Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, this is a go to for Mexican fare. What makes this dive so special is a lot of the ingredients are direct from Mexico grabbed by the owner who visits once a month for their spices and peppers. Cemitas Puebla is known for their sandwiches, or a Cemita, which comes in many types according to the meat stuck inside. Me? I got the Carne Asada Cemita, which true to the hype, is pretty amazing.
I also ordered the queso, which by their standards is just cut up cheese on a plate. I took it as queso dip. No, it literally means bits of cheese on a plate. No need to put any cheese on that cemita though, because it’s already full of cheese. Try some chipotle on that cemita though. It’s very sweet and hardly spicy at all. The red stuff is pretty spicy though.
One of the best things about this place is, despite the special ingredients and great customer service, it’s amazingly inexpensive. A sandwich will run you about 6$ and the tacos a couple of dollars.
Of course they carry many Mexican drinks. I don’t really dabble in that many considering I think some carry medicinal properties, like the malt drinks which apparently if you drink room temperature will engage early menstruation. But they do have my favorite, Grapefruit Jarritos. Waitresses never know what I mean by grapefruit, probably because it’s one of the least talked about citruses and has an odd name considering it’s far from a grape. I can never seem to learn the word “toronja” no matter how many times it’s said. It will never roll off my tongue properly even though the drink goes down just fine.
Being from the south, I feel I am an expert on southern food. It’s hard to get away from it: collard greens, fried chicken, fried fish, fried everything, and corn bread. Big Jones is an upscale southern cooking restaurant, which doesn’t really exist in the south, and if I’m mistaken, and it does, it’s kind of pointless because you can get all these things at any old restaurant in the back woods. But either way, I’m diverging from the point, it’s a beautiful romantic restaurant, candle lit, and white sheets.
Note: This is a horribly awkward place to bring a first date. My date and I (far from our first date) were in the restaurant for two hours, and not by our choice. We had ordered the family style meal, which is probably what made the meal so horribly long. There was about a twenty minute wait between courses, and I even found myself just walking to the bathroom for fun, which I think one was meant to do just that, considering there was a bookshelf full of cooking books in the bathroom. Anyway, unless you’re French, you’ll get super impatient with the long waits.
Oh man, the food, on to the food, it was pretty delish. I especially enjoyed the gumbo with sausage & fish. I could have just had that for the full meal.
The cornbread I was disappointed with. Cracker Barrel does a better job than this, ugh. And the sad part is, cornbread is so easy to make. My grandfather used to make the best when I was younger, so I might be a little picky when it comes to this staple.
The meatloaf/collard greens were pretty tasty I’ll have to say. Now, I hate meatloaf. Meatloaf was one of the main reasons why I was vegetarian for 6 years. It seems like meatloaf is just a gross combination leftover beef and whatever the cook wants to throw in, which I’m not a huge fan of, but Big Jone’s meatloaf was great. It was a combination of beef/pork/onions/tomato/chile. Very simple and very good. The collard greens were just as simple and good, just greens roasted in jowl. This was a successful take on the classic southern dish.
As for dessert, they were out of whatever apple dish they listed on the menu, but we got a coconut cake instead which I think I would have preferred anyway. Good, but nothing spectacular.
I went to the Bongo Room in the South Loop because my boyfriend took me here for breakfast. I don’t think he’s caught on yet that I’m not a huge fan of breakfast foods, but if you are, this has several options. Pancakes, omlettes, etc.
The decor is very cute. spring colors on the furniture remind me of a children’s playroom and the only thing breaking the children’s playroom vibe is the shitty top 40’s music.
The pancakes sounded elaborate and amazing as they had seasonal ones with a dozen or so ingredients involved, like a red velvet one or a pumpkin spice one. I chickened out and got a croissant sandwich with egg, bacon, & munster cheese. It came with a gazillion potatoes. My bf’s meal came with a gazillion potatoes too. between us i’m pretty sure they used at least 5 potatoes. Neither of us like potatoes in general, but these were bland so I especially didn’t like them. They were left untouched.
In the end, we were two of those Americans that waste 75% of our food. Huge portion and not really that exciting. Doubt I’ll go back.
going here was easy considering i only live a block away, and i’ve been here several times because of the convenience. uptown doesn’t have very many nicer restaurants so this really sticks out.
the decor is very modern and pretty. if you go into the women’s restroom, there are ikea frames with the original sheet of paper inside that is bought with it (the name of the product:rikka, etc). this always makes me laugh because i’m not sure the intention of leaving it that way. the chairs are clusters of white geometric triangles and soft benches. the atmosphere is always nice, calm, and refreshing. the crowd is usually social workers and those that live in the apartments nearby.
the food is great. they have unique rolls that always taste fresh and good. the black ocean is amazing. but because i’m not always in the mood for sushi, i usually get the pad thai or fried rice. the pad thai is alright but the hawaiian fried rice is just great. most of the meals are around 7-12 dollars, but if you come during lunch, the special is a three course meal (soup, appetizer, & entree) for about 10 dollars.