Tickie’s (7605 N. Paulina, Chicago, IL), now in its tenth year, isn’t really a place you would think of taking a long L ride to get to, with a Spartan atmosphere with only a few turquoise seating booths. But it may be your only good shot at Belizean cuisine in the city, and you really get your money’s worth. Tickie’s serves good, flavorful Caribbean cuisine to a group of steady (and predominantly take-out) regulars, but the Eaters felt right at home. While we studied the hand-written menu hanging over the back wall, we got helpful suggestions from another customer.
“Try the dukunno,” she said – a small cornmeal tamale with a taste and consistency not different from a very moist cornbread. The cornhusk wrapped dukunno’s sweetness contrasted nicely with our larger chicken tamale, a good blend of savory masa, spices, and well-seasoned on-the-bone chicken. That amount of food would have been enough, but being the adventurers we are, we had to order as many different dishes as we could. Rice and beans with chicken was next, the spices there mimicking the chicken tamale, but the plate was finished off with a grilled plantain and a sweet potato salad.
We also had conch fritters with a unexpectedly spicy sauce (the shellfish was new to M) to round out the meal. Dessert was a tiny orange-colored coconut tart, a good and tasty finish to our spicy, sweet, and savory meal. The bill for this feast? $17. It sure felt like Belize to us, from the food to the friendly ambiance, so our next visit to the Howard stop will probably include a small detour to Tickie’s.