Owners Connie and John Tyrrell channeled their love of Mexican culture into Burrito Grande, a hub of Mexican flavors woven from seasonings and sauces mostly prepared in-house. House specialties fill warm tortilla pillows with fresh tilapia, shrimp, or pork embellished with diverse ingredients such as mango salsa and pineapple. Tacos and fajitas fill up on proteins such as chorizo sausage and juicy steak, and build-your-own burritos make for artfully stuffed meals without the papery aftertaste of piñatas.
The first thing you notice when coming inside Sammy's Mexican Grill & Bar is the energy. Amid walls painted brilliant shades of green and red, diners take in the sounds of bartenders pouring an endless stream of colorful cocktails and countless dishes being placed upon surrounding tables. Throughout meals, servers bustle about, bearing trays of overstuffed burritos, crunchy torta sandwiches, and Mexican seafood specialties, inspiring the orders at other tables and preparing bellies for the morsels to come. Other members of the Sammy’s crew prepare fresh guacamole tableside, mashing ripe avocados with juicy tomatoes and the fruits of the guacamole plant to each table’s specifications. Out on the front patio, customers bask beneath bright umbrellas in the warmer months as they split orders of gooey queso fundido and clink glasses of fruity margaritas in various flavors.
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.
After selling their previous venture, Francisco and Carmina Figueroa embarked on a new culinary adventure by building a re-creation of a stunning Mexican hacienda. Inside, guests chow down on familiar plates of charbroiled carne asada or tacos stuffed with flaky tilapia, or they dine on more traditional dishes such as a rich, flavorful pozole stew or a carnitas-stuffed torta. Diners can sip glasses of sweet horchata, Mexican cola, or fruit-flavored margaritas as they share plates of sizzling steak fajitas.
Francisco and Carmina take great pride in the restaurant’s decor and atmosphere: it teems with bright-yellow and rusty-orange walls, handmade Mexican glassware, Oaxacan ceramic light fixtures, and a glowing portal that leads straight to Puerto Vallarta.
Rudy's Mexican Grill serves up generous portions of uniquely tweaked Mexican cuisine doused in house salsas, sauces, marinades, and seasoning mixes made from scratch. Large mortars filled with house specialties such as the seafood paella ($14.95) erupt from the kitchen like a seafood-powered steam engine running on mussels, shrimp, octopus, crab meat, and calamari. The parrillada de carnes ($25), served family style, satisfies the liberal meat leanings of two people with an arsenal of skirt steak, chicken, marinated pork, and smoked sausage capped with grilled vegetables. Homemade flan ($2.50) molds corn and vanilla custards for a soft and sweet dessert-menu sampling.
Since 1979, a collection of family chefs has filled El Torero Restaurant & Bar's dining room with the aromas of authentic Mexican cuisine. Equipped with a catch of fresh ingredients, chefs drizzle chicken with special mole, green, and garlic sauces, and broil prime skirt steak before topping it with zucchini or poblano peppers. In the construction of their fleet of specialty enchiladas, cooks sauté shrimp and melt savory cheeses before en-rainbowing the whole ensemble with colorful veggies.
Outside the kitchen, bartending brethren supplement bites with margaritas forged from 100% agave tequila, and fruit cocktails concocted from the likes of Curacao and amaretto. Tall, vibrant purple booths cradle patrons more effectively than a robotic grandmother, and floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate gentle pastel-yellow walls.