Best Bites Chicago

This week’s Best Bite: Smoked fish sandwich, Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market

This Best Bite is one of the 20 foods and 15 drinks I’ve set out to taste and document in 2015. View the full list to see my plan and progress.

Smoked fish sandwich, Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market
Smoked fish sandwich with duck trap smoked trout spread, three types of thin-sliced smoked fish, thin-sliced capicola ham, capers, cider-vinegar dressing on a toasted french roll

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: Because the menu at Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market in Lakeview is nearly endless, I only concentrated on the Sea Sandwiches section during my first visit. I was intrigued by the idea of so many kinds of smoked fish on the same sandwich – four, including the smoked trout spread – and my server confirmed that it was a favorite. I was awed by how well everything in the sandwich worked together, the smoky fish mingling with capicola, sweet cider-vinegar dressing, capers, and lettuce on toasty french bread. The flavor profile even reminded me a little of the bacon-trout-slaw combination on my favorite bagel sandwich. It was the kind of sandwich you wish every deli would offer, all the way down to the house potato pancake and dill pickle on the side.

The details: Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market, 1258 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.

[googlemaps width=300 height=300]

Travel Eats

Travel Eats: A few summer bites in Washington, DC

Travel Eats documents my food adventures outside of Chicago.

Smoked fish plate, Duke's Grocery
Smoked fish plate with smoked salmon, smoked whitefish, smoked herring, housemade trout rilettes, accompanied by capers, shallot, lemon-herb salad, pickled cucumbers, and buttered toast, Duke’s Grocery

I spent some time with friends in Washington, DC, last week, and while I didn’t get to fit in any overly elaborate meals, I still emerged with a few favorite bites from the nation’s capital. The first came at Duke’s Grocery in Dupont Circle, a café that takes its inspiration from the cuisine of East London. We ordered several of the seasonal, daily-varying dishes to share over a leisurely late lunch on the front patio. I liked everything, but the best part of our umbrella-shaded feast was the colorful fish plate, featuring four different kinds of smoked fish to layer onto toast with pleasantly mild pickles, capers, and a squeeze of lemon.

I started another morning at Penn Quarter’s Red Apron Butcher to try a tigelle, a breakfast item that had piqued my interest before the trip. The tigelle itself was a pressed Italian flatbread that was like a crispy English muffin, but denser and more flavorful. Stuffed between its two halves was spicy pimento cheese, tasso ham, and a hefty portion of egg. It was a little unwieldy at times, with egg and cheese oozing over the sides, but also the most memorable, delicious breakfast sandwich I’ve eaten lately. Plus, how can you not love the flower design that’s griddled into it?

Southern Comfort tigelle, Red Apron Butcher
Southern Comfort tigelle with tasso ham, egg, and spicy pimento cheese, Red Apron Butcher
Peanut butter bacon pop tart, Ted's Bulletin
Peanut butter + bacon pop tart (and a glass of milk), Ted’s Bulletin

After hearing my friends rave about Ted’s Bulletin, I was happy to stop by one evening to snag one of their popular pastries for dessert. And once I saw that a peanut butter and bacon pop tart was one of my options, I didn’t need to consider anything else. It stayed true to the texture of a real pop tart, but with a decadent, sweet-and-savory twist, and went wonderfully with a glass of milk.

Finally, I knew I didn’t want to leave DC without visiting a food truck, as the scene there is much more established and diverse than it is in Chicago. When I got to Farragut Square around lunchtime, there were at least a dozen different trucks, slinging everything from Indonesian, Ethiopian, and Cajun cuisines to crepes, pies, bubble tea, and grilled cheese. After making the rounds, I decided to go with a Venezuelan arepa from Arepa Zone, whose healthy line indicated that the piping hot corn pockets were worth it. I loved the creamy chicken-avocado salad filling, and the watermelon salad on the side was a refreshing, summery touch.

Sifrina arepa, Arepa Zone truck
Sifrina arepa with chicken-avocado salad and shredded yellow cheese, Arepa Zone truck
Arepa Zone truck, DC
Arepa Zone truck parked along Farragut Square

The details: Duke’s Grocery, 1513 17th Street NW; Ted’s Bulletin, 505 8th Street SE; Red Apron Butcher, 709 D Street SW; Arepa Zone, Farragut Square and other varying locations (all addresses in Washington, DC).