in Polanco that evening, so we'll have to head back to the hotel by 530P or so. Do you have any thoughts on this plan? Are my food choices close enough to the sights we've chosen? Are there better food choices that we haven't considered? I gave some consideration to La Texcocana (for Tacos) and El Morro (for chocolate & churros), but I'm not sure we can work them into our plans for the day.

Day 3: I'd like to start with breakfast near our hotel or possible near Paseo de la Reforma. From there we could take the Metro to Basilica de Guadalupe and then see the Merced and Senora Mercados. After that we could head to Chapultepec Park and the Anthropology Museum. We'd also like to see the Lenora Carrington exhibit and the famous Voladores. I was thinking we might have late afternoon comida at El Bajio in Polanco and then head to Garabadi Square to see the Mariachis. Does this sound like a reasonable agenda for one day? Any thoughts about food choices near any of these sights? I definitely need a good recommendation for breakfast & snacks.

Day 4: Our big plan for this day is to see Teothihuacán. We could sign up for a tour with Turibus or Bestours or we could catch a bus from Terminal Central del Norte. Any thoughts on which is the best option? We’ll probably have lunch on site at La Gruta (the restaurant in the caverns near the pyramids) unless anyone has a better idea. For dinner that night we were thinking about DO in Polanco (again). Any dinner suggestions closer to our hotel would also be appreciated (we’ve heard good things about Tezka).

We head to Acapulco for Days 5, 6 & 7 of our trip. Our flight is in the afternoon, so we’d appreciate a breakfast recommendation around our hotel for that morning. We are staying at Las Brisas in Acapulco, so our breakfast will be included with the hotel. We are considering Baikal, Ika Tako, Zibu, Madeiras, Becco al Mare, El Olvido, and Casa Nova as dinner options. We also need suggestions for casual lunches. Any input from the board would really be appreciated

You guys always come through for me when I make my travel plans. Thanks in advance for you help.

Apr 25, 2008
Drosa in Mexico

Impossible? Great mid-priced Italian

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned it already, but I would suggest Riccardo Trattoria in Lincoln Park (http://www.riccardotrattoria.com/). I was there recently and had an outstanding meal. The food is definitely a step beyond your traditional checkered table cloth american/Italian cuisine. The chef hails from Milan and his family started the Bice restaurants (NY, LA, CHI). He delivers simple food with amazing flavors that will blow you away. The prices are very reasonable too, entrees range from $14 - $30 with a huge variety of choices. They also have a nice wine list with many decent offerings in the $20-$35 range.

Oct 31, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

A Chicago Chowhounder Reports Back on His Boston/P-Town Trip

Thanks again for all your input. I just wanted to report back on our Boston/P-Town trip. First of all, I can’t say enough about how great your city is. It was easy to get around on the T and everyone was very helpful in providing directions as needed.

We arrived in Boston late morning on Friday. After checking into our hotel and taking a walk in the beautiful Boston Public Gardens nearby, we had lunch at the Parish Café. It was a gorgeous day and the place was hopping. We timed it just right though. We beat the line by a few minutes and were able to eat outside. I had the Flour BLT and my partner had the Alternative tuna melt, which we enjoyed with a couple of draft beers. Both sandwiches were quite good and we were very happy with our choices. We also loved the atmosphere and the eclectic mix of business professionals, students and society mavens.

From there we were off to the new ICA museum followed by a snack at Flour Bakery on Farnsworth. Unfortunately, that location is in the midst of a renovation so the ambience suffered a bit. We had a pot of tea and sampled some of the baked goods. I have to say I wasn’t wowed. Everything was tasty, but nothing was especially notable. It was better than settling for a Starbucks or something equally generic though.

After a brief siesta back at the hotel, we headed out to dinner at Taranta in the North End. We L-O-V-E-D the North End. Disney couldn’t have created a more charming place. We’ve eaten in Italian neighborhoods all over the country (NY, Philly, Pittsburgh, Buffalo) and nothing beats it. Every place was packed and everything smelled delicious.

