Your day's organized by two simple forces: the El, which determines your traveling, and food, which is delicious and keeps you from dying. Align your wanderings with your chow, with Ari Bendersky's new column, Degust-EL-Station.
NEXT STOP: Sheridan (Red Line)
WHERE TO EAT: TAC Quick, 3930 N Sheridan Rd., (773) 327-5253
Short for Thai Authentic Cuisine, Quick's touted as one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in the city. The owners have nailed a balance between accessible dishes for those who aren't accustomed to true Thai cuisine and incredibly spicy items that you can order from the special Thai menu, which you must request.
Beware though that if you order from the authentic menu, that stuff is really hot—and we're talking melt-your-face-off, make you hiccup uncontrollably hot. But it gives you a real look into how Thai people eat back home (we found out that you can wimp out and request the kitchen to tone down the heat because there are some items worth trying that aren't on the regular menu).
You can order pad see ew and crab Rangoon at any noodle shop, so branch out and experiment with something you'd never try, like pork neck, which you may find on the daily special board.
Start with the moo ping, marinated grilled pork in a spicy housemade sauce. There's just enough heat, but since the restaurant is BYOB, bring a bottle of white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer) to help curb the spice.
Then move on to som tum poo, a papaya salad with dried crab, peanuts and tomatoes, off the Thai menu. It may sound sweet, but this baby is on fire. Have a mid-course of the sweet coconut tom kha soup with chicken and lemongrass, either mild or spicy.
For entrees, don't miss the green curry with chicken, eggplant and bell peppers or the BBQ pork and Chinese sausage, served over rice and a hard-boiled egg.