So, after 130 restaurants, WHAT is it that makes a Restaurant a Second Home??

Heart.  There are a thousand restaurants, new ideas, and new spaces every day,  Yet, few go the extra mile and treat customers like you are the only one even when you are surrounded.  Also, when you leave a restaurant, you should carry a piece of that restaurant away with you as well, (I am actually not talking food here for once!)

The most unexpected aspect of visiting so many eateries is learning a piece of the culture of the country you are in, as well as the conversation that you can become involved in, if you are lucky to be in such an establishment.  So the makes the choice of best restaurants actually rather easy!

In the states, hands down, The Over Grinder.  I remember the personal touch, the attention to me as a customer, and I waited 2 hours to get in, and still, this was an amazing amazing experience due to the people, the food the climate, the conversation, the attention to you, and if you can do that after 2 1/2 hours – absolutely no contest.  See my writeup below:

#76 Oven Grinder 2121 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614 773-248-2570

GET HERE EARLY, like 3:00- 4:00 if possible! I arrived, 7:00 PM – Okay, I did get here a little before 5:00 PM and I waited and came in at 6:45 PM, with a long wait visible but I know this was worth the wait based on the recommendation Sharon gave me. I mentioned Geno’s was the place to eat and she took me by surprise and said, “Harry! Ohmygosh, you need to try OvenGrinder!” I laughed at the sound but then decided that okay, I am game! Finally, on a Saturday where none of my conference workshops worked out, I tried OvenGrinders – and as I am sitting here, I ordered the Pot Pie pizza, as well as the Mediterranean Brad and Chef’s salad. I was told to mix the Poppyseed and Garlic dressings, and the waiter, Brandon, WAAAY cool waiter, friendly and just very welcoming. Although that my feet, even with the new insoles I bought (lol) are exhausted and worn, with the awesome the smell when I walked in, I immediately knew THIS was worth the wait. When I sat down in the wooded interior, I almost felt like I was within a small pub in Baltimore, it had the same feel. Then a super cool waiter came and I began to tell him where I was from, and we struck up how I knew to get the type of dressing mixed, the bread and the pot pie pizza lol.

The Mediterranean bread came, ohmy GOSH! The smell filled the whole table, covered the whole plate, well look! The ripping off and adding seasoning only exemplified this meal, oh my gosh. But when the salad came, this towering inferno, with the garlic and the Poppyseed,  it was a party in my mouth, MAJOR. Brandon, my waiter, was EXCELLENT. I honestly could not consider him my ‘waiter’, he was an instant friend and amazing with his recommendations and info about the area as well as the tradition behind all of this. But no, the main feature, the main meal, came and the Pizza Pot pie, well look first and then with the mixing of the smells of Pot Pie, the Mediterranean Bread, and the Poppyseed and Garlic dressing, I know I had died and gone to heaven, seriously…

The atmosphere, the AMAZING Italian-style portions, the AMAZING experience, hands down, I have to say this might be, no, it was my BEST dining experience in the states and in Mexico I can ever remember, ever. My stomach was bulging, and the portions I took with me, back, were enough for two more meals, and for $30.00 – this as a MAJOR steal, MAJOR. Add to it the amazing friendliness and awesome service of Brandon, and this is a priceless experience.

My Chicago experience was already a success after this experience, and so will yours after coming here. The parting advice of places to visit involved Rick Bayless – famous – Mexican food, Frontera Fresca at Ohare. I am looking forward to see what these experiences will have, but I know they will not hold a light against the Oven grinder. Sharon – you are a genius!


In Mexico – I have to be on the same category – and overall I remember walking into Delirio and Monica Petino’s daughter, behind the counter, without asking, called me forward and told me she’d explain all I was seeing in front of me, the precedes they like to follow to serve me as the customer and overall, was AMAZING.  All without being asked.  A second restaurant was Gringo Pinche, (also here) and Wok This Way.  Both did the same, they welcomed me while heartedly and that also added believe it or not, to the taste of the food itself.  At Gringo Pinche, the BBQ made me instantly remember the taste and experiences of selling and eating BBQ homestyle, along the roadside with that delicious amazing filling flavor.  Wok This way always welcomes me like I am family, so these three certainly top my list and I found I could pay 500 pesos as the fanciest, well to do restaurant as a status symbol, and still not walk away feeling the way I do from these locations.  🙂  Excited to break 200 restaurants visited by the end of the year – and I learn so much from it aside form discovering new friends.

#104 Gringo Pinche BBQ and here! Cumbres de Maltrata No. 360, Benito Juárez, Narvarte, 03020 Ciudad de México, D.F. 01 55 6389 1129

I can dream of the days and flavors I experienced in Delaware with BBQ pulled pork and BBQ chicken – then there is the unique and welcoming demeanor as well. Overall, this is a place you will literally crawl way from from being so full. Add the service, the ability to see the World Cup and other events, and overall, just turning the corner and seeing this open, unexpected eatery – it is awesome, delicious, and you will become addicted. I think this is the best BBQ in Mexico, and with good reason. Time Out agrees as well.

#57 Wok This Way   Cordoba y Alavaro Obregon

(I love the possible play you can have with WOK, this is one of many!)
Being 4 buildings away from this restaurant, I honestly didn’t know what I was missing! With Julienne hungry for Asian food, and as a guest at my place, we were in search of good Asian food, and yes, we found it. With outside seating, as well as accommodating roughly 8 people inside, the comfy interior and simple arrangement works perfectly with the deliciousness, yet filling nature of the noodles, vegetables, of whatever you would like to choose.

There is a nice display of natural grass along the front, which seems to go with the nature of this restaurant, everything does taste all natural, watching the staff prepare and cook your selection, and the taste fills that empty spot perfectly. Every day I walk past the staff is always friendly and welcoming.  Definitely a great place to get your fill! 🙂

I can’t emphasize enough, they way I feel as a person when I walk in, and walk out, makes the difference.  These restaurants above do an excellent and amazing job at making sure, your  money is not the only defining factor in your experience!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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