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Goat meat in Chicago

Working for Biglaw in Chicago this summer, I'm making this my season of culinary indulgence: Everest, Moto, Green Zebra, Les Nomades, Tru, Alinea, Spring, and Charlie Trotter's are all on the list. (I'm looking forward to the Ulterior Epicure's reviews of some of these places!)

But Chicago is more than just celebrity chefs and cute amuses-bouche. It's also one of the greatest cities in the country for lowbrow food, so if I'm really going to indulge I've got to get out into the neighborhoods and start eating. Tonight, we (Heidi and I) took the orange line el down to 49th and Western to eat at the Birrieria Jalisco, 2462 W. 47th Street. We'd heard they served some pretty good goat.

This is a walk-up-to-the-counter-and-order kind of place, with a menu entirely in Spanish. Our Spanish was pretty rusty -- we didn't understand the menu -- but "birrieria para llevar" sounded good. Goat with something else; what could be better? So we ordered one pound of it.

Of course, what we'd ordered is birrieria to go, but we realized that only after half our order had been packaged up before our eyes. Darn, a whole pound of goat meat and nowhere to go. So, feeling kind of dumb and stupid, we took our food and headed back to the el stop. "We'll take this home, where we can get some spoons!" Every adventure requires some flexibility.

It turns out that we'd ordered a lot more than just a pound of goat meat. When we got home and unpacked everything, there were thick lime wedges, lots of chopped onion and cilantro, a tub of broth, red chiles, a spicy sauce, and some marinated carrots and cauliflower in a little plastic bag. A real feast! (We'd also ordered some horchata to drink).

The short and sweet review of this food goes like this: yum yum yum! As Special Agent Dale Cooper might say, "This is damn fine goat!"

As an aside, the restaurant is in a vibrant Mexican neighborhood that used to be full of Eastern European immigrants. For a while I had even suspected that it might be in the same spot where the old Julia's restaurant used to be, before it closed about a year and a half ago. You could get some great sweet cheese dumplings at Julia's, but if you want any of that stuff now, I suppose you'd have to venture out to one of the last remaining Lithuanian restaurants in Chicago proper, e.g. Seklycia at 2711 W. 71st Street.

We've put that place on our list, too.