DeColores Mexican Restaurant is the worst-kept culinary secret in Pilsen. Shortly after the eatery opened, reviewers began to shout the praises of its family-style Mexican dishes; Chicago magazine even placed DeColores on its 2010 list of the Best New Restaurants, lauding the guacamole as “reason enough for a trip to Pilsen.” The restaurant continued its meteoric rise by earning Bib Gourmand awards in the Michelin Guide Chicago in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
The Reyes family members behind DeColores Mexican Restaurant choose to keep the menu humble, basing many of the dishes on closely guarded family recipes that span generations. Made from a blend of 20 ingredients plied from Aunt Alicia, the menu’s rich, chocolate-based mole won the People’s Choice award at Pilsen’s 2012 Mole de Mayo festival and cook-off. The homestyle flavors of the tampiqueña—grilled skirt steak served with a queso chihuahua enchilada—managed to catch Chicago magazine’s attention yet again, earning a place on the publication’s 2010 list of its 30 Favorite Mexican Dishes in Chicago.
Not every dish comes from the Reyes recipe book, though. The restaurant regularly invites neighborhood residents to submit their own interpretations of traditional Mexican staples, honoring any standouts with spots on the menu. This vibrant community spirit radiates from DeColores’ very walls, which routinely change to accommodate new pieces of Mexican-themed works by area painters. Further supporting the artists of Pilsen, the sound system plays recordings of local musicians between dramatic readings of the restaurant’s reservation policy.
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