23 January 2010


Four-year old LG has been invited to sleepover at the effervescent Sophie's house/condo in Chicago, and realistically will need some moral support... I volunteer, and on Saturday morning we take the commuter train into the city. We are armed with warm jackets, scarves, gloves, hats, and backpacks. Prepared for everything and on an adventure.

LG discovers train travel isn't near as exciting as it seemed, especially on a Saturday train that makes EIGHTEEN stops! She delights in the station--Ogilvie Center--and her sense of adventure is renewed.

We walk from Canal and Madison north to Washington Street, east to Wacker and around the curve in the Chicago River to the LaSalle Street Bridge. LG has found a stick and is determined to drop it over the side of the bridge and into the river. There are no signs prohibiting, so I say, "Go for it." After about 30 minutes--we are meandering as well as walking--we arrive at 118 W. Kinzie and Mercadito. Yep! I've managed to return to my newest, favorite restaurant in just two weeks.

We are early and the restaurant is not crowded, so it's a relaxing wait for L+E and Sophie to join us. Relaxing for me, especially, because I am enjoying a Margarita! They do them so well.
margarita tradicional
tequila blanco, grand marnier,
fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar

We order dessert pancakes (LG insists on calling all pancakes flapjacks like we just rolled in from the cattle drive.) for LG and Sophie:
pancakes $12.
manchego cheese, strawberries, cinnamon butter, maple syrup

And, start off the adult portion of the meal with three gaucamoles:
tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeño, garlic,vkey lime, cilantro
jícama, chipotle, pico de gallo
apple, tomatillo, almonds, habanero

You can't beat the tradicional, and the chips are to-die-for.

L+G spend some time on the menu and eventually order two entrees to share:
chile relleno
roasted poblano, scrambled eggs,
bacon, queso fresco, caramelized onion,
black bean purée, chile de árbol salsa
(four small tacos per order, with home made corn tortillas)
chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple,
chile de árbol salsa

I can't resist repeating the steak tacos CA and I had on our first visit.
rosemary marinated organic skirt steak,
potato-rajas-cactus fundido, avocado

When L+E first arrived at the restaurant, I bragged that the food at Mercadito was the best food I'd had in my mouth for quite awhile. At the end of the meal, EG reiterated my comments. A very fine meal.

We veg out at L+E's for the rest of the afternoon while the little girls play dress up, ice skating, shadow puppets, etc., and finish off their evening with Nanny McPhee. We settle them into Sophie's room and finish off the evening with Charlie Wilson's War.

About 2:00am LG joins me in my bed. I wipe away her tears and she cuddles, warmly, close to me and is immediately asleep. Sweet.

On Sunday a.m. LG mixes up a batch of wonderful multi-grain pancakes, and EG fries up some yummy bacon. We rhapsodize over the merits of pork as we linger over coffee.

The little girls continue their play until time to load us into the Subaru. We spend a bit of time at the newer Whole Fields near North Avenue buying pasta, bread, and Daffodils. EG makes a successful dash to the Jefferson Park station (after missing the Clybourn and Irving Park trains), and by 2:48pm LG and I are on our way home.

We had a great sleepover and I'm looking forward to my own bed tonight!

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