Friday, March 18, 2016

Tosilog in Chicago: The Search is Over!

I think it was the name -- Uncle Mike's. Or it could also be the rave. Be it online or word of mouth, I hear a lot about the restaurant.

One afternoon, I decided to just go. It was chilly and snow piles were on the road but it was not enough reason to stop me from my intention. I went anyway. Armed with GPS on one hand, I trod until I reached where it sat. Right at the corner of an intersection lobbied the famed Uncle Mike's Place. I almost ran in excitement but I decided I'd keep it cool. Sadly, I was greeted by a closed shop. It was unwise not to check the store hours (5AM - 3PM) beforehand. My mistake for having thought of Chicago like Philippines where most, if not all shops, are open at the same time - from sun up to sun down.

Was I bitter? No. Motivated? Yes! Someday, I'll arrive to an open shop.

Finally, today, I made it! When you are in a foreign country, you can't help but crave for food that reminds you of home. Silog (a concatenation of sinangag at itlog) is a Filipino's fast food. Not because they are ready made like the usual sandwiches, but because fried egg does not take too long to cook. Match it with tocino, longganisa, ham, or bangus, and you go crazy with names like tosilog, longsilog, hamsilog and bangsilog.

I was mentally ready when I got there. I knew they serve complimentary lugaw (Filipino congee) and their meals are hefty. Without delay, I ordered their Tocino breakfast for dine-in and a 3-stack pancake to go. You would think I was greedy and famished but understand that the place is just not that accessible from where I live, hence, the need to order the must-trys. 

Just as I expected, the congee was served. What I didn't know is that it came with boiled egg served separately. It was already a meal by itself. By the time my tosilog came, I was already half full. Now, remember, I said I knew the reviews said their plate is huge, but nothing prepared me for reality. It didn't look like a plate. It was a PLATTER with garlic rice, tocino pork strips, twin eggs (conjoined.. lol), tomato salad, and stalks of parsley laid neatly on it. A feast was literally set in front of me. And the challenge began. First a deep breath, like you would for a lap-long swim, then one spoonful led to another until the finish. Just as you thought you are done, they make sure you don't leave empty-handed. You go home with a take-away champorado in a small container.

Although I would say that there are better versions of tocino in the Philippines but Uncle Mike's certainly did the Filipino food representation really well in Chicago. I looked around and the Americans were digging it too. I overheard one say to the waiter, "I like the soup" (referring to lugaw). Another one dashed to the cashier saying "Was it you who cooked it? I have gotten full". I was listening and quietly felt proud for the crew. The cashier was a Filipina and by the time I signed my payment receipt, she had the Mexican waitress tuck a key chain for me after hearing it was my first visit. I would go back for the marinated skirt steak the Google reviews rave about and for their other silog entrees. Next time I'd share the plate with friends. Now.. --- I eat the pancakes!!

The owner is Polish-Ukranian married to a Filipina.

Uncle Mike's Place
1700 W. Grand Ave., 312-226-5318
Hours: 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday,
6 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday



  1. It shows you definitely enjoyed the food! Great read! Now, if I can only also have a taste! :D

    1. Hahaha.. yup I enjoyed the food. Even more on the experience kay dako kaayo ang plato. Maka-challenge!

  2. I'd gladly share the food with you, Mike. Bwhaahahah!
    They sure cure Pinoy cravings - lugaw while u wait plus take-away champorado. Now that's our hospitality.

    1. Thumbs up! It also speaks volumes of how much the owner loves Filipino food.


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