Pl-zeñ │1519 W. 18th, Chicago│Brunch Sat/Sun 11am – 4pm, Dinner Nightly 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat to 1am│312.733.0248│Average tab: $24
Photos credit: Pl-zeñ
Dining in Chicago’s greatest neighborhood, Pilsen, just keeps getting better, and it’s not a case of the old guard being changed. It’s a case of new and old restaurants living side by side in perfect culinary stasis. Pl-zeñ represents a new crop of restaurants mixing Chicago’s diverse cultures into a culinary adventure sharable by all who dare to venture south of Taylor Street.
The first time that I paid a visit to what would eventually become my local haunt, I was on my way home from the gym looking for something fast and vaguely nutritious. I found all this and more in their scrumptious fig salad, which combines dried figs, spinach, pistachios, pomegranate bits, a light sprinkling of goat cheese—all tossed in a garlic and je ne sais quoi dressing creating a dining experience that can only be described as a mouthgasm. After this experience, I was sold. I needed to return to this magical place where my taste buds danced the Lindy Hop with each other all night and then made out till the sun same up. The salad was that good.
My next visit was the first that I had a chance to sample what Pl-zeñ was truly all about, at least in my mind. On this visit I tried something that is surprisingly rare in Pilsen: a damn good burger and a beer. Their selection of both left me impressed. As variety is truly the spice of life, this is one spicy place. The first thing to jump out at me on the burger menu was The Diablo burger, an all-beef patty seasoned with cilantro and red onion, served on a pretzel roll with grilled jalapeño and the regular burger fixin’s. I have to note that I’m militantly against cilantro and all that it represents—its shitty flavor, ugly leaf shape and how as a Mexican it’s imposed on me. That being said, the accommodating staff substituted the cilantro ridden patty with a nice hearty bison patty. El Diablo was served with shoestring-cut truffle fries, which was the perfect touch. As an appetizer I sampled the Habanero Chicken Wings served on a bed of bleu cheese potato salad. My dining partner who isn’t deathly allergic to the little mermaid and her compatriots had the cab cake burger, which was apparently awesome as well.
Now to prove the versatility of this restaurant I’m going to reference the fact that I have been here on a proper date, which means actual non-burger food was ordered. On these occasions, I had the Steak Frites. Tender, bloody pieces of steak, just how I like, served on a pile of truffle fries. Don’t you just love it when a dish is so simply named? Needless to say I was happy with it. My date had grilled chicken. We shared the Sliders for an appetizer, which is essentially a tour of their meat dishes in convenient bite-sized baby burgers. We were both impressed with it.
I have since returned multiple times to this casual haute-gourmet spot nestled in the heart of Pilsen and found that the food is good if one orders the right things. The selection of craft beer is impressive, and their brunch service is a beautiful and rare thing in Pilsen. All I have to say is DUCK BACON.
Pl-zeñ only serves farm fresh foods, an attitude reflected in their decor as well as behind the bar. The entire subtle philosophy behind the place is give the client something delicious, sustainable and comforting all in a very Pilsen gallery setting.