Although we felt a little crowded at a tiny table against the wall, we loved the food at Taranta. We started with a perfectly fresh caprese salad and then ordered two of the featured entrees (at the waiter’s suggestion). I had the incredibly huge COSTOLETTA DI MAIALE CON CANNA DI ZUCCHERO E ROCOTO - Brined double cut pork chop with a sugar cane – rocoto pepper glaze served with a yucca piatella and a sauté of giant Peruvian Corn, spinach and caramelized onions. I’m generally not a big fan of pork. It’s usually too dry and not very flavorful for me. However, this dish was amazing. My partner had the GNOCCHI DI YUCA AL RAGU’ VERDE STILE SECCO PERUVIANO - Cassava root gnocchi with a slow braised “Chicha de Jora” green lamb ragu and shaved parmesan. While maybe not quite as amazing as the pork, this was an exceptional dish as well. The gnocchi was lighter than most I’ve had and the lamb ragu was very satisfying.

After dinner we wandered the streets a bit longer, taking in more of the North End’s delicious atmosphere. We walked past Mike’s Pastry, but there was a huge line out the door. Even if we could get a table the café was so packed that it didn’t seem like we’d be very comfortable there. Instead, we opted for Modern Pastry which is right across the street from Taranta. It was a great choice. It was crowded, but not nearly the mad house that Mike’s seemed to be. We each had a cannoli, a sfogliatella and an espresso. All three were perfectly executed and the combination was heavenly. It was the perfect ending to our evening.

Saturday morning started with the prix fixe brunch at Acquitaine in the Back Bay. I never would have found this place were it not for a chowhounder’s recommendation. It was very convenient to our hotel and at $9.95 per person it was an amazing value (warm home-made cinnamon bun, Omelette de la maison - Bacon, smoked tomato and Gruyere cheese served with caramelized onion home fries and toast, fresh orange juice and bottomless coffee). It’s a big loft-like space with a bistro atmosphere that was quite cozy on a drizzly Saturday morning..

From there we were off to the MFA followed by lunch at the Gardner Museum. Given the price (I think the admission was $30) I’m not sure I’d return to the MFA, but the Gardner is a real gem. The interior courtyard is striking and the collection is very impressive. The outside café was closed due to the weather, so we ate inside. The space was not remarkable, but the food was pretty good. I had the Cod Cake with cucumber & tarragon salad and my partner had the Thyme & Sweet Onion Quiche with baby lettuce and sherry vinaigrette. Both went very nicely with a glass of chardonnay.

After the Gardner we walked over to Kenmore Square in time to see the crowds filing into Fenway for the Red Sox / Yankees game. It was a great way to experience the ambience of the area without actually going to the game. Although the Yankee fans seemed well represented, the Red Sox fans were mostly good natured and everyone seemed to get along pretty well in the festive atmosphere. That evening we journeyed to Jamaica Plain (via public transportation) for dinner at Ten Tables.

I know TT is a Chowhound favorite and I can definitely see why. It’s a charming space in a delightful neighborhood. JP reminded me a bit of Silver Lake in Los Angeles. We had the four course tasting menu: local tomato Panzanella with boquerones; shallow-poached local Hake with farro, salsa verde and pepper jam; wild Coho Salmon with leeks, tomato, black olive and anchovy butter; and all-natural Coulotte Steak with french lentils, celeriac and mustard cream. It was an amazing meal. Although the ingredients may sound complicated the flavors were simple and subtle. The combinations were all very satisfying. It was a wonderful experience in a very intimate setting.

Sunday morning began with an early breakfast at Union Bar & Grille in the South End. Once again you chowhounders hooked us up. We had the $9.95 Early Riser All Inclusive Brunch Special. I chose the Smoked Salmon Scramble House Cured Salmon with crème fraiche, scallions, homefries & toast. My partner had the B-52 French Toast with orange marmalade and smoked bacon. Both entrees came with cinnamon swirl sour cream coffee cake, fresh squeezed juice and coffee. Like Acquitaine, this was an amazing value. The space is gorgeous and the crowd at that hour was mostly local. We really felt like we were part of the neighborhood. It was a very enjoyable start to our morning.

From there we headed off to the JFK Museum at Columbia Point. It’s in a beautiful space overlooking Boston’s harbor. The museum is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the trip. After that we jumped on the Red Line and headed to MIT in Cambridge. We got off at Kendall Square to check out some of the campus architecture (Gehry’s Stata Center and Saarinen’s chapel & auditorium) and walked from there to the Central Square stop.

Along the way, we had a pretty good piece of pizza (with a thin cracker crust) at MIT’s student center and then stopped at Toscanini’s for ice cream. I have to say this was a bit of a disappointment. The counter help seemed in a hurry to take our order, but they didn’t seem too interested in offering advice on what to try. I’d heard their malted vanilla and grape nut raisin flavors were good, but neither of them was featured that day. I can’t actually recall what I settled on. Whatever it was, it was OK but obviously not especially memorable.

