Thursday, June 07, 2007

south side in the summertime

Wednesday evening Nick and I made our way to the South Side on the invitation of a friend who is house-sitting for a University of Chicago professor. It's all part of his attempt to get people to Hyde Park. I find this a noble pursuit as a.) although it is a worth while neighborhood to visit, I doubt many people I know have actually been and b.) that's potentially because, again, this is all speculation, people think it takes an hour to get there. Which in truth, although it's easy—it does take almost an hour via CTA.

That said, Nick and I made our way and as we were coming from The Loop, it took a surprising 20 minutes on the #6 Express bus. We arrived in the area of 51st street and remembered the hub of activity around 53rd. As we were early and hungry, Nick suggested a place on the 53rd Street strip called Rajun Cajun.

Now, I'd never eaten at Rajun Cajun, but really latched on to the idea of an Indian/Soul Food restaurant. I mean, is there a more perfect amalgam of comfort food? We pretty immediately spotted the bright yellow, neon-illuminated store front. Upon entry, we found a somewhat rundown, but tidy little cafeteria-style joint. The bright yellow walls, with bold green accents, pumping Bollywood soundtrack and odd mixture of Hindu and Southern artwork, made me think the place would be at home in West Philly. Heck, this whole area is an alternate West Philly, but that's for another post.

Now, Rajun Cajun is only in concept a different animal, truth be told, the food is mostly Indian with only a smattering of greens, mac n' cheese, fried chicken and a tray of corn bead muffins under the counter's glass. This, truthfully, is an Indian fast food joint and with that I'll attest that better Indian food is to be had on Devon Avenue, which sadly lies an hour in the exact opposite direction, but Rajun Cajun's Indian is good.

My only regret, which is solely by my own design, so it's not truly a complaint, more of a musing, is that in an ideal world, the fried chicken and greens would somehow be vegetarian* and that I could have a plate of fried chicken, curry, and a corn bread muffin or potentially tandoori chicken, greens and a samosa. Maybe one of my meat-eating friends could give that a try and report?

Appetites sated, we then made our way to the professor's house and vowed to make more South Side trips this summer—there's Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House to be seen and a maybe a visit to Jackson Park and the Osaka Garden or a romp through the South Shore's expansive park and beaches. Summer livin' in the city, people.

*A vegetarian mecca, also on the South Side, is Soul Vegetarian East. No Indian food here, strictly traditional Soul Food favorites, done completely vegetarian.

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