Sky Full of Bacon

#1: Not the Worst Name On Southport!

Bull-Eh-Dias! is a Spanish tapas restaurant named, apparently, for a mispelling or mispronunciation of “bulerias,” which D. Hammond says is a flamenco rhythm. All I know is, it doesn’t have the most awkward and inappropriate name on Southport, because that prize has already been sewn up by La Poupée, which may mean “The Doll” in French, but which reduced my sons to hysterics (“They called their restaurant The Poopy!”)

You can tell Bull-Eh-Dias is a tapas restaurant because, like Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! and Azucar! it ends in an exclamation point. Helen at Menu Pages had sage words on this topic the other day:

we also would like to say, as an aside, that we deeply deeply love the Broadway musical punctuation in [Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!’s] name, and the inferred obliviousness on the part of whoever came up with it to the fact that it is the dumbest thing ever

More interesting to me was the fact that it turns out to occupy the space that was one of my early Chicago foodie revelations. As Tony Soprano said, “Remember when is the lowest form of conversation,” but I’ll just indulge in it long enough to note that when I moved here in ’88 and saw a promotion at The Music Box for a long-forgotten restaurant down the street called Chezz Chazz, I felt like I had done something so big city cool, finding an edgy neighborhood place not in the guidebooks and trying it myself. A couple of years later the same space was Tamales, run by John Terczak (whose brother Dennis had the much-acclaimed Sole Mio on Armitage), and I had pumpkin tamales there, the very concept of which expanded my Mexican food mind substantially.

Now it’s 15 or even 20 years later and Southport isn’t the frontier, it’s a Trixie and Chad neighborhood. This doesn’t promise much for the Tapas joint with the goofy name. But if no great revelation, Spanish food-wise, Bull-Eh-Dias! managed to pull off a bunch of by now fairly standard items with reasonable success for a reasonable price. Patatas bravas came with a weak tomato sauce, but a bright and searingly garlicky mayo. Grilled chorizo tasted like the real thing that we ate at Maceiras in Madrid, and was satisfying. A tortilla was poor, mainly because it was freshly cooked— so it tasted like an omelet (clearly the sitting out on the bar under plastic wrap is an essential part of its comfy deliciousness); but grilled calamari, tossed with some sauteed onion, was quite nice. Bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates were delectable if not quite as good as ones I’ve had elsewhere (including the surprisingly decent Twist Tapas, even further inside the Trixie Nexus).

There’s one exceptional Spanish restaurant in town now, Mercat a la Planxa, and everything else exists on a plane well below it, but that’s not to say that at its modest pricepoint and with its easygoing vibe, a place like Bull-Eh-Dias isn’t perfectly capable of giving you a satisfying meal which will, from time to time, vaguely remind you of meals actually eaten in Spain.

Bull-Eh-Dias Tapas Bar
3651 N. Southport, Chicago
(773) 404-2855

Retroactively declared #1 in my 50 new restaurants challenge.

* * *

P.S. As this thread on LTHForum approached the point of going to its second page having said nothing about woodburning barbecue but a vast amount about whether “Chicago” commonly includes or excludes the suburbs (and how incensed suburbanites should get about this kind of city snob slur), I posted the image below:

With Chowhound-like alacrity, my bon snarque was quickly pulled. Look forward to many more, fascinating revelations on this topic. Meanwhile, if there’s anyone who actually wants to try a new, good woodsmoked barbecue place conveniently located to the north side of Chicago, I suggest this one. So far, it has gone unnoticed on LTHForum, which is, simply, a damned shame.

P.S. Different animal, same sentiment.

Tags: ,
If you like this post and would like to receive updates from this blog, please subscribe our feed. Subscribe via RSS

Comments are closed.