Next, we made a quick detour to Harvard to see Le Corbusier’s amazing visual arts center building and then headed back to our hotel for a well earned nap. We returned to Cambridge that evening for the four course “Chef’s Whim” at Craigie Street Bistrot. I wish I could give you details on what we ate there. It’s not that it wasn’t memorable it’s just that my mind is a little fried from so many great meals back to back. I had a look at CSB’s online menu and some of it looked familiar (Crispy Tempura of Dayboat Cod Cheeks with pickled eggplant, sweet garlic purée, scallion and pickled ramp salsa verde), but most of it didn’t ring any bells. I assume the chef did a lot of improvising. In any case, the food was outstanding. While most of the dishes were perhaps a bit more complicated than what we had at Ten Tables, they all worked well and the flavors and textures were very pleasing to my palate.

For our last Boston breakfast on Monday morning, we headed over to Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe. I loved the old-school diner atmosphere and the communal seating, but the food didn’t blow me away. Perhaps we just made the wrong choice. I’d seen chowhound raves about the Cape Cod cranberry French Toast, so that’s what we chose. It was OK, but not really outstanding. Apparently their turkey hash is really good maybe we should have had that instead.

We caught the afternoon ferry from Boston harbor and made it to P-Town in time for lunch. Our first stop was Townsend Lobster & Seafood (on the Fisherman’s Wharf). Located adjacent to the ferry dock, it couldn’t have been more convenient. It looks like a fish shack from the outside, but you won’t find fresher seafood anywhere (they were hauling in fresh lobsters as we placed our orders). I had a cup of the lobster bisque while my partner had the clam chowder. We each had a delicious lobster roll as well. Everything we tasted was exceptional and contrary to what I had read there was plenty of in-door seating. I can’t imagine returning to P-Town and not going back to Townsend’s.

Our B&B in P-Town offered a pretty nice breakfast which we happily indulged in each morning. For dinner, we went to the Mews, the Lobster Pot and Café Edwige. They were all decent meals if not exceptional. We also rode bikes to Race Point Beach and Truro stopping at Clem & Ursie’s and a deli called the Filling Station along the way.

All in all, we had a wonderful trip which was greatly enhanced by the keen insight and advice from all you Boston Chowhounders. Thanks again for your help and I’d be happy to reciprocate if anyone is planning to visit Chicago.

Sep 28, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

You guys have been awesome. Your input has been really helpful. Based on your suggestions, I've decided to make some revisions to my itinerary. Since Charlie's is closed on Sundays, I've decided to move that breakfast to Monday. Rachel's is closed on Sundays too, so that's out altogether. Based on your input, I've added Union Bar & Grille for the Sunday breakfast.

You guys also correctly pointed out that Trattoria Toscana is not currently open for lunch. As of right now, I'm substituting Petit Robert Bistro for that meal. I realize that it's further out of the way which means that we may not make it to the Gardner in the afternoon. We may just poke around Kenmore Sq and see Fenway Park instead and then take a leisurely stroll back to the hotel by way of Newbury or Commonwealth ave. If you guys have alternate suggestions for lunch around the MFA, I would definitely consider them. I'm sure the restaurant at the MFA is more than decent, but my preference would be for something with more local flavor.

The concensus here seems to be that Neptune or B&G are the best options for Lobster Rolls. With that in mind, I'm adding B&G as the Sunday Lunch after JFK before heading to Cambridge. That will also give us a chance to go back to the hotel and freshen up.

As I was calling to confirm reservations, I was bummed to learn that O Cantinho is closed on Sundays. That means I need a new rec for dinner in Cambridge Sun night. Is Atasca open on Sundays? I was also considering Oleana or Craige St Bistro. Do you guys have any other thoughts or suggestions? Depending on where we end up, I may also substitue Toscanini's instead of Christina's for Ice Cream.

Apparently, the place we're staying in P-Town provides breakfast. And based on what we're paying there we probably should take advantage of it. That leaves us with 3 lunches and 3 dinners. I'm sure we'll be starving when the ferry arrives, so I think Townsend makes the most sense for the 1st lunch.

