Although Antonius and I have each lived in Chicago for a number of years, we havent explored much of greater Chicagoland not due to any urban snobbery, but rather because we could never figure out where the heck to eat out there. With no insider knowledge, all we could spot were fast-food franchises and a few terrifyingly named places like Tutto Tapas Bistro Bar and Grill or Chateau del Mar. (Yes, these are actual restaurants.)
Now we have Chowhound. Now I can propose a family outing like, Lets go to Lockport to walk along the old canal AND theres a great place for lunch just down the road. Thats what we did today, having some free time coincide with springlike temperatures, and we enjoyed the canal very much, despite the drizzle. The restaurant right there in the handsome old Gaylord building, Public Landing, looked appealing (anyone tried it?), but they didnt offer handmade tortillas, so we proceeded straight to our original lunch destination four miles south down Rt. 171 in Joliet.
Amanecer Tapatío has been amply described in several posts by Mugs from last year, and a further report by dickson d. Ill link to the original post below. Antonius was hoping for a cuaresma special such as tortitas de camerones, but there were none on offer today (as Mugs noted, the menu is limited). Instead, he ordered one of todays specials, albóndigas, and I had the other, mixiotes de pollo. Both were excellent. Antoniuss meatballs were a bit larger than golfballs, served in a delicious, fairly salty broth with a touch of tomato in it, along with chunks of potato and carrot. My mixiotes were two chicken drumsticks cooked inside a foil packet with a complex, well-balanced sauce based on (I think) guajillo chiles and including a little cinnamon and cloves. The accompanying handmade tortillas were fantastic, as were the chips and table salsa. (The beans, though, as dickson d reported, were more lard than bean.) I washed my lunch down with a large agua de jamaica; Antonius had a Mexican coke. For our son they provided an appropriately simple taco with chopped carne asada (he also ate most of my rice).
We were very happy with lunch and decided to go back to the South Loop by driving the length of Archer Avenue, an amusing anthropological experience in itself. (Spotted a place called Luvn Music on Harlem just north of Archer which claims to serve tortas, Cuban sandwiches and jibaritos; anyone know it?)
In old threads Ive seen laments about the lack of response given to reports on the suburbs (or less visited parts of the city). To Mugs, and other intrepid posters: please keep telling us about new places in your towns! Eventually some of us clinging to the lakefront will venture inland, and before we do well search the chowhound archives to find out where to eat. Mugs, thanks especially for discovering and publicizing Amanecer Tapatío.