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mrbarolo | Sep 2, 200312:44 PM

I don't recall seeing this Andersonville spot covered, so here is a brief overview based on weekend breakfast visits only.

The large menu indicates a typical Chicago/Mex. neighborhood type place. The decor is refeshingly free of burros, sombreros, pinatas, and straw objects of any kind. Without the menu in front of you, you would think you were in any clean, pleasant neighborhood coffee shop/lunch place.

What stands out for me is Sunday brunch. Usually I shy away from the whole steam table concept, especially where any type of ethnic food is involved, but here they seem - either by accident or design - to have successfully stocked the chafing dishes with items that do not suffer from the treatment.

Brunch is $9.95 and you can go up as often as you like.
Items vary weekly. Much is fairly predictable but there are always some very nice surprises.

Last Sunday (if memory serves) there was:
* Strips of somewhat chewy (pleasantly so) steak in a very thick, somewhat spice sauce which was described as a "red" sauce, but which was nearly black. Perhaps a bit hearty for breakfast, but very interesting.

* Black beans - good, standard preparation.

* Chicken breast strips with large strips of onions and green and red peppers; sauteed and mildly spiced.

* The spanish equivalent of asian fried rice: fluffy, yellow rice with nice small chunks of pork, onions, a bean I could not identify - dark red and about the size of a large lentil), and - somewhat oddly, green olives.

* Chilaquiles - I'm not very acquainted with this perennial so I can't compare it to other renditions. But as it was there for the tasting, I did and found it surprisingly flavorful. There was a nice, tart, green component which may have been either tomatillos or cactus. Not sure. But very nice. Eggs were nicely done, not dried out, and the green peppers actually stayed slightly crisp.

* The star of the buffet was a stewed pork. It wasn't pretty. Just lots of falling apart hunks of meat in a slighly oily liquid. But oh, my was it succulent and nicely flavored. Wonderful and unexpected.

* On the side was a platter of standard, slightly water-logged medium size formerly frozen shrimp and decent cocktail sauce. (It should be noted that sometimes the shrimp are replaced by a much more interesting ceviche or seafood salad with chunks of tomato and avocado, cilantro, etc.

* There are also pleasant if unexceptional pastries to top off the meal.

There is also a full mexican and american breakfast menu available.

Brunch also comes with your choice of an omelet or eggs or eggs benedict. I have learned to tell them to just skip that part. It's completely redundant.

Coffee is standard coffeshop coffee.

Service is very friendly and accomodating, if occasionally a bit lackadaisical.

I suspect that dinner might get really interesting, but have yet to find out.

They are very kid-friendly, producing a single pancake on request and plenty of extra napkins.

If you're an Edgewater, Andersonville, Ravenswood sort - it's worth a look.

5403 N. Clark

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