By Lisa Arnett, Kate Bernot and Dana Kavan Gagnon, @redeyeeatdrink
April 25, 2013
A wave of new Mexican restaurants opening over the past two months has us wondering whether there's something in the water. Tequila, maybe? We enlisted a team of taco-and-guac obsessives to fill up and report back on three new entries and got the lowdown to whet your appetite about four others.
2013 W. Division St. 773-687-9620
Since opening about a month ago in the former Sabor Saveur space in Ukrainian Village, Takito Kitchen has tried to shine in an already taco-saturated neighborhood. Setting the casual-but-stylish restaurant apart is chef David Dworshak, formerly of Carnivale, and an intriguing cocktail list of tequila- and rum-based concoctions that are as colorful as the spray-painted mural on the rear wall.
>>Read Kate Bernot's mini-review
New Rebozo Chicago
46 E. Superior St. 312-202-9141
No matter how hyped a suburban restaurant becomes, I rarely end up making the trip from the city to try it out. That's been the case with Oak Park-based New Rebozo. I had heard about the restaurant's signature moles from friends and family members over the years and watched it get rave reviews on "Check, Please!" a few seasons back. Luckily, the Lopez family, who's run the restaurant for 21 years, finally listened to the customers urging them to open a city location.
>>Read Dana Kavan Gagnon's mini-review
1521 W. Madison St. 312-291-9344
This bi-level West Loop restaurant fells more like a slick sports bar, with all the screens and shiny surfaces. But the menu is purely Mexican, from the tacos al pastor to the addictive flan for dessert. Cocktails range from a simple, satisfying house margarita to a Oaxacan manhattan made with cocoa-flavored tequila.
>>Read Lisa Arnett's mini-review
Autentico 5 de Mayo
3223 N. Clark St. 773-880-0082
Between takeout, delivery and a 24-hour breakfast menu, this month-old Lakeview restaurant from the owners of Albany Park's El Gallo Bravo #6 has your cravings for chilaquiles covered. Mexican faves such as enchiladas and tortas share menu space along with American diner classics such as omelets and steak and eggs. For now, it's cash only and BYOB.
Mas alla del Sol
5848 N. Broadway 773-654-1900
This six-week-old Edgewater restaurant—from the same owners as Lincoln Square's Los Nopales--focuses on authentic Mexican dishes such as the namesake carne mas alla del sol (grilled skirt steak with panela cheese, chipotle-tomato sauce and avocado relish) for dinner and huevos rancheros for brunch. The margarita menu is a no-mix zone—it's all fresh-squeezed juices and agave nectar here—and tequilas and mezcals infused with chamomile, hibiscus and pineapple make their way into other hand-crafted cocktails.
Dia de los Tamales
939 W. 18th St. 312-496-3057
"I used to make tamales all the time with my abuela," said Jeni Wahl, who owns Off The Couch Catering with her husband Sam Wahl and executive chef Keith Carlson. When the trio found this kitchen space in Pilsen, they decided to run their catering company out of the back and a grab-and-go tamale station in the front. Some tamales are inspired by traditional Mexican flavors or Jeni's Cuban-American heritage (such as spicy black bean and corn or slow-roasted Cuban pork) while others feature ingredients you'd never expect to find wrapped up in a corn husk, such as cheeseburger and buffalo chicken with blue cheese dressing. All are $3 a pop.
Coming soon! Esencia Urban Kitchen
3351 N. Broadway 773-472-8553
Due to open sometime this spring, this Mexican cafe in East Lakeview will specialize in made-from-scatch Mexican-inspired cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. "It's the way our family eats. We don't really eat tacos everyday; we don't eat deep-fried food every day," said Celia Garcia, who owns the restaurant with Rafael and Mauricio Castro, her husband and son, respectively. "It's simple cooking. Nothing fancy, not upscale." Dishes range from her grandmother's cream of corn soup to her sister's cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork made more than a dozen spices. Sweets are also a specialty here, including bread pudding, cookies, pies and Garcia's signature marshmallows, made in different flavors and shapes. It's BYOB and because the space is quite small—just 18 seats—takeout and delivery are also in the plans.
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