nxtasy, you are awesome! Thanks to your recommendations for Chicago's provincial Mexican restaurants, we had two fabulous dinners at Salpicon and Mexique last month.
We zipped to Chicago for two nights (and half a day) over Mother's Day weekend.
We picked Salpicon for our first night because we were downtown & tired (our train was late), and didn't want to travel too far for dinner. It was great! I had soup and two appetizers (goat-cheese-stuffed squash flowers and duck tamales); my husband had Tinga Poblana, which turned out to be perfectly cooked slices of pork tenderloin on a bed of spicy chorizo and potatoes surrounded by a gorgeous green sauce. I shared my appetizers with him, and he shared his main dish with me. It was a wonderful combination of tastes, and we liked every bite. The great margaritas and Mexican red wine didn't hurt, either. But the best was the dessert course: he had roasted pineapple with pineapple sorbet, and I had three scoops of ice cream: coconut, strawberry, and cajeta (goat-milk caramel - the best). With a glass of almond-tequila liqueur, this was the best dessert I've had all year.
The next night, we scored last-minute reservations at Mexique (perhaps because it was the night before Mother's Day?). Wow. Mexique is now one of our favorite Chicago restaurants. First, we ordered a seafood tamal appetizer to share. I know this sounds hokey, but my first bite made me say "angels are dancing on my tongue!" It was unbelievably light - almost like seafood mousse in a tamal form. For the mains, he had the Asada (grilled flank steak with spinach and potatoes) and I had the Mar Y Tierra: beautifully grilled scallops plus pork belly with a jamaica (hibiscus) glaze. I'd never seen the point of pork belly before, but now I have seen the light - this version was sublime, and the hibiscus glaze was a subtle and lovely touch. Everything else was amazing, too - the dishes sound simple on the menu, but are cooked perfectly with a marvelous combination of flavors. We were too full for dessert, alas. But other tables seemed to be reveling in large and glorious-looking desserts.
Thanks for championing the great provincial Mexican restaurants of Chicago! They truly deserve the acclaim, and my tastebuds thank you for a great visit. I especially wanted you - and all other Chicago-based posters - to know that your advice helps far more people than just the OPs who start a thread. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
P.S. We've been to another of your recommendations, Mixteco Grill, on a previous trip, and loved it. But I think I like Mexique even better.
1252 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60610
1601 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
1529 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622