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Chicago Area Mexican

Amelia's Mexican Grill

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Restaurants & Bars

Amelia's Mexican Grill

Vital Information | Aug 19, 2003 09:58 AM

This is a new Mexican place that opened about a week or so ago. Credit for "discovery" goes to Bubbie and Zaydee, who detoured on there way one night to Twisted Spoke. And Zaydee raved about the mole. We tried a week later.

Amelia's is positioning itself towards the Frontera's of the world, but not quite. Servers wear trendy black, almost as if someone designed the outfits, and they respond with some strenuous attempts to be professional. They asked before taking dishes, a nice touch, and refilled my pop without my asking. Decor-wise, they avoid the folk art/day of the dead look found in Frontera and the Bahena offshoots, and thankfully also avoid any Frida reproductions. Amelia shows you can have a look without being cliched. You eat with fancier plates and silverware than at Quebrada. Kids get about five choices apart from the adult menu, a nice touch. On the other hand, there is still chips on the table and fajitas on the menu. Right now it is BYOB and several tables were taking advantage of this fact, advertised in big hand painted letters on the window. It is an interesting mix, but a good mix.

Those chips were thick and very fresh and refilled effortlessly. There were two table salsas. One was a made from roasted/cooked ingredients and reminded me of the salsa at Quebrada. It had some heat but could have used more. The second sauce was basically a puree of cooked tomatillas, and this sauce really needed more ingredients.

Ms. VI and I split a couple of house specials. We got an order of shrimp ceviche and ribs in a green sauce. The ceviche feature an abundance of liquid, which I actually like. It needed way more heat though, and I was disappointed that they did not have some bottled Yucateco green sauce to kick it up a few notches. An unusual touch, the ceviche had bits of sliced cactus, adding a different and vegetal taste to the mix. The ribs were roasted rather plain, and then covered in the same green sauce as above. I have argued vehemently that ribs are a meat and not a method of cooking, and this dish showed how good a meat ribs can be. The sauce worked fine on the ribs. My only complaint, small portion.

One of the chowhounditas got quessadillas. These were the sandwich variety of quessadillas, with flour tortillas, on the surface, total gringo style. Yet, within, they mixed in rajas, strips of poblano peppers. The kid's dish had more zing than anything mom and dad ate.

The other chowhoundita got the best dish in the house, a very large casserole of, from scratch mac and cheese. It had everything you want in a mac a cheese: a thick layer of au gratin style cheese on top and a creamy, ultra butter sauce built from a mix of Mexican and American cheeses. The noodles were standard elbows, but they went absolutely fine with this dish. Not only was the mac and cheese prepared so well, but the portion was huge. No one outside of Rocky and Carlos in Chalmette, LA gets a bigger dose of mac and cheese. I will probably order this myself next time!

While I enjoy La Quebrada and Islas Maria more, mostly for the better value, and partially for a bit more soul in the food, I think that Amelia offers a great alternative when something a bit fancier is in order.

VI

Amerlia's Mexican Grill
1235 W. Grand
Chicago, IL
312-421-2000
BYOB for now

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