Wanted to drop this onto the Paris board for anyone travelling there in the near future.
I booked a market tour through Context Travel that was absolutely fantastic. If you're a food lover coming in from outside Paris, it was a great way to see and taste how a lot of Parisians eat.
Our guide, Paris by Mouth's Meg Zimbeck, met us at a park in the 12th and we walked over to the huge Beauveau market on Rue d'Aligre. We bought bread at an organic boulangerie (Le Pain au Naturel) and talked about the recent history of baguettes and trends in baking. From there we went to an absolutely fantastic fromager (Philippe Langlet) for a variety of cheeses, including a chevre from 6-day old milk that was like nothing we could get in the States. We walked through the farmer stalls and picked out fruit and indoors to check out the poultry and charcuterie shops. All the while, Zimbeck walked us through how the average Parisian approaches day to day shopping and what's on their palate.
We circled back to the park and spread out quite a picnic onto one of the concrete ping pong tables. Zimbeck did an excellent job of walking us through the different cheeses, noting where and how they were produced and provoking a good discussion about what we as a group did and didn't like. The salami and rillettes of both pork and chicken were just outstanding.
It made us think. It made us eat. I can't imagine a better way to tour Paris.
The tour: http://www.contexttravel.com/city/Par...
You could do Smoque as well.
Get off at the Irving Park stop. It's two blocks away at 3800 N. Pulaski.
Let me second Casey's.
I've been extremely happy with the quality of meat that I've gotten from there. Whether it's grill fare (very good sausages, ground beef, filets and london broil), specialty cuts (boston butt for the smoker or short ribs for braising) or their prepared stuff (I've picked up marinated flank steaks for some short-notice grilling and they were fantastic), I've always been happy.
I appreciate it when a butcher asks me questions to help guide him (what are you using it for? Do you need the fat cap on or off? Have you tried X cut as well if you're cooking it that way?). The staff is always friendly.
If you're in the southwest suburbs, it's sooooo worth making the trip over. They're right on the tracks in Western Springs. As a bonus, they're a couple of doors down from a great fresh produce store, too.
My wife and I went for the first time over the weekend. It was spectacular.
First, I'll get my nitpik out of the way: I liked the sauce but I didn't love it. This is purely a matter of preference. Where I grew up (in the south), sauce inspired religious kinds of arguments, but I prefer a little sweeter sauce.
Now for the good stuff:
-- The pulled pork was fantastic.
It's a simple menu and everything on it is done well.
I drove from the other side of town to eat there. I might drive from the other side of the state.