Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Taylor Street.

Since New Year's Day, I've been staying on Taylor Street, the former heart of Chicago's Little Italy and now a multiethnic and gentrified corridor known for its mix of restaurants and its proximity to the University of Illinois at Chicago. I lived on Taylor Street for a bit more than four months while I was a novice on experiment at St. Ignatius College Prep, and I enjoy returning here whenever I'm in Chicago.

The Christmas lights on these bare trees offer a hint of the charm that makes Taylor Street an enchanting place - even on a frigid, icy winter night like the one on which I took this photo.

In a previous post, I made mention of Chicago's "honorary" street signs. These signs honor a wide variety of people and institutions, but I have yet to encounter one with as long a name as "Honorary 35 Year Teacher Mary Garramone of Riis Elementary School Street."

A few doors down from the St. Ignatius Jesuit Residence, Thai Bowl was a frequent weekend dining destination for me when I lived on Taylor Street. If you like high-quality Thai food served in massive quantities at low prices, this is the place for you.

Named for chef/owner Joël Kazouini, Chez Joël is a Taylor Street restaurant that I sadly have not visited. Every time I come back to Taylor Street, I go by this place and am reminded of my desire to dine there, but the opportunity to actually do so has never quite presented itself. Here's hoping I actually get there at some point.

This photo is here simply because I liked the way these shelves looked in the late-afternoon sun shining through the front window of Gentile's Wine Shop.

Nea Agora Packing Company is a venerable Taylor Street butcher shop - from the way that the phone number is written (HA-1 5130), one can tell that this is an old sign. I've never been inside, but I was intrigued by a Yelp review that says that going to Nea Agora is "like stepping into the movie Moonstruck. Cash only, a few chairs, a refrigerator, a saw, and a cutting board . . . [and] a bunch of old (old!) Italian guys . . . sitting around ordering their lambs for Easter."

Finally, another true Taylor Street institution: Mario's Italian Lemonade, known throughout Chicagoland and beyond for the eponymous product, which matches the description of what most people would probably call Italian ice, and which comes in a variety of flavors beyond lemon. Mario's has no official website - it's not that kind of place - but there is an 'unofficial' website with fan photos as well as a Facebook page. Mario's is only open from May to September, so I didn't get there on this visit - but I hope to go next time I'm in Chicago during the summer. AMDG.


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