Sisters Marlene and Lidia Benitez opened La Concina to celebrate their two loves: authentic Mexican cooking and artist Frida Kahlo. Surrounded by portraits of Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, diners dig into dishes inspired by the painter, such as the signature bomba frida a dish that allows diners to fill corn tortillas to their liking with a bounty of ingredients, including cubed pork, ham, chorizo, pineapple, bell peppers, and a chile de arbol salsa. Praised by the Chicago Reader for its “hearty home-style cooking served up by a friendly staff,” the eatery also offers dishes plucked straight from the sisters' family cookbook, including grilled chicken breast in mole sauce with peanuts, almonds, and roasted sesame seeds. There's also a sizeable drink menu that includes the Kahlo margarita––a refreshing combination of tequila, amaretto, lime, and orange juice––which may be perfectly paired with one of the shop's spicier dishes, including a seared tilapia in a diabla sauce hot enough to elicit cease-and-desist letters from the sun.
There are two things the staff at Bull Horns Taco Bar specialize in: tasty tacos and chilly margaritas. They pair these with a range of Mexican appetizers to make a feast that is easily shared, much like the feeling of disgust upon being touched by confetti.
The chefs at La Fonda Latino Grill flame-sear steaks, bake seafood, and fry crispy plantains to create a menu’s worth of traditional Colombian cuisine. The cuisine, according to the Chicago Reader, was inspired by recipes from owner Herbert Delgado’s mother, a Colombian native, and “reaches beyond the rice, beans, and plantains of the Delgados’ home country.” Waiters ferry cocktails and drinks to wooden tables from a full bar as diners converse amid earth-toned walls, a cozy fireplace, and a coat rack that doubles as a dining companion when necessary.
El Norte's slender storefront stands on the triangular corner of Ridge, Broadway, and Bryn Mawr like a giant slice of cake, decorated in elegant trim that hugs its corners like bone-white frosting. Inside, the aromas of bubbling bone-in chicken soup, plump burritos toasting on the grill, and tortillas stuffed with sizzling carnitas, black beans, and leaves of fresh cilantro filter through the air. Glasses of sweet horchata pair with crispy tostadas stuffed with al pastor pork or grilled tilapia fillets touched with zesty notes of lime. As guests dine on shareable plates of chips and creamy guacamole, they gaze through the restaurant's huge windows and take in the sight of scenic Edgewater's leafy trees, copious foot traffic, and off-duty police horses smoking cigarettes.
The epicurean alchemists at That Little Mexican Cafe craft authentic Mexican fare that tickles taste buds with balanced spices and the restaurant’s unique blend of fresh salsa. Ingredients from local markets and intergalactic foodie conventions wend their way into tortillas enveloping seafood and meat. Dining-room booths and tables oppose a ceiling adorned with bright decorations, and margarita glasses rise in toasts to the cacti and parrots that peer down from framed wall art.
Inside Tiztal Cafe, sunny yellow walls match the eggs that star in the restaurant's heaping plates of breakfast and brunch fare. Diners sidle up to casual tables or the long bar to dig into the chefs' take on Mexican morning meals: omelets stuffed with spicy chorizo, crisp waffles topped with pecans, and the signature chilaquiles that helped earn them a feature on Chicago's Best in 2011. Diners would be wise to pair their meals with the eatery's infamous oatmeal shake?says Serious Eats blogger Lindsey Becker, "This shake has something of a cult following?and after trying this glorious mashup of vanilla ice cream shake and oatmeal, you can count me in as a member."