bar cheap food

Now Open — The Mexican

Saturday, December 05, 2015 tgoandco

 Perky, fun and tasty best describes The Mexican — a new dining spot near the corner of Halsted and Armitage. With a menu of $12-$14 for most entrée items and $4 starters like a beef or vegetarian Empanada, this is a foodie adventure you will like.

The Mexican is a cozy little establishment that is reminiscent of the fondas that pepper throughout Mexico and Latin America. These family-run diners serve up authentic, home-style cuisine and are usually the hot spots for the locals. The Mexican follows that tradition well with a menu that is delicious and very, very affordable.

Great vibes.

The Mexican has a wonderfully warm glow enveloping the place with textured surfaces, exposed brick, natural and distressed wood. The interior is a mix match of colors in hues of creams, deep pepper red, orange and turquoise. Lots of kudos should go to the design firm that did the wall treatments. The walls are really lovely. I wasn’t the only person taking pictures. The space is informal, small and cozy with a banquet on one side of the room. The main room sits about 65 people with an additional overflow/party room in the back. That room sits close to 25 and has a fireplace. It is perfect for family events during the holidays, birthdays, shower parties or other events. The bar in the back of the main dining room sits 8 comfortably and has full menu service so one can catch a meal and have a cocktail.

It is very casual and unpretentious and is void of the usual kitsch and cliché of many Mexican places, you will not find sombreros or refried beans. Instead, you will find a selection of appetizer and