My travel companion and I had a strict list of quintessential Chicago we needed to accomplish: 1. Wrigley Field; 2. Pitch Fork (1 day ticket); 3. Chicago-style steak; 4. Deep-dish pizza; 5. Hot Doug’s. Let’s rewind to starting things off right at the Cubby Bear. We had accomplished a couple of things already; when we arrived at the Cubby Bear we were trying to figure out how the fuck to find the exemplary Chicago Steak. That’s the deal with finding good shit in an unknown place? ASK THE LOCALS. Do you know how many mother-fucking locals write reviews? NONE. So don’t go with a list you made off of some snoody mass website; go with an open mind and a sense of direction.
Argentinian steak. That was our answer. It’s the new Chicago steak. And it is PRIME. Don’t get me wrong here, I asked around – “did my homework” so to speak; four out of five people confirmed: Tango Sur, less than a mile from Wrigley Field The only catch is Chicago does not issue new city liquor licenses so this place is BYOB (beer or booze). But come on, that’s not a catch! That’s delightful! There’s no corking fee and your drunk ass can show up with a 24pk of NattyIce and drink to your hearts content. The other amazing benefit to BYOB is the number of wine, beer, and liquor proprietors that set up shop around popular restaurants to make your dining experience custom. We chose a “Steve Brule recommended” wine, Dexter Lake, at Que Syrah (1 block South).
Well! no corking fee! Let the fun begin! We sat in sunshine and relished in people-watching and letting UV rays steam our .18 bac. The waitstaff is male, young, and Latino; they appreciate mild chit chat and appropriate manners (pleases, thank yous, (and only if you have to) I’m sorry buts…). You say, “I’m here for the steak” and they’ll tell it to you straight. I am a trashy steak-eater: I like no fat and medium well (secretly well well well). In United Statesian steak language this translates to a rib eye medium. They directed me to the bife ancho and my “grisl”-loving companion to the “bife de chorizo”. The steaks were beyond underpriced, cut from the butchery attached to the restaurant, and grilled to perfection.
Our waiter was from Mexico. He had a two (“dos”) kids and lived in Chicago for a couple of years. My companion had studied in Guadalajara so they talked about some Mexico shit and some American shit; made a connection; we got good advice on how to spend the rest of our night. He was very nice and very attentive (the two best qualities in a waiter). The BEST thing we got educated on was this crazy! sauce that accompanied both of our steaks. Chimichirri. Chimi what? Chimifuckingheaven. When good things are good, we rarely ask. This was too good, and we had too. “What is this stuff?” “We put it on everything.” “No. Shit.”
All together we spent 2-3 hours at Tango Sur. Our bill was $34 plus tip and the bottle of wine rounded out at about $70. This dinner would have easily been 3X that at a Chicago-style steak house. Still, to this day, that was the best deal-of-a-dinner either of us have ever had. The only thing that may ever do it a close second is a homegrown steak in Patagonia.
And the embarrassing part of the story is that I kept eating steak, past the point of full, and had to hail a cab a block and a half to the tube because I thought I was going to shit myself. Or vomit. Or both. But I would do it again…
RIGHT NOW! LET’S GO!