Most cityfolk have a place to fall back on when things are bleak. For many, their venue of choice is a dive bar with worn out cushions in the booths, or a dependable diner with an extensive soup menu. My culinary cure for a bad day is a little unorthodox and a little spicy: I have a taco joint. Cookies & Carnitas is the local place where everyone knows my name, and I count my blessings to be able to fall back on their cuisine after a tough day. This is the type of place where the staff might sit down with you for a moment or two to catch up; the epitome of a good neighborhood restaurant.
When I moved to Edgewater, I was intrigued by the small restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Ardmore but I didn’t stop by right away. I had lived in the neighborhood for over a year before some girlfriends and I spontaneously swooped in to pick up some cookies for a movie night. The Kitchen Floor cookie sports everything but the kitchen sink: it’s made from scratch, with several forms of chocolate and a dusting of espresso powder. We were at the restaurant for just a moment- long enough to notice the deep red walls adorned by local artwork. The tables are snug, small 2-top and 4-top tables perfect for congregating.
It wasn’t until late spring of this year that Cookies & Carnitas became a tradition of sorts for me. On Friday evenings friends (and possible paramours) helped in defining my Edgewater weekend migration; we’d grab a bottle of wine at Independent Spirits up the street and adjourn to Cookies & Carnitas, which is BYOB. My favorite pairing: a Spanish Rioja with C&C’s goat tacos.
That’s right, goat tacos. Not to mention octopus, shrimp and fish (subject to availability), as well as a seasonal variety of red meat options such as brisket, pork shoulder & pork belly, and Amish chicken. I recommend vegetarians check out the incomparable crispy Portobello tacos. These aren’t eensy-weensy street tacos, either- C&C’s double-tortilla’d masterpieces include generous amounts of cabbage slaw, black beans, cheese, crema, spicy pineapple salsa and a dash of pico de gallo. I don’t even try to pick up their tacos at first bite; it’s more of a silverware situation for me. Their winter special, Loaded Chili, is now on the menu. When I saw it served the other night I was reminded of the way Pho or Udon is sometimes plated (bowled?)- all sorts of condiments beautifully arranged on top of a simmered concoction that matches the deep red of the restaurant’s walls.
The best part about my neighborhood place is that the great food is served by great people; Mike, Brad, and their crew know me by name, and I’m getting to know them as well. They’re a raucous, energetic group who have a community-minded component to the business; Cookies & Carnitas serves as a CSA pick-up point, they have a booth at the Green City Market, and they strive to source local, responsibly sourced meat, produce, and cheese whenever possible. They’re humble about their preferred food sourcing methods; you won’t find a list of local produce or meat distributors on the back of their menu. Everything is served fresh based upon availability, and the fare is always worth the wait. The salads could easily serve 3-4 people, and the several times I’ve deviated from my taco order in favor of pizza I was definitively pleased with the piping hot pie served to me. The staff will make pointed recommendations when something is exemplary; recently Brad decided that I needed to try kale on my pizza instead of spinach, and he was absolutely right.
There are picnic tables painted in warm colors lined up along the sidewalk on Ardmore, the perfect setting for dining outdoors with friends and a good bottle of wine on a warm summer night.
PLEASE NOTE: Cookies & Carnitas is cash only