Sadly, some of my favorite food finds for 2008 are already gone with the wind. El Corral, a good South American restaurant on the north side, turned in terrific Peruvian dishes like ahi de gallina but has already closed. The out-of-sight-out-of-mind site on Packers Avenue near the airport (formerly Jimmy Frank's, The Runway) didn't help matters any.
Here's a recap of some other of my favorites from the last 365 days in frugal foraging. In no particular order....
- Cheeseburger basket at the Main Depot
A classic done well. The 1/3-lb. burger comes on a fresh sesame seed bun, with lettuce and tomato, your choice of fried or raw onion, and a nice dill spear nestled alongside it. Bye-bye, Five Guys.
- Sexy fries at Mickey's Tavern
They're more like deep-fried handmade chips, suffused with the earthy undertones of a white truffle oil dressing and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
- Crepes at Bradbury's
Ham, brie, and spinach made with locally sourced ham from Fountain Prairie and spinach from Snug Haven Farm was one of my favorites, but each crepe variety has its own appeal. Wake up with downtown's most potent espresso, too.
- Bahn mi at The Mermaid Cafe and The Bluebird at Crema Cafe
Bright, inventive sandwiches made with local ingredients when possible.
- Philly cheesesteaks at Big Red's Steaks
Sick of the standard sub sandwich? Go for the cheesesteak hoagie, with thin-cut ribeye, choice of cheese, lettuce and tomato. Up the gooey factor by picking Cheez-Whiz, like they do in Philly.
- Kung bao four delight at Tom's Red Pepper
The old Red Pepper at the corner of East Wash and Stoughton Road (now a used car lot) was my standard go-to spot for Chinese for years. After being M.I.A. for a year or so, the restaurant reopened as Tom's Red Pepper takeout on Gammon Road with all the old faves on the menu. The four delights in question are beef, chicken, shrimp and scallops, held together with a garlicky glaze.
- Chocolate brioche at La Baguette
Not that the baguettes aren't fine, but why resist this melt-on-the-tongue chocolate diet-wrecker?
- Breakfast pasties at Myles Teddywedgers
Subtract the traditional beef and rutabaga; add egg, cheese and sausage for a pie that works at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Gramma's Gone Gonzo wrap at Argus Bar Grille
Wraps can be deadly dull; not here. "Gramma" is based on a fresh whole-wheat wrap that hugs turkey, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, mandarin oranges and apples.
Zopes at Taqueria Marimar