Friday, August 9, 2013


If any of my readers are within driving distance of Chicagoland, specifically Countryside, IL, 55th and La Grange Road or Western Springs  there is a restaurant  I found thanks to Og's recommendation that has the best Carne Asada in the state.

Cafe Salsa.
It's about the same drive distance for most of us, so several gun bloggers in Northern Indiana who are also fast friends,  have met there for a little food and fun.

From the street, it's not any different than most of the local places and I likely would have driven past it and not stopped.  The first time I ate there, we arrived about 3 PM, having skipped lunch, so though the bar area with casual seating was quite busy, the beautifully decorated main dining room wasn't and the service was quick.  I have to agree with with the review I got -

BEST Carne Asada I've had in ten years.

That first visit we ordered off the dinner menu and I got the dinner combo which wasn't even the full serving of steak , even though it filled my plate, as it came with a huge enchilada on a big side plate as well as a Crocodile Dundee sized knife.  If you want something a little different than rice with a spicy/sweet ranchero sauce and  several choices of beans, some of the other sides include garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed veggies and spicy chipotle/wild mushroom salsa you get if you order the ribeye.
The  Carne Asada dinners or combos will run you about $14 to $20  dollars per person (the more expensive one is stuffed with BACON, mushrooms and two kinds of onion). I would gladly pay that again for this meal. It was a huge platter which included chunky and freshly made salsa and chips  (freshly made, not premade and nuked), sides and fresh greens, plus fresh corn and/or flour tortillas.  It's not on the menu, but if you ask, they will bring you a plate of grilled whole jalapenos for just a couple of bucks, with a smile.

We've been back for lunch and had the same great service, with the manager stopping by the table to make sure we were taken care of.  The last lunch visit, I tried the lunch carne asada burrito, stuffed with chunks of marinated steak, beans, sour cream, and  fresh pica de gallo,  covered in a spicy sauce with beans and rice.  Under $10 for the whole meal.  There's no "fast casual" Mexican food chains  that even comes close to a burrito this good for the price.
More recently, the bunch met up there for dinner, to celebrate several things, one of which was my getting rid of the walking boot for the stress fracture,  then over to the Range on everyone's way home for further socializing.  (And the walking boot makes a DANDY pinata though I'd recommend whacking it with a stick as opposed to large caliber, unless living in a rural area).

Pictured below is the appetizer quesidilla that Oglette (who I was lucky enough to sit by) had that evening. 
This young lady fences sabre, and VERY well. There are three basic discipliones, saber, foil, and epee. Foil and epee have little buttons at the tips of the blades- the button touches, you score a touch. (Touche') Sabre is MUCH more demanding, physically, and it also allows you to smack your opponent wiht the blade of the weapon (woot!) A metallic jacket called a "Lame" is worn over the jacket-and-breeches, so as to be able to electronically score the fencers. I'm actually very proud of her but also slightly pissed because when I was that age, all we got to do for after school sports was wear red unishorts monkey suits to bounce a basketball around the court or run track. With red hair and hormones I'd have LOVED to smack someone with a sabre.

And for you young men out there wondering. Yes, she is as stunning as her mother. She is also an only child and her Father is Og. Enough said.

It was fun, catching up, as work and life have been such we've not all sat down as a complete group  in a few months.
The restaurant handled a large table of us with nary a hitch, the chips, salsa and tortillas continuing to flow without asking. The food, as always was great, as was this time with friends who are like family. So if any of you are within driving distance of the Western Chicago suburbs, it's worth a stop.

OK, now I'm hungry and all that's in my bag is a granola bar. . .


  1. Wow that looks so good, our Mexican restaurant doesn't cook like that for sure. Now you have given me a craving, dang! In the middle of nowhere and no Mexican food in the house, not even a chip.

  2. Dang! that looks good. And - of course - thousands of miles away.

    I'll have to do a post about a place up here, I guess, just to get even. :)

  3. I didn't know that people in Illinois even knew what a tortilla was much less what to do with one.

  4. I love it. "Meat the day!" Carpe Carne would be good too- "Seize the Meat". Maybe a little easy to misunderestimate. Then theres "Vaya Con Carne"

  5. Sunnybrook Farm - Most of the Mexican food in Indiana is pretty Americanized, so this was a nice find.

    Rev Paul - I ended up having one of those little individual size boxes of Rice Crispies for dinner so. . yeah.

    DaddyHawk - Chicagoland has a fairly large Hispanic population, many with thriving businesses, including a manufacturer of some of the best grocery store tortillas in the country. It's interesting though, you don't see the Mexican flag waving on everyone's car and business. It's the Stars and Stripes. My grandparents immigrated and embraced this place. I like that.

  6. This place is only about 20 minutes from my house. About the same distance as Irish Times. We will be making a trek there to try it out soon.

  7. I couldn't believe it when I saw the picture. That's a 10 minute drive from my house! Never been in there, though. Not generally a fan of Mexican food. No, it's not a political thing at all, I just don't like the spices.

    If you're coming by this neighborhood again I can make some local recommendations. Ever been to the Kerry Piper?

    Daddy Hawk, are you kidding? Let's just say that there are 10,000's of people within a 30 minute driving time of that restaurant who speak Spanish, not English, as their native language.

  8. "Within driving distance" bet, a couple of days worth!



  9. Oh... just too dang far away... But probably better for my diet that it's not close!

  10. The Chicago area has the best pizza, Mexican and polish food anywhere. The pictures have me drooling. If you care to stay on the hoosier side of the line, you can check out Casa Blanca in Whiting. I do miss real Mexican food. Take care and enjoy the weekend.

  11. Chip - I've not been back to the Irish Times since they had "meet Santa in the Irish Bar" and the place was full of Mom's and prams and then a train load of drunk football fans showed up. We got out before being trampled, but it was less than an enjoyable meal.

    Ron F - No - Cafe Salsa is it for that area, though further West and slightly North we've done the tenderloin and roast duck at Bohemia Crystal several times.

    idahobob - I'm lucky it's not on the corner or I'd be needing my own zip code.

    Old NFO - dinner was a small bowl of Rice Crispies, so yeah, I understand.

    RichD - Your big brother I think has been to the all you can eat Polish buffet that we finally tried with the gang (though he couldn't join us) THAT was awesome.

  12. Yeah, the Warsaw Inn has the best polish food around. It was always a treat going there. I haven't been there in years. Perogis are a favorite of mine, and you can't beat the ones they serve. I pick up a cooler full from the Griffith meat market when I visit up there at Christmas time. My supply is running low. Going to have to get a bigger freezer, and a bigger cooler to transport :)

  13. And to think I was excited that the nearest burg south of where I live just got a Chipotle.


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