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Thursday, October 6

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Drink Sat Jul 24 2010

The Happy Margarita Summer Project 2010, Round 7: El Cid

Ever since Day One of this project, fans of El Cid on Kedzie in Logan Square have been imploring me and my research partner, Claire, to sip margaritas on the restaurant's spacious backyard patio. "It's like being in Mexico," they said, "and these margaritas are the best in the city." So on Friday we arranged to meet a group of friends right after work to grab a plum patio spot in the prime of margarita-drinking season.

Now this, my friends, is how you drink margaritas: Gather a nice-sized group of buddies and nab a spot in the sun, order a couple of pitchers, snack on some food, order another couple of pitchers, and when everyone has had their fill, say "adios" for the evening. Margaritas are not the sort of drink that promotes bar hopping; on the contrary, a good margarita simply makes you want to sit and savor the company.

El Cid's patio captures this vibe perfectly. While we were unable to fully enjoy its charms due to a pesky severe thunderstorm that shooed us to the upstairs lounge at around 7 p.m., we didn't let that stop us from enjoying these fantastic margaritas -- which, fans will be pleased to know, are now our top contenders.

What makes these margaritas so special is that their balance tips in favor of tart lime and good tequila, with just the right amount of sweetness to make them very, very drinkable. The classic margarita was so good not one person at the table decided to deviate with a frozen or flavored version. We did order both individual drinks and pitchers and noticed a slightly stronger hit of tequila in the former, at least for the first round of drinks. The second, third and, uh, subsequent rounds of pitchers seemed to have more tequila (no, really!) (Side note: I think I'm starting to become immune to tequila hangovers. I feel great today!)

For the salt fiends among us: Claire and I really like El Cid's salt. Big, crunchy salt crystals can detract from an otherwise delicious margarita. El Cid uses a finer grain than some of their competitors, which we think "seasons" the glass perfectly.

We all enjoyed the food, especially the burrito suiza, which is my Logan Square friend's "usual." The chicken sope, which I chose at the suggestion of my friend's daughter Serra, was generous and delicious.

In sum, El Cid took the lead last night, edging out former frontrunner Zocalo, and setting up some stiff competition for the remaining contenders, which include De Cero, Adobo Grill, Frontera, Twisted Lizard, Los Mananitas, Salud, Garcia's, Blue Agave, El Jardin, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, May St. Cafe -- and who else?

By the way, it's starting to become clear to us that this little project may creep into the fall. So many margaritas, so little time ...

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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