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My taxi picked me up in downtown Chicago and I told the driver to take me to the Pilsen neighborhood, just three miles southwest of the Chicago Loop where I was staying. The area was originally inhabited by Czech immigrants who named the neighborhood Pilsen after the Czech Republic city Plzeň. The area then became predominantly Latino. He argued with me and kept questioning why I wanted to go there. I couldn't understand why he was so resistant and explained that I knew exactly where I wanted to go.....Punch House, located in the historical Thalia Hall. Thalia Hall Thalia Hall, modeled after Prague's opera house, was built in 1891 by original proprietor John Dusek and the neighborhood's Eastern European immigrants. The space has been restored and today is a music venue/event space, as well as Dusek's restaurant and The Tack Room, a bar in the former carriage house. And, downstairs is Punch House.
DineLA is here again. For 12-14 days, twice a year (winter and summer), hundreds of restaurants around Los Angeles offer prix fixe menus for less than their normal price. It is the perfect time to head to the restaurants on your list that you have been meaning try. On my list was Fundamental LA. A neighborhood restaurant in Westwood, I had been hearing great things about the fresh farmer's market ingredient menu. So, a couple of friends and I went to dinner there the other night. The small plate menu is divided up into 4 sections and with the Dine LA menu, you can chose one item from each section for $40. This is a great value as each dish ranges from $12-$22 each and you could easily spend more for less if you order a la carte. And, with friends, we managed to order different items in each section and then shared. The flavors of each dish is matched by its presentation. Although it seemed that most of the dishes were plates on one half of a large plate, they all looked like works of art. First Course The Hamachi Belly with sour plum, shiso and ginger granite Hamachi Belly

Summer is well underway and I hope you are enjoying the sunshine! I just returned from a month of travel to Italy and Greece, exploring various wine regions, and will...