Nelly's Saloon: Romanian to the Core

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As it's proved to me every other day, there are pockets of Chicago I'm completely unaware of. Just when I think I've hit every hole-in-the-wall eatery, up pops another one (of course when I ask the owner, "Now, how long have you been here?" they're always like, "Twenty years").
How is that possible, I wonder, because I roll down this street three times a week, and surely I'd have noticed your sign, you know? I guess I don't pay as much attention to my surroundings as I think I do (just gazing into space as I'm flying down alleys and side streets).

This weekend, I happened upon what will surely become one of my new favorite Sunday hangouts, a funky little Romanian restaurant called Nelly's Saloon. It's tucked on a discreet corner on Elston Avenue (the best criss-crossing street in the city), and from the outside, looks to be a nice, family sort of establishment. Well, when we scooted through the front door, the place was packed with young Romanian cutie-pies, all face-forward screaming at the big screen TVs on the wall. Cut to: Upon our entry, a full turnaround, long stare, total body checkout and whip back around to yell some more at the soccer game that was blaring out of the TV. Yah, I'm gonna go ahead and just take a seat at the bar. (Who could parade across that scene to try to locate a table?)

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