(1) Best Mexican and (2) N. Loop dining
My wife and I will be attending a conference in Chicago later this week and staying at the Renaissance Hotel. We are looking for recommendations for good Mexican/Latin fare via an easy El commute, but setting aside Topo, Frontera, Salpicon, Nuevo Leon, what's the next best set of Mexican/Latin restuarantsd (still open) in Chicago?
And we are meeting friends at our hotel at 1 W. Wacker Drive. What's good nearby? Wasn't there a seafood place right across the river? Any help would be appreciated.
You've named some very good Mexican spots that are probably more "L" friendly than my top two choices, which are not as easily reached by public transportation, although it is possible.
My favorite is Sol de Mexico -- amazing moles -- but it's easiest to reach by car.
Fonda del Mar is also excellent, with an emphasis on seafood. It's not a very long walk from the Logan Square Blue Line stop (you can also walk from the stop to Fullerton and catch a bus)
Restaurant Sol de Mexico
3018 N Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60641
Fonda Del Mar
3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Not to scare anybody away, but I wouldn't recommend walking from the el to Fonda del Mar, especially for somebody from out of town. The area has been getting better, but there is still some occasional nastiness that goes on along that stretch of Fullerton. Better to take a cab.
Either of the restaurants BRB mentioned are definitely worth the added travel expense. The quality of the food is as good or better than the places mentioned in the original post and at a much better price point than the downtown venues. Even with the added cab fare, you will still come out ahead.
Given a choice between the two, I think Sol de Mexico would be my pick, although the outdoor patio at Fonda del Mar is very nice. Sol de Mexico is BYOB, but there is a wonderful little Argentinian wine shop and deli about a block north of the restaurant. The shop features a small but exceptional selection of Argentinian wines, and the gregarious proprietor has an extensive knowledge of South American varietals and vintages he is eager to share.
Another recent favorite for regional Mexican cuisine is a Yucatecan Restaurant in Cicero called Xni Pec. It is about 2 blocks from the Cicero Metra station on the Burlington Northern Line, which you can catch from Union station downtown.
here is a link to the train schedule:
Both of these restaurants were discussed in a recent thread as alternatives to FronTopo
Buenos Aires Deli
3100 N Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60641
re: Roger Spark
Good points in all respects. I also prefer Sol de Mexico but I think that is more because I love a good Mole (Sol's specialty, in my opinion) than seafood. To me, the choice between Sol de Mexico (moles) and Fonda del Mar (seafood) depends upon whether your up for moles or seafood.
True, although FdM has a pretty decent mole negro (not as good as SdM's IMHO), and SdM's new menu has a halibut cooked with hojas santas in banana leaves that looks very good. Also, the ceviche appetizer I had at SdM was very tasty (though maybe not as good as FdM's ceviche trio app). I do think the peppery seafood soup at FdM is some of the best I have tasted.
Carnivale has been getting lots of hype lately. Its on Fulton (702 W Fulton St), I drove there so I dont think its public trans friendly. Latin fare, delicious food, loud atmosphere but something to consider! Its about a mile west of you. You could walk or catch a very cheap cab. "offers bold and authentic Nuevo Latino cuisine from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Columbia, Peru, and Argentina." Also, I would call and make reservations, they book fast OR you can sit in the bar area which is still a very cute scene, first come, first serve!
For latin fare, I'd recommend Mas on Division. You would have to take a taxi ($8-10 round trip from loop) but it is very very good
I've also been to Mambo Grill (just once before) and it was pretty good- it is near where you are staying, but more casual. Las Tablas is phenomonal - on Lincoln. I also am a big fan of Adobo Grill
I almost forgot- De LaCosta near Navy Pier has awesome ceviche. I've had a few very good meals there. Definitaly worth checking out!