We haven't mapped out an agenda for P-Town yet. A lot of it depends on the weather. Ideally, I'd like to rent bikes and get to Race Point one day and to Turo another day. We're also considering one of the Whale Watching expeditions. This is actually our 3rd trip to P-Town. We were there in 1988 (shortly after we met) and we went again around 1994 (I think). My memory is fuzzy but the 2nd trip coincided with Hurricane Bob and possibly the fall of the Berlin Wall. Anyway, we visited the Lobster Pot on both occasions and also spent time at Spritus Pizza. We'd be happy to go back to either place again, but we also wanted to expand our horizons a bit. I'm thinking Napi's, Red Inn and Ross Grill for dinner and Townsend, Clem & Ursies and Noreens or Cape Tip for lunch.

I also wanted to answer back regarding the comments about my lack of spontaneity. I admit to being a bit anal about advance planning. I do like to go in with a game plan to give some structure to our days. Although we don't always stick to the plan, it does keep us focused. As it pertains to Chowhound, it also helps us avoid making lazy dining choices. We love to eat (we're both east coast italian americans) and food is a big part of our travel experience. We've used Chowhound to plan similar trips to LA, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Montreal and it has been invaluable. When we travel we try to see any many sights as possible, but it's always the meals that we seem to remember best.

Once again, thanks for all of your well considered suggestions. I would be happy to return the favor to anyone headed to Chicago. I'll also gladly report back to let you know how our trip turned out.

Sep 05, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

My other choice for lunch in Cambridge was Alive & Kicking Lobsters. It's a bit further away from Harvard though. I'm really after a good Lobster Roll. I know about B&G and Neptune, but I couldn't make either of those places work in my itinerary.

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

We're definitely planning to rent bikes. I want to bike to Race Point and Turo. We'll definitely checkout Tips n Tops

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

I was hoping to squeeze in visits to Harvard and MIT while we're in Cambridge. I was thinking we'd do Harvard after lunch at Charlie's Kitchen and then take the T back to Kendal Sq or Central Sq to see MIT (we're big architecture fans) before dinner at O Cantinho. I debated about Toscanini's but I needed something closer to our dinner location. Is there anything comparable to O Cantinho for Portugese food near Harvard Sq?

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

I chose Ten Tables partially because it's off the beaten path. We love exploring a variety of neighborhoods when we travel. I also like the fact that it's chef owned and really focused on the food more than amenities. It's also the only place I've booked a reservation so far. I read that it's tough to get into (especially on weekends), so I wanted to get it booked asap.

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

I chose Aquitane mostly because of the prix fixe brunch on Sat. Do they offer it on Sun as well? Should I switch Rachel's Kitchen to Sun and do Charlie's on Mon? I was also considering Staphanie's on Newbury as another possibility for breakfast. Am I missing any other worthwhile options?

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Chowhound - Check my work

I will be visiting Boston & Cape Cod with my partner next week. We're looking for unique food experiences as part of our trip. Here is our proposed itinerary, please let us know your thoughts:

Fri 9/14:
11:30A Arrive at Hotel (Near Arlington Station on Geen Line)
12:30P Lunch at Parish Cafe
2:30P Visit Institute of Contemporary Art
4:30P Snack at Flour Bakery
5:30P Return to Hotel
7:30P Dinner at Taranta in North End
9:00P Dessert at Modern Pastry, Mike's or Maria's

Sat 9/15:
10A Breakfast at Aquitaine Restaurant
11A Visit Museum of Fine Art
1:30P Lunch at Trattoria Toscana
2:30P Visit Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
5:00P Return to Hotel
7:30P Dinner at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain

Sun 9/16:
10A Breakfast at Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
11:30A Visit to JFK Library/Museum
2:00P Return to Hotel
3:30P Lunch at Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge
7:30P Dinner at O Cantinho
9:00P Ice Cream at Christina's

Mon 9/17
9:00A Breakfast at Rachel's Kitchen
1:00P Ferry to P-Town
3:00P Lunch at Townsned Pier (Lobster Bisque)
4:00P Check in at Hotel on Bradford St
8:00P Dinner at Napi's

Tue & Wed
Need Breakfast Lunch & Dinner recs. Have heard good things about Clem & Ursie, Fanzini's, The Mews, Wicked Oysters, Angel Foods in P-Town and Terra Luna, Noreen's and Cape Tip Fish & Lobster in Turo.

Any input about our choices or suggestions about alternatives would be appreciated.

Sep 03, 2007
Drosa in Greater Boston Area

Advice About Schwa

Schwa is unlike any restaurant of its caliber. It's all about the food there. The staff's expertise is definitely "back of the house". In between serving courses and bussing tables these guys are stirring sauces and culling ingredients in the kitchen. You will get more than adequate table service, but it won't be on a par with Tru or Alinea where a whole team of waiters is available to meet your every need.

