Downtown Food Diary: Cafecito, Flaco’s Tacos and more

Working downtown has been a great excuse to eat out, though I do try to meal prep and bring lunch when I can. Other days, however, I love to explore the food offerings near my office in Streeterville.

Now that the Chick-fil-A on E. Chicago Ave has officially closed for renovation (what even is this btw? I legitimately thought it was an April Fools joke), here are some of the meals I’ve had in my first few weeks downtown.

Cafecito

TRY: The Cubano ($6)

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This was easily one of the best Cuban sandwiches I’ve ever had. The key elements comprised the moist roasted pork, the warm and crusty bread, and the distinct flavors of the pickle and mustard, which added a sour punch. It may not look pretty, but it’s a humble and delicious sandwich.

TRY: Calde Gallego (16 oz – $4.50) + Potato Salad (small, $3)

This soup is warm and comforting on a chilly day. It’s light, but rich in flavor, swimming with soft collard greens, white beans, some ham and diced potatoes.  And it’s hard to go wrong with potato salad, but I could have done with a larger portion of it.

TRY: Chopped Salad ($6) + Black Bean Soup (8 oz – $2.50)

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This hearty soup is filled with stewed black beans, diced onions and peppers, and served with a lightly toasted sandwich bun perfect for dipping. 

The salad is also chunky and substantial – I could only eat half of it! It’s filled with iceberg lettuce, hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, thinly sliced onion, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, corn kernels, sour and spicy pepperoncinis and olives, all tossed in a tangy herb oil dressing. 

Flaco’s Tacos

While I give the food at Flaco’s Tacos a 7 out of 10, I’m a big fan of the daily specials.

On Tuesdays, they serve a special taco for only $1! It could be anything from a vegan taco filled with spinach and black beans to a cowboy taco made with steak, corn and Chihuahua cheese. Imagine having lunch for less than $5…FullSizeRender (17).jpg

And while I’m an inauthentic piece of shit who asks for flour tortillas, these guys normally serve their tacos in traditional corn tortillas.

On Wednesday’s, they offer a $5 burrito – and the burritos there are quite massive and filling. I finished one in 11 minutes riding back on the L alone by myself one day – don’t ask.

Chowbus

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Earlier this year I started working with Chowbus, a Chicago-based Chinese food delivery app. They deliver authentic Chinese meals in bento boxes all over the Chicagoland area.

Switching scenes to downtown has been glorious because there are many more bento box options deliverable to locations in the city.

On a gross and stormy afternoon, I ordered a bento box of braised tofu with brown sauce, which was stir-fried with bok choy, and came served with a crispy potsticker and a fat portion of rice. Together, the tofu and veggies made for a light and healthy meal that still filled me up.

Get $5 off your first meal!

[Download the app and use my promo code CATTHECRITIC]

foodlife

FullSizeRender (8).jpgTucked away on the second floor of the Water Tower Place shopping center, foodlife is a gamechanger, to say the least. With 14 kitchens offering everything from soup to pasta to sushi to really, really good barbecue, this place has something to satiate every palate.

When you enter the cafeteria, you pick up a red card. You can get whatever you want from any of the kitchen stations, and have everything charged to that magic plastic rectangle. And you pay at the end of your meal.

foodlife is perfect for when your squad can’t agree on what to eat; it has pretty much everything.

The chopped brisket sandwich I had (they had a deal that day; it was $5) could seriously give Blackwood BBQ – one of my favorite BBQ places in Chicago – a run for its money. The portion was generous and the meat itself was flavorful and tender – I paired it with some roasted potato wedges and a cup of lentil soup I clearly did not need. It was more than enough food, but next time I’ll be back to try some more offerings.

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