It began with three sisters leaving their home in the San Luis Potosi region of Mexico. For their trip, the trio packed up their all their belongings, their arsenal of traditional Mexican recipes, and the desire to prosper in their new home of Chicago. They named their new venture El Jardin, which was quite prophetic as their little taqueria grew faster than most gardens, and now they serve authentic Central Mexican cuisine at numerous sites around Chicago under the management of the next generation.
The staff still specializes in tender carne asada, which is so popular the restaurant offers to ship it in vacuum-sealed packs to customers’ homes. The carne asada also appears in the shop’s superburrito dinners, fajitas, and quesadillas, as well as other traditional meats such as tilapia, chorizo, chicken, and shrimp. Chefs begin crafting the fare as early as breakfast and help clients celebrate late into the night with their classic and specialty margaritas that feature more than 40 styles of tequila.
Brightly painted walls, vivid paintings of Mexican life, and flavorful margaritas lend Las Palmas' numerous locations a relaxed, distinctly "fiesta" vibe. As guests slowly unwind with friends, family, or Twister champions over ice-cold Mexican beers and cocktails, the chefs prepare fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos alongside plates of charbroiled meats and seafood. They also whip up vegetarian-friendly options, such as the signature guacamole and enchiladas banana, which they stuff with fried bananas and smother in mole sauce and melted cheese.
Splash Landings Indoor Aquatic Center'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 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.
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.
Yolo Mexican Eatery serves Mexican cuisine the traditional way, meaning less cheese and more peppers. The chefs keep plenty of water in their kitchen to ward off the flames that sometimes erupt from their cache of habanero, pasilla, serrano, morita, arbol, and poblano peppers. Such a variety might seem excessive, but they use every last one to brew the sauces that cover their grilled chicken breasts, marinated shrimp, and fried-plantain enchiladas. To temper the heat that lingers post-meal, guests can crack into BYOB beers or try the homemade vanilla flan, a staple that the Chicago Sun Times calls “irresistible.”
The chefs at Zapatista cull tantalizing dishes from across the culinary regions of Mexico and spice them with piquant sauces and marinades. Diners nosh on fresh meats and veggies inside the vibrant yellow-, green-, and red-walled dining rooms, which teem with wooden tables reposing under hanging star lanterns and candelabra chandeliers. The spacious interior's rounded archways separate the dining areas, and rough-hewn-stone arches stand guard over myriad liqueurs at the bar like Rumpelstiltskin stands guard over firstborns.