Likewise, the whole reservation process is secondary to the food. From my experience, you will probably get an answering machine whenever you call. I would suggest providing them with several prospective dates for your reservation and asking them to call back with availabilities. They may not get back to you immediately, but you will hear from them. They usually don't accept reservations more than a month in advance and weekends get booked very quickly. Your best bet is to ask for a mid-week reservation 4-6 weeks in advance. I would also suggest providing them with a cell phone number where they're likely to reach you without having to resort to continual phone tag.

I know it seems like a lot of hoops to jump through, but you have to remember that this is an entirely different experience than Tru or Alinea. This is more like going to someone's house and having them cook for you. The food is amazing, but it's very casual and laid back. It's a unique concept and it's certainly not for everyone. I also have a feeling that it may not last much longer. Eventually chef Carlson will move on to a bigger place with a liquor license and all the bells & whistles you'd expect for this type of cuisine. I’m guessing It will also be a lot more expensive. When that happens you can bet there will be a lot of wistful reminiscing on Chowhound about the "old Schwa".

Aug 21, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

Advice About Schwa

I finally got in to Schwa last week. Admittedly, it was a bit of an ordeal to get a reservation, but I can tell you that it was definitely worth the wait. As i recall, the 4-course was around $45 or $50 and I believe the 9-course is $105. My advice is to go for the 9-course menu.

When you consider the quality of the food and the creativity of the preparation and presentation the 9-course menu is an exceptional value. I've been to most of Chicago's best restaurants (Alinea, Tru, Trio, Ambria, Everest, Trotters, Blackbird, Spiagia) and Schwa ranks right up there with my most memorable meals. Chef Carlson is doing wonderfully creative stuff and you really should experience the full scope of his work. The portions seemed just right to me. I didn't leave there feeling stuffed and I certainly didn't leave hungry.

Regarding the wine, my suggestion is to download the menu online and then go to a knowledgeable wine store and ask for their input. I went to Binny's on Clark St in Lakeview and got two great recommendations for our meal. One word of caution though, I would suggest waiting until the last possible moment to download the menu. My reservation was on a Saturday evening and I had downloaded the menu earlier in the week. I got there only to discover that the menu had changed as of the pervious day. As it turned out it wasn't a major ordeal. The wines we brought still worked nicely with the new menu.

Aug 20, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

Need Wine Help for Schwa

As you may know, it can be difficult to speak with an actual person there. I did leave a message asking for confirmation of my reservation and requesting wine suggestions. I was not home when the call was returned. The reservation was confirmed but no wine suggestions were provided.

Aug 09, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

Need Wine Help for Schwa

Do you have any particular favorites? I'm open to anything, but I'd prefer to stay in the $30 and under range.

Aug 09, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

Need Wine Help for Schwa

I finally scored a reservation for Schwa. Now I need some help with a wine recommendation.

It appears that the current nine course menu skews toward vegetarian: eggplant (red pepper, san simon), sunchoke (orange, allspice), quail egg ravioli (ricotta, brown butter, parmigiano reggianno), parfait (quince, celery root, pink peppercorn), risotto (savory, peach), seitan (pomegranate, turnips, queso de valdeon), tofu (persimmons, chestnut), cheese.

With all the citrus and savories, I'm guessing that I should bring a white wine. But I really have no idea. Has anyone tried this menu yet? Any thoughts on some wine choices that worked or didn't work? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks for your help and I'll be happy to report back.

Aug 09, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area

What's the deal with Schwa?

Can anyone give me some insight about this place? I've been trying to get a reservation at Schwa for at least two months. I started calling in April to book a late July reservation. The 1st few times I called, I was advised that they were not taking reservations that far our. When I called again I was told they will be closed all of July. As of mid June I've gotten an answering machine everytime I've called.

When I left a message asking for an 8/3 reservation they answered back 2 days later, leaving a message telling me they will not open until 8/4. When I left another message asking for the 8/4 date, they called back 2 days later with another message telling me that date was all booked up. I subsequently left another message requesting any of six dates in August and have yet to hear back from them.

Why is this so difficult? Is it too much to expect to speak with a real person when you call during normal business hours? Is the food and the experience worth all of this work?

Jun 18, 2007
Drosa in Chicago Area