This may be a board anomaly: two sequential posts on restaurants in Waukegan!
Yesterday, I dined in glorious Waukegan to avoid the Art Fair crowd in Highland Park. Not having any desire to visit dining retreads, we headed for the Mexican seafood restaurant El Ranchito Michoacano highlighted by Zim. This restaurant is located across the street from Odd Lots (the home of discontinued foodstuffs) and next to Popeyes Chicken. In fact, I cut through the Popeyes to get to their parking lot.
We entered the restaurant through their outdoor patio entering the building through a small bar, then into their dining area. They use traditional Mexican tablecloths with a heavy plastic cover. We sat in a side dining area with plenty of windows to suggest an atrium. Televisions were mounted on the walls with Mexican programming.
Complimentary chips, salsa and marinated vegetables were brought to our table after we sat. Especially as this restaurant highlights their seafood, we aimed our meal to take advantage of this aspect. For appetizers, we ordered (6) Fresh Oysters on the half shell for $6, which was fresh and juicy. We order two tostadas: Fish Ceviche and Octopus. I was hoping for Octopus as creamy, tender as I had had at Restaurant La Oaxaquena on Milwaukee Ave in Chicago. El Ranchitos Octopus had more bite, good but I was hoping for creamy. In any case, both Tostadas were good enough to have again. What we really enjoyed was Mejillones al Vapor (6) (New Zealand?) greenshell mussels with onions, cilantro and tomatoes in its own juice. IF you added rice, this could have been a lunch by itself served in a soup bowel. In fact this mussel preparation was quite similar to Restaurant La Oaxaquenas prep for the Octopus.
For the main course, I shared Cazuela de Mariscos seafood rice casserole cooked in a Mexican skillet. Very much a paella-type dish with clams, mussels, shrimps with heads, crab and fish mixed throughout. Taking into the account the appetizers, this really was an ideal dish to share and we still went home with leftovers.
Another companion ordered Combinacion #40: breaded shrimp and fish with rice or fries and marinara sauce. The butterflied shrimp and the fish filets appeared to be breaded on the premises and were cooked to just right. I didnt try the suggested sauce, just ate them as-is.
I usually dont order desert but on this occasion I was contemplating having flan. Unfortunately no flan was available, instead they offered cheesecake and fried ice cream. I declined commenting neither of those deserts were Mexican-enough, which made patrons at other tables giggle.
There was an incident which highlighted the problem of having cable television running in a restaurant. Somewhere in the middle of our meal, we looked up to see a couple engaged in procreation. Certainly, there was no nudity. However, from the breathing rate, facial contortions and vigorous movements, there was no mistaking what was about to come. We looked around to see families enjoying their meal. Hopefully oblivious to the actors.
We really look forward to eating here again and exploring the menu further. Next time I will try to the Chile Relleno, which Zims contact had highlighted. On this occasion, we were the only non-Hispanic party in the restaurant. As we were leaving, the waitress thanked us for coming as well as the hostess, the busboy and several other staff. Perhaps they do this to everybody, something none of us experienced before and we like it.
By the way, the Chef-owner is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.
El Ranchito Michoacano
1310 North Lewis Avenue