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Restaurants & Bars 3

Juana's Mexican Buffet

Rene G | Apr 27, 2003 09:56 PM

Juana’s was discussed here a while back but without any mention of the food. Here’s a report from a recent visit. This might be the best food deal in Chicago. Juana's Mexican Buffet offers an amazingly good spread for $3.50 (plus tax and beverage). You pay first at the cash register, proceed to the buffet in the rear, grab some plastic utensils and a plastic plate, and dig in. At the buffet you'll be asked if you ordered a beverage. Both soft drinks and beer are available but you need to pay in advance. Your beverage, some tortillas, and napkins will be delivered to your table.

Almost everything is real down to earth, no frills cooking. None of the dishes are identified and little English is spoken but the atmosphere is quite friendly. A number of the dishes are very good indeed. There was a nice posole with abundant hominy and tripe in a rich red oily broth. Bowls of halved limes and chopped onion were provided. Decent rice and beans provide a good base. Chicharron guisado, pork skin in a very good spicy tomatillo sauce was nice. Pollo en mole was very tender thighs in a rather sweet dark sauce. Picadillo, chopped beef with a few chilies and potatoes, was excellent. Chicken thighs in a spicy red chili sauce were another highlight. Pollo frito looked fine but I didn't get around to trying it. Likewise for what looked like corn straight out of the can. Another good dish was zucchini stewed with tomato and onion, There was at least one other guisado, probably long cooked pork in a very different sauce. Most of the stew-like dishes were very good and probably even benefited from a little time sitting on the steam table.

About 10 salads and fruits were available. I was shocked at the high quality of the mixed greens, with at least 4 fresh lettuces and endives. Unfortunately the only dressing available was a bottle of off-brand lite blue cheese dressing. Just squeeze a couple limes instead. There was a very homemade-tasting potato and egg salad in a sweet mayonnaise that I enjoyed. A cold zucchini, carrot, and tomato in vinaigrette was good as were jalapenos en escabeche. Macaroni salad and a shredded carrot salad didn't do a lot for me. There were also a couple of salads with marshmallows as a main ingredient that I wouldn't have eaten on a dare. Several pastries were available for dessert.

Some of the dishes, especially a couple guisados, were so good I would highly recommend them regardless of price. When you consider it's all you can eat for $3.50 it's an astounding value, bordering on embarrassing.

Juana's Mexican Buffet Restaurant
"Todo lo que se pueda comer por solo $3.50*"
* No incluye bebidas
2406 S Western Av
Chicago
773-523-4166
Mon-Fri 11-8, Sat-Sun 11-11

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