Make no little plans. Daniel Burnham
Delight takes root. Ideals grow and magnify ambition. For some of us, the subsequent journey is best informed by those who were born to inherit the future. I am talking: fearless youth.
I know two such folks who work me into an optimistic frenzy. In seven years of marriage, they have harvested their quaint roots for use in a splendid city salad.
When we visit our Chicago guides, we relax in knowing that our old fashion criteria of a good time will be surpassed by the results of their urban research. We find that “Paris on the Prairie” (Chicago reference to the 1909 Plan) is hopping with exuberance.
They have introduced us to Bucktown, a Chicago neighborhood, settled in the 19th century by Polish immigrants. The area is now hip home to galleries, boutiques and a dining standout – Antique Taco.
Ashley and Rick Ortiz, owners of Antique Taco, are idealists. They have the lines to prove the value of such mental gymnastics. “I think for us, we wanted Antique Taco to be an extension of our home. We wanted people to feel like they are dining at a friend or family member’s house,” says Ashley.
Beam me up, back to the future. I crave that kind of old world, creative intellect – ambiance of wonder, exceptional food and good manners. Such a vibe lingers with a customer and makes a body want more.
As Eric Weiner, author of Man Seeks God, states, “I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breath again. It turns out these destination have a name: THIN places.”
In the case of Antique Taco, Rick’s heritage lends thin: Corn OFF the Cob Salad, Habanero Popcorn, Chili Cheese Curds, Meatball and Mole, Rosemary Margaritas, Masa Biscuit & Lobster Gravy, and Tacos of the Mushroom, Shrimp, Goat or Sweet and Spicy Chicken varieties. Aqua Frescas, House Made Palentas, and Mexican Chocolate Marshmallow House Made Pop Tarts – each dish streaming from the Antique Taco kitchen is an unending perk from Rick’s frequent trips to the market.
In step, Ashley provides a context that also makes for thin – unrepeatable vintage china, cloth napkins, paper straws. She keeps the place stocked with antiques for sale that jog a memory here and perpetuate a reinterpretation there.
“We keep it casual, effortlessly cool and unique,” she says.
Horchata Milkshake – an Antique Taco specialty
Horchata is a term referring to several kinds of traditional beverages made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice barley or tigernuts. As Rick says, “Here you go!”.
White Rice 1 quart
Water 3 quarts
Sweetened Condensed Milk 2/7 ounce cans
Evaporated Milk 1/7 ounce can
Canella (Mexican Cinnamon) 4 sticks
Sliced Almonds 1 cup
Sugar if needed
Vanilla Ice Cream 1 quart
Banana 1 each
Soak rice in water with cracked cinnamon sticks for 2 hours.
Blend mixture with toasted almonds, then strain through fine mesh strainer
Add sweetened and condensed milk.
Check sweetness level, add sugar if needed.
Chill Horchata for 24 hours.
Place 1 cup of Horchata, 2 large scoops of vanilla ice cream and 1 ounce of banana and pulse in blender.
Place a few ice cues in mixture while blending to keep frozen.
Pour into 12 ounce cup and garnish with cinnamon sugar.
1360 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Closed on Monday – No Reservations