Sun-Times + Reader: Ethnic + Cheap, Ethnic + Cheap, Ethnic + Cheap, And One That’s Neither

Reviews galore on this, the very last Friday of our employ. Oh yes, it’s true; Independence Day will take on a myriad of meanings this year. (Don’t worry! We’re not abandoning our post for anything less lofty than post-graduate education, with the goal of yet increasing our insufferability.)

But enough about us; Mike Sula, David Hammond, and Pat Bruno have things to say about Pho Xua, Lincoln Korean Restaurant, Taqueria La Oaxaqueña, Ecuador Restaurant, L.2O, and Veerasway, respectively. They will soldier on, sowing the seeds of restaurant knowledge in the rich soils of their Chicagoland readership, whether we’re here to criticize them or not. So let’s get to it.

While much of the Reader is devoted to Best Of Chicago 2008 this week, there’s still an Omnivorous, containing some of Mike Sula and David Hammond’s favorite cheap ethnic eats.

Sula shouts out Pho Xua as an alternative to the hegemonic Hai Yen on Argyle Street, and is down with their Chinese-influenced, house-braised pork belly. He finds unusual accessibility at Lincoln Korean Restaurant on…Lincoln, of course, although actually, only 40% of the restaurants in our database with the word “Lincoln” in the name are actually on Lincoln Avenue — the rest are in Lincoln Park. We’re escaping our point, though which is that Lincoln Korean has all the authenticity of those Lawrence Avenue no-English DIY places, but with the straightforward ordering process of, say, a Korean restaurant in…Lincoln Park. Finally, Taqueria la Oaxaqueña serves the fine cuisine of Oaxaca (i.e. mole, on rabbit no less!) at truly Mexican prices.

Hammond tell us that Restaurant Ecuador in Logan Square dabbles more in the country’s coastal culinary tradition than that of the interior highlands. You can get black clam ceviche there, which is really all you need to know.

Bruno has a two-fer in the Sun-Times today, slobbering all over L.2O — he has good company in this respect — but coming in fourth, doesn’t bring much new information to the table. Actually, not true! He’s included a glossary of fancy words on L.2O’s menu that we can’t say we didn’t enjoy reading. However, we must take issue with Bruno’s theory that L.2O has “what is probably the shortest restaurant name ever;” on the North Side alone one can find Tut, Zia and Zad, and T’s puts them all to shame.

Bruno also visits upscale Indian fusion spot Veerasway, which doesn’t seem to…resolve its station in life to satisfaction. Like, why is the mutter paneer $14 when it’s just peas and cheese? Then again, Bruno doesn’t bother telling us how it compares to budget Indian places, so we’re not really sure what to make of his judgment in this case. Speaking of, possibly our final pet peeve about Bruno’s reviewing style is that he never writes a conclusion to his pieces. They end with the dessert, to be sure, but there’s no tying together of the various strains of opinion littered throughout the reviews; the reader needs to have a takeaway, and Bruno never provides a succinct one. This is probably due to the fact that his reviews lack a thesis, generally. Pat, we have no idea if you’ve ever read any of this, but all we want to do is help!

Okay, have a good weekend; next week, daily teary goodbyes…

Taqueria La Oaxaquena [MenuPages]
L.2O [MenuPages]
L.2O [Official Site]
Veerasway [MenuPages]

[Photo: grilled cactus at Taqueria la Oaxaqueña, via ohtoberich/flickr]


Sun-Times + Reader: Ethnic + Cheap, Ethnic + Cheap, Ethnic + Cheap, And One