When winter really kicks in and my tolerance begins to expire, I start chasing the equatorial sun. Not literally, of course, but via the most affordable way I know: my belly. I traipse about the city on the hunt for restaurants that whip up food from any country south of the equator. If I can't be there in person, soaking up the food, drink, culture and personality of countries like Brazil, Argentina and Peru is the next best thing. My proudest find is a wildly simple Ecuadorian establishment, Mi Ciudad, 3041 W. Irving Park Rd.
This blissfully deserted home-style restaurant is one of my favorite haunts. I discovered it years ago when I lived on the fringe of Albany Park, and spotting it was one of those drive-by, slam-on-the-breaks moments. Me and a team of my compadres wandered in to an empty dining room and proceeded to get crazy with Ecuadorian wine and deliciously simple, made-from-scratch food.