The Run Down
This week’s socially distanced guide will let you enjoy that classic dinner and a movie date all from the comfort of your car. We will be driving down to Pilsen to enjoy some delicious Mexican food, sample artisan chocolates, and finish the night with a movie at the local drive-in.
1. 5 Rabinitos
Our first stop is at 5 Rabinitos, a Mexican restaurant owned and operated by Chef Alfonso Sotelo. The name, which translates to 5 Radishes, comes from a childhood nickname Sotelo and his four brothers got when growing up in Guerro, Mexico. To fully appreciate the menu, a brief history into Sotelo’s culinary career can help set the stage.
After moving to the United States he cut his teeth working in the kitchens of other chefs including Rick Bayless’s Xoco. These personal and professional experiences have culminated into the menu at 5 Rabinitos that is steeped in traditional flavors while maintaining Sotelo’s unique perspective. When we asked him what sets his food apart from the other Mexican restaurants in the area, he told us it really comes down to how he plates the dishes and the presentation that has been influenced by his experience working in fine dining.
I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on the menu, but today we are going to sample a few of the tortas, which if you didn’t already know, is a mexican sandwich typically made with a crusty bread called bolillo.
In 2017 the Chicago Tribune put 5 Rabinitos’s Barbacoa Torta on their list of, “Best Mexican Sandwiches. ” Sotelo says the menu does change seasonally so you will have to check for an updated listing, but today we tried the cheesy shrimp torta and got a sneak peak at a new barbacoa torta that will be available soon. The cheesy shrimp torta includes guacamole, romaine lettuce, and a jalapeno-onion salad.
While not the most car-friendly, we couldn’t get enough of this new torta. It’s packed with guajillo short rib barbacoa and pickled nopalitos all sitting in a morita tomato beef broth covered in melted cheese. If you don’t have any qualms about having to be a bit more careful while eating in the car, then this is what you want. After picking up dinner, we’re onto picking up a dessert before the movie starts.
2. Chocolat Uzma
Our next stop takes us to all the way to opposite side of Pilsen to pick up dessert at Chocolat Uzma, which specializes in South Asian-inspired chocolates handcrafted by Chef Uzma Sharif.
What you need to know is that these aren’t just any chocolates. Chef Sharif, as a first-generation Pakastani immigrant, user her classical French pastry training to create chocolates with with ingredients like coriander and chilis more commonly found in South Asian cuisine. Their signature items are the bonbons and truffles, but they also offer several pastries, chocolate bars, and other sweets.
After looking through their display, we settled on this beauty of a cake. It’s a salted caramel date cake which makes for a nice post-torta dinner dessert. The date cake was not overly sweet and would best be paired with a cup of coffee or something warm to drink.
You’ll also need some movie candy as well. This is their Kashmiri chili dark chocolate bar. The chocolate bar combines cinnamon, cayenne, and Kashmiri chili and provides a little kick after each bite. If you aren’t planning on eating these chocolates right away then check the website for specific storing and eating suggestions. Sharif told me the chocolates are best eaten at room temperature since the flavor changes when cooled and the experience and melt in your mouth sensation will be completely different.
Outside of COVID, Chocolat Uzma also offers a chocolate 101 course where participants can learn how to do professional chocolate making techniques at home and will make a signature chocolate.
3. ChiTown Movies Drive-In
Our final stop of the night will be the ChiTown Movies Drive-In. With COVID restrictions in place many drive-ins have extended past the traditional summer season as an option to enjoy movies from the comfort and safety of your own car.
Here are some logistics things to note before you go.
– Movies are currently being shown every night of the week
– Start time depends on the day, but on weekdays it’s at 7pm and on weekends around 9pm.
– Tickets are between $39 – $49 per car. Schedule is here.
– If you need to use the bathroom there are facilities located in ChiTown Futbol for customer use. Just make sure to wear a mask anytime you are exiting your car or designated parking space.
When you turn onto Throop street you will want to drive all the way down till you see the Chitown Futbol awning on your left. Just a little bit further and you will reach the parking lot where an usher will be waiting to check you in and help you navigate to your spot.
There is no outside food or drink allowed since they sell concessions so you will need to store any leftovers you have from earlier. You can order snacks and drinks from ChiTown Grille which has your typical popcorn and candy as well as some more savory options like tacos and burgers if you’re still hungry. Just order online and you can have it delivered directly to your car.
Once the movie starts you will tune into the specified radio station so you can hear the audio. After that just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.