A word about Irving Meanderings:
While being a non-driver has its inconveniences, there is nothing better than walking around town for finding interesting places to shop and dine. This post begins a series on discoveries that I make as I toddle about Irving Park and Old Irving.
Some of these "discoveries" are specials or events at establishments that I've visited before, others are places that I've recently found during my strolls. In all cases, these posts will hopefully acquaint you with some of the fine businesses and amenities in our neck of the city.
Thirteen Pins Tapas and Bar
I discovered Thirteen Pins a few days after I moved to Old Irving back in 2011. The bar had just opened and, as it isn't far from my home, I was eager to try the place in hopes that it would become my local watering hole. While that hasn't quite worked out (I tend to favor River West's 694 Wine and Spirits for upscale drinking and The Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown for everyday boozing.), I do periodically visit this family owned establishment for a drink and a bite. The owners are friendly and trustworthy (I once left my credit card behind and the manager on duty kept it in her wallet until I came by the next day to retrieve it.), and the bar itself has an unpretentious vibe.
As for the food and drink, Thirteen Pins has a decent selection of bottled beers, various custom cocktails, wine by the glass and bottle and a fairly extensive small plate menu. Some dishes are better than others, though the salmon, beef short ribs and pulled pork sandwich are generally safe bets.
- Pulled Pork at Thirteen Pins
Point of clarification: While the bar has "Tapas" in its name, it actually serves mostly Asian/Filipino small plates. Other than the homemade sangria (which is actually quite tasty), there isn't much Spanish influence on the menu.
This mercifully cool weather inspired me to run some errands over at Six Corners. As I walked past Thirteen Pins I noticed a sign offering 1/2 price tapas between 3 and 6 on Thursdays and Fridays. As it was about dinner time (and I am fond of a good deal) I decided to stop in. I was, as always, greeted warmly by the staff and offered a beverage (I chose chardonnay). I inquired about the 1/2 price tapas and was told that I'd need to order a drink (which I had already done) to get the deal.
(I also later found out that the 1/2 price tapas are restricted to some of the lower priced items on the menu. Ask your server first about what items are included in the 1/2 price offer.)
I ended up eating the best salad I've ever tasted.
The Thirteen Salad, suggested by my waitress, by all rights and laws of chemistry ought to taste like a jacked-up mess. Its ingredients include fresh tomato and mozzarella (ok so far), Filipino pickled vegetables (say what?) along with some avocado and arugula (double huh?).
I wasn't expecting much, but then it arrived at my table looking very pretty indeed:
Still skeptical, I took a bite.
(I repeated the biting process several times.)
This salad is amazingly good: The avocado and cheese conspire to provide a creamy, substantial foil for the crisp pickled carrots and radishes, snappy arugula and acidic tomato. The result is a salad that manages to be both refreshing and filling at the same time.
(And to think I ate it at Irving and Keeler!)
If this heat keeps up, I suspect I'll be eating a lot more of these salads in the coming weeks.
You can find Thirteen Pins, and its amazing salad, at 4202 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL (773) 283-6626 .