Tag Archives: Best Restaurants

Recipe: Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)


Photo courtesy of Red Stag

Photo courtesy of Red Stag Hardcore Cider

Jonathan Zaragoza found his way into his destiny babysitting for his parents while they worked. “I saw how my mother and grandmother cooked at home and I had to quickly learn so that I could prepare meals for my siblings,” said Zaragoza. At the age of 12, he learned from his dad how to make birria tatemada, a Jalisco staple served at his family’s restaurant, and even how to butcher whole animals. 

Now a rising star with several accolades under his belt, Jonathan Zaragoza says when asked about his career, “I was not looking for the kitchen. The kitchen found me.”

Appointed Executive Chef at Logan Square’s Masa Azul since 2012, the Chicago native taps into his Jalisco roots to bring to life Mexican-inspired dishes with a creative twist. To a nostalgic transplant like me, his dishes come across as a loving interpretation of a Mexican mother’s cookbook through the lens of a young Chicago urbanite- respectful, yet bold and accurately original.

Recently, Jim Beam tapped into Zaragoza’s talent to create an incredible menu crafted to introduce their new flavor-infused bourbon, Red Stag by Jim Beam® Hardcore Cider. Luckily for us at La Vitamina T, we were treated to a phenomenal dinner featuring small plates and pairings, of which we have secured the recipes. If you don’t like or have never tried bourbon before, you might just become a fan.  Below is the first one of a magnificent series. Enjoy!

Frijoles Borrachos

  • 4 cups dried pinto beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8oz applewood smoked bacon, sliced
  • 6 oz chorizo, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 12 quarts of water
  • 1 can of Mexican beer
  • ½ cup Jim Beam Hardcore Cider
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a large pot, combine beans, water, beer and Jim Beam Hardcore Cider and cook over medium heat until all the beans are tender (about 2 hours).
  2. In a separate pan, combine the oil, bacon and chorizo and cook meats until crispy. Remove the meat from the pan leaving the rendered fat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and serrano chiles into the pan and cook until slightly caramelized (about 12 mins).
  4. Once the beans are tender, fold in the crispy meat, caramelized vegetables, and the tomatoes and cilantro, and cook for 10 mins so the flavors can marry.
  5. Finally, season with salt.
La Vitamina T was invited to an event sponsored by Red Stag by Jim Beam® Hardcore Cider and received free samples of food, pairings and product. The decision to write this review, as well as all opinions, are our own. 


¡Échele Mariachi!

Gaetano´s in Forest Park is one of 600 restaurants in the world to have been acknowledged with the “Ospitalita Italiana” award for having an “Authentic” Italian restaurant.  Consider México Vivo for your own serenata, call  (312) 510-6011.

I really miss serenatas. I especially miss how my friends celebrated their mothers on Mother’s Day. They would pitch in to pay a mariachi to accompany them while they criss-crossed our neighborhood singing. The young troubadours would flag down a mariachi band nearby, and would then go door to door singing for each other’s moms. I miss hearing birthday serenatas, engagement ones, or those that happened just because. The Doppler effect of a mariachi in the distance is a cultural vignette that I am sure I share only with a lucky few.

Although mariachi is often portrayed as “comical” in many movies, in reality, mariachi music is an important part of our celebrations. From festive to solemn and romantic, these bands are a staple of events of any size. Pretty much any mariachi band holds a repertoire that touches on anything and everything that is sacred to us, except for fútbol. Playlists are learned as part of an unspoken social etiquette of sorts. Mariachi trumpets, regardless of the quality of their sound, have the uncanny ability to make me cry.

Knowing this, and wanting to distract me from my doomed battle against gravitational pull, my wonderful, wonderful husband hired a mariachi for my birthday. OK, he asked me to hire one, and to negotiate with them in Spanish for a really good rate. I know it sounds funny, but mariachi bands or at the very least tríos románticos are quite ubiquitous in Mexico. You just call them or flag them down. I didn´t realize what a luxury that was until I tried to find one in Chicago that did not require a notice way in advance and a formal contract.

I finally landed one. How to go wrong with a mariachi named “México Vivo”?  We agreed that we would meet at my favorite place. Wait. My husband reminded me that we had to make sure the venue I had chosen was OK with the idea. My favorite restaurant, Gaetano’s in Forest Park, is a culinary heaven that sits only 60. There were 12 elements in the band alone. Plus, If the name has not given it away, Gaetano’s is an Italian restaurant. It would have been difficult to make an argument for the band being representative of Italian folklore.

Enrico called Chef Gaetano DIBenedetto, the talented and gracious owner of this gem to share with him our plan. Gaetano welcomed us mariachi and all. The food was magnificent, as usual. And the mariachi did not disappoint!

Gaetano's & Ristorantino Mediterraneo on Urbanspoon