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Aug 8, 2011 10:32 AM

If you were to open your own restaurant...

If you were to open your dream restaurant what would you open?
Ethnic cuisine?
Special Items you'd have that aren't at any of the restaurants you've been to?
What would you call it?
How would yours differ from others on the market/how would yours be special?

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  1. What kind of music would you play? I forgot to add that one!

    1. Assuming I had the money and access to good chefs, I'd want one similar to the Elephant Deli on 23rd in Portland, OR. It would have the casual atmosphere, the accessible working chefs, the comprehensive menu, and the cold case with all the premade goodies, and the best coffee! I would add a few more diet drinks to the stock. I like to see my food, or watch it being prepared, and I like a casual atmosphere. I like all sorts of people eating and enjoying their food. I like mulitple chefs interacting with the people they are making the food for. Takeout would be available and painless. I'd have a good selection of local brews of course, and maybe local wine. And--I'd host cookbook signings in the large group room. The menu would rotate and would feature local faves, and newer ethnic tastes. It would be located off a public transportation line, but would have ample parking. The restaurant would have so many signature dishes, there would a demand for its own cookbook.

      1. The one thing my neighborhood lacks is a decent diner: you just can't get breakfast out in Allston. So a straight-up breakfast/sandwich/blue-plate diner, nothing cutesy, nothing "artisanal," just a place where the eggs aren't gross and you can get a decent burger. Also, the Texan in me wants to be able to lay hands on a proper chicken fried steak, so that'll be one of the dinner specials. Music would come from the jukebox in the corner.

        1. I'd go for a Chinese-Mexican "fusion" restaurant. The decor would be "Bruce Lee meets Nacho Libre." I'd have carne asada chow mein, nopales with shittake mushrooms, roast duck tacos with green onions, and stir-fried beef with chipotle sauce and Sichuan pepper corns. I think I'd call it: La Comida Chino or something like that.

          6 Replies
          1. re: raytamsgv

            If you ever get to the Phoenix AZ area, look for our Chinese-Mexican favorite - Chino Bandito.

            1. re: raytamsgv

              And Chicago's Asian taco joint Taco Chino. Nothing is truly "new" anymore.

              1. re: ferret

                I hadn't seen this combination and was talking with the owner, who although is anglo, grew up in AZ eating a lot of Mexican food. He's married to a Chinese woman and this is the food their children grew up eating. It's quite a tasty combination especially since they have a menu that encourages mixing it up -- Jade chicken burritos etc. This is making me hungry for a return trip to Chino Bandito.

              2. re: raytamsgv

                Interesting idea. I'd not seen Chinese-Mexican places yet, but spotted an English-Mexican eatery in Hammersmith, London, last June called Robin Hood-Zorro :-D

                1. re: klyeoh

                  oh that's inventive and hysterical too :]

              3. I know it would be tough, tiring work with little to no financial reward, but I've always loved the idea of running an old school Greek-style fast food stand in Chicago. You know the ones that sell Italian beef, char burgers, Chicago dogs, Polish sausages, cheddar fries, gyros, tamales, and grilled chicken sandwiches? The problem with these places is that they all have the same huge menu, but usually nothing is excellent and some items are downright awful. At my fantasy stand we would sell all the ubiquitous Chicago fast foods, and they would somehow all be great.

                I'm not picky about decor but there are some must-haves: The menu has to be one of those yellowed backlit affairs with removable black letters. There would be no tables, just a counter running along the wall with patched-up stools to sit in. And there would be wooden picnic tables outside shaded by trees.

                4 Replies
                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  With pubfare getting the gastro treatment, I see no reason why the same can't be done to Chicagoland's workingclass comfort fare. M. Wells managed to do the same for diner fare in Queens, NY to rave reviews. To do so for tamales and Polishes would be a masterstroke. I hope you choose to keep Green River on your soda list.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    It’s interesting to think about upscaling this class of food. Take an Italian beef sandwich for example, would it be better if it was made with a fresh-baked roll instead of a cheap Gonnela roll? It is an objectively better bread but you would lose the gross (in a good way) squishy sogginess of the original. If it was made with prime rib instead of round roast could you still call it an Italian beef?

                    I'm not sure this genre of food gains much from upscaling the ingredients. I think what seperates a good stand from a bad one is quick turnover and attention to detail in assembly, both of which are very hard to accomplish with the big menus you find at these places.

                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      There are some iconic foods that are so close to perfect, that fussing can do more damage than simply using quality, tasty ingredients. Italian beef is a good example (though I think there are bad giardinieras that can ruin an otherwise perfect sandwich). There are other foods, though, which I think allow for more culinary expression, like a favorite marinade or sauce that turns a char-grilled chicken sandwich into a thing of greatness, or a chili recipe that makes for addictive tamales. I'm not saying you should serve truffle and gouda-filled pizza puffs, but if you make an outstanding filling with whole tomato chunks and locally made pepperoni, I could hardly fault you.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Yeah it's definitely case-by-case. A Chicago dog is all factory-made ingredients so the only way to improve it is thoughtful assembly; Poochie's in Skokie makes the best one in Chicagoland because it's not slopping all over the place and every bite gets you a little bit of everything. But you could really improve something like a tamale by making it from scratch.