Quest for Chicago’s Best Burrito | La Cocina

la cocina, chicago, burrito

It pains me to give a low rating to a taqueria. Even at its worst, Mexican food is always a good decision. With my office’s move to the city, I have to find a new burrito spot. Sadly, La Cocina isn’t it.

Upsides: Their staff was friendly and the service was fast.

The burrito, however, wasn’t that good. Al pastor is my life blood. Their tortillas were about medium size, not the jumbos other taquerias normally use. This would be fine if it were amply full. Mine was light on all ingredients. I went with 8 coworkers and the verdict was the same for all the burrito eaters. Those who got taco salads were satisfied with the meat portions.

Additionally, we had 3 baskets of chips for the table. We asked for another basket toward the end of our lunch and were told it would be $2. That’s like an Italian restaurant charging for more bread. Chips are insanely inexpensive to make.

Coming in just under $9 for just the burrito, without rice or beans, La Cucina will not be my cucina.

Cheap, fast & marginally healthy dinner

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I made pasta sauce Sunday afternoon. It was by no means remarkable. It took about 45 minutes to cook. I started with diced onion, garlic, baby Bella mushrooms and a two cans of crushed tomatoes. Despite all that work, it essentially tasted like a pop-top jar of sauce.

Commuting into the city necessitates making meals ahead on the weekend. Whether that means a soup, sauce, or a bunch of grilled or cooked chicken, any advance cooking sets you up for having healthy meals during the week.

Tonight, I stopped at the grocery after getting off the train. While sprinting down the aisles in my post-work famine/rage, I grabbed one hot Italian sausage link from the butcher, fresh spinach and fruit.

I sliced the sausage link into half-inch pieces to expedite the cooking process. I heated a small skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Then add the sliced sausage into the hot pot. That took about six minutes to cook. I then washed and ripped up a handful of spinach. After removing the sausage from the pan, add the spinach to sauté quickly with salt and fresh cracked pepper. I added the leftover pasta with sauce to the pan. Once that was warm, I added in the crispy and spicy sausage.

You could also add grilled or seared chicken breast. Or if you are really fancy, steak. If you are vegetarian and somehow are lost on this blog, you could add in a mix of frozen or fresh veggies like peppers and sliced onion to bulk up and freshen the dish.

The meal with sausage, spinach and pasta cost about $4.

It won’t win any awards, but it will satisfy your hunger on a Wednesday night.
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A Bachelor's Quest for a New Gym

Finding a new gym is like finding a new girlfriend.

When my office finalized the move downtown a few weeks ago I had to end my two year relationship with my gym. We never fought. Some weeks we’d see each other 3-4 times a week. Others not at all. And that was the beauty of our relationship. I didn’t feel obligated to go every day. A few times I splurged on massages, but other than one Pilates class, I saw her for all the basic reasons: cardio and weights.

We shared some special moments. About halfway into our courtship, I achieved something I never had or thought I would: 12 unassisted chin-ups in a row. She was non-plussed. Instead she challenged me to do more. The same thing happened when I bench pressed 77% of my weight. “Do more,” she said.

For $20 a month I could bring a friend and take classes, think of it as the Mormon clause. In the two years I was a member I did this less than 3 times. Apparently no one ever has their workout gear with them.

Bachelor tip: always have your gym gear in your car or stashed in your desk.

I ended our relationship in writing. I tried to do it in person, but was told via letter was best. The last Thursday in the suburban office ended not with raising of beers, but with raising of dumbbells.

Despite our open relationship, I never caught anything from her and I risked it in the showers. No flip flops for this rebel with anti-fungal creams. Continue reading A Bachelor's Quest for a New Gym