Armed with family recipes and more than 17 years of expertise in the Chicago restaurant scene, chef Marylou Marquez fills Caliente Mexican Restaurant's bustling kitchens with dishes inspired by Guadalajara, Jalisco. Veracruzana tomato sauce lends filets of fish an earthy tone, and spicy chile de arbol and ranchera sauces complement enchiladas and tender grilled steaks. Fruit-filled cinnamon-sugar tacos, and flan with Mexican eggnog top off gustatory forays as diners admire the dining room's photo mural of rustic kitchen scenes and tropical fruit.
Before a wall hung with sparkling silver tinsel, karaoke singers, salsa dancers, and Mexican guitarists take the stage throughout the week, serenading diners and besotted tostadas alike. Caliente also caters special events and wraps up entrees for handy to-go ordering.
Taco Village's menu reads like a love letter written to fresh, authentic Mexican fare decorated in signature sauces and spices. The taco plate partners refried beans with rice ($7.95) and loaded nachos banish hunger while wearing a crown of refried beans, jalapeño peppers, melted cheese, guacamole, and sour cream ($6.50). Taco Village chefs are well-versed in classic dishes, such as cheese quesadillas ($4.75), pork tamales ($1.95), and tortas ($5.95), all of which can be painted with six freshly prepared salsas for edible art. Stomachs suffering from black holism can be finally filled with the approximately 20-inch, 5-pound El Jefe burrito. If El Jefe vanishes in less than 10 minutes, wallets get off scot-free. Breakfast options are available all day, and homemade horchata slakes thirst ($1.59).
When you get your first plate of Taqueria Los Comales’ signature Mexico-City-style tacos, you might be surprised by their size. Each double-wrapped taco is small enough to fit into your hand, a fact owner Camerino Gonzalez specifically had in mind when first making them in Chicago’s Little Village in 1973. Rather than have clients try just one of his signature meats, he wanted to allow guests to sample a wide variety of different options. Cooks stuff the soft tortillas with al pastor served in a secret marinade as well as more adventurous taqueria staples such as tongue or beef tripe. The restaurants’ homemade salsa and their own signature mix of pickled carrots, cauliflower, and jalapeños enhance these flavors, making meals as satisfying as the discovery that you’re tax exempt because of your cool haircut. Alongside the traditional tacos, chefs grill up meats for tortas, burritos, breakfast, and dinner platters, all of which can be paired with the shop’s glasses of creamy horchata or a range of Mexican and domestic beers.
In the kitchen of El Sombrero Restaurant, Chef Ignacio "Nacho" Suchil prepares Mexican favorites such as big burritos, corn-tortilla enchiladas, and fish tacos made with icelandic cod and lime. While live music plays in the dining room, he splashes housemade creole sauce onto grilled shrimp and tosses skirt steaks onto blazing grills. El Sombrero Restaurant augments its eats with a game room, outdoor seating, and a lunch buffet on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The chefs at Don Juan Restaurante charm bellies with Mexican cuisine paired with more than 50 varieties of tequila. At outdoor tables, stardust spices dishes from a seasonal menu that changes weekly. A private party room gives tails space to pin themselves on donkeys as guests entertain themselves with seafood nachos and six genres of margarita. Brews imported from Mexico's frostiest beer rivers wash down sizzling fajitas, tacos, and heaps of fresh guacamole, and live entertainment marinates meats in the flavors of music.
Splash Landings's year-round indoor water park brims with swimmers of all ages and skill levels enjoying its watery attractions, which range from a zero-depth entry pool for kids, a relaxing whirlpool, and speedy slides. Soaring above the pool are vintage model airplanes sporting vintage model water wings, and lifeguards stand throughout the facility to ensure tykes are protected. The staff also prepares visitors for safe splashing with a wide array of swimming lessons offered year-round.