The neon lights and bright colors at Grande Jake’s Authentic Mexican Grill’s three Chicago-area hubs hint at the menu’s dedication to spicy eats. Chefs scoop grilled steak, chorizo, and chicken into burritos, then douse them in melted chihuahua cheese and salsa ranchera. Homemade tamales burst with pork or chicken, and the pollo asada al carbon tops a 12-ounce char-grilled chicken breast with mole or green sauce. Refried beans, spanish rice, and chips serve as supporting actors to entrees, and the creamy Mexican-style custard in flan finishes dinners more sweetly than a dinner mint delivered by a troupe of newborn kittens.
The chefs at Rancho Nuevo look to Mexico’s Jalisco region when crafting their recipes. A veritable paradise on earth for the culinary-minded, Jalisco boasts lush gardens filled with chili peppers and freshwater lakes teeming with shrimp and fish. The chefs use all of these and more to whip up soft-shell tacos, overstuffed burritos, and sizzling fajitas, favoring homemade sauces and fresh produce over store-bought mixes and digital holograms of vegetables. The aromas of shrimp, catfish, and crab waft into the sunlit dining room as guests dunk crispy tortilla chips into mountains of guacamole. Between bites, they clink together glasses filled with tropical cocktails, spicy micheladas, and freshly made horchata.
At Rudy’s Mexican Grill in Grayslake, traditional Mexican cuisine pairs with signature margaritas. The large menu includes seafood specialties such as ceviche or red snapper with shrimp along with classic favorites such as tacos filled a choice of four types of meat.
Walls the color of frozen margaritas and fresh guacamole surround visitors to Tipsi Monkey, their electric green hue mirroring the energy of the restaurant's busy goings-on. But despite the game-watching nights, Vegas nights, and dance parties filling its schedule, Tipsi Monkey is all about the food. Classic Mexican food dominates the menu, including carnitas slow-cooked for three hours, and chorizo and potato tacos. A bevy of aged tequilas adds a piquant note to meals and keeps the steam-powered avocado-masher running.
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.