Saturday, March 26, 2011

Returning to Restaurants

After 45-days of preparing all of our meals at home we were excited to take a couple nights off and go out to eat.  We fully intend to continue to eat paleo, but will do our best when eating out.  With that said, returning to restaurants was sadly a disappointing experience.  Thursday we went to Old Town Social, and last night we went to El Barco Mariscos, two of our Chicago favorites.  Thoughts about each experience.

Old Town Social

  • What used to say "grass-fed burger" now says "Wisconsin beef burger."  So instead of sticking with just a burger, we opted for salads with steak instead.
  • They ran out of Duck Wings (like buffalo wings, but with duck = more fat, more flavor, more paleo!)  so we took a chance on the Caldo Verde.  The soup of the day, which included a mixture of greens, potatoes, and garnished with sardines.  Sardines were a first for both of us.
  • Stacey realized she does NOT like sardines.  I can tolerate them, but am also not a fan.
  • The steak salad was delicious, but left us still feeling a little hungry.  We're used to eating huge meat-filled plates a home.
  • Our check was about a quarter of what we spend on a week's worth of food.  Yikes!  We forgot how expensive it was to eat out.  
El Barco Mariscos
  • Before we even left for El Barco, we had a lengthy discussion about whether it was okay for me to bring a bag of plantain chips with us to the restaurant.  I have a weakness for chips and salsa, which come complimentary.  I conceded and didn't bring the plantain chips.
  • We did it!  We left the tortilla chips on the table untouched!  I'm so proud.  Although, I did have a couple spoonfuls of salsa while waiting for our food to quell my urges.
  • Food is served family style at El Barco.  Normally we order the plate for two which is a huge platter of meat, seafood, and veggies.
  • We decided to order three big, family style appetizers instead to avoid the breaded fish/meat on the traditional plate.
  • We ordered and enjoyed a plate called Mariscos Al Chingadazo (shrimp, squid, chicken, mussels, and octopus, and whatever is in chingadazo seasoning/sauce), a plate of grilled squid (included potatoes), and a big bowl of ceviche (avocado, fish, shrimp, octopus, salsa, and lime).
  • Despite mostly paleo ingredients we began to feel a bit congested after eating.  We're assuming the food was not "clean," and that they used some sort of oil we haven't used during our challenge.
  • Overall a decent dining experience, but again our bill was about a quarter of what we spend at the grocery store for a week's worth of food.
Thoughts and Revelations:
  • We have become better cooks that we thought enjoying our home-cooked meals as much if not more than the restaurants'.
  • Holy crap, eating out is expensive!
  • Holy crap, eating out is ridiculously expensive when you keep ordering your new favorite adult-paleo-beverage Tequila on the Rocks!
  • If we eat out we're going to have to assume that even though the main ingredients are paleo, the food might not be clean.  


  1. Wow, you guys write very thorough posts! It's fun following your experience.

    Eating out is a huge drawback of paleo, yes indeed. It can be done, but the thrill is gone. You know they're using uber-cheap ingredients and oils at most restaurants, and if you go to a place where the ingredients are quality, you STILL can't have so much of what is offered.

    Once we learn what foods damage us, they don't look like harmless indulgences anymore.

  2. Thanks Becky! We've definitely enjoyed sharing about our experiences. At times I'm sure we get too excited and perhaps a little verbose.

    You're so right, those tortilla chips really didn't look like harmless indulgences anymore. When our server set them on the table, they didn't entice me, they scared me.