Just got back from a few days in Chicago and I must thank the board for all the great information about the food scene that I've been reading for the last few weeks. Our biggest problem was the brevity of our visit. Our first meal in Chicago ( other than Superdawg at Midway ) was at Mixteco Grill and it set the bar quite high. Our local friends suggested it and I was glad to go along because the name had popped up several times ....... the fact that they take reservations was also a big plus - not wantting to spend an hour or two at Frontera Grill waiting in line.
We arrived around 7pm on a chilly/breezy night - immediately was impressed by the buffered entryway that kept the cold air from invading the dining area each time someone entered or exited. We promptly got seated under a brightly colored painting and opened our BYOB wines.
I was disappointed that they didn't have any kind of agua frescas - maybe only a lunch thing?
As openers we tried the grilled squid/arugula, the sopes and the marlin ceviche. The grilled squid had a nice smoky essence and the arugula was young & tender - not overly bitter at all.
The sopes with carne asada (beef) had a good ration of masa/beans to meat and were topped with some radish matchsticks. Savory morsels. Lastly we had the ceviche ..... enjoyed the bright flavors. The clear favorite among our entrees was the mole negro that came with the rack of lamb ...... many layers of flavor with a nice finish of spice. The grilled / sliced pork chop was perfectly cooked & seasoned. The chicken was also flawlessly cooked. My Cochinita Pibil was perfectly fine but not as engaging as the other grilled entrees. Portions were generous overall especially considering the moderate prices. We tried the tres leches cake - pleasant but not up to the standards set by the entrees. Service throughout the evening was quite efficient and friendly. By the time we left there were several folks waiting to get in and both rooms were full.
Our other Mexican meal was in Pilsen at Nuevo Leon. .... Mainly because Thursday is the only day of the week that Carnitas Uruapan is closed. Did notice another restaurant that seemed to specialize in carnitas also but we were attracted by the crowd at N. Leon's - along with an unsolicited recommendation by someone standing outside. N. Leon was bustling at lunch time - we got one of the last tables. Immediatley brought some thin, grease free chips and some salsa, pickled carrot/jalapeno, a large bowl of some tomato/onion chunky stew? Amd followed yet by a small dish of tomatillo/beans & pork stew along with some great thin charred tortillas. Loved the savoriness of the beans/pork in tomatillo sauce. For my entree I went for the comforting Lengua a la Mexicana ($8.00) tender slices braised in a tomato sauce and my SO ordered the Camarones al mojo de ajo: expertly grilled shrimp with garlic & red pimento sauce. Just cooked through - still tender & moist. This was a great platter of food for $10.
Be informed that they do not take Credit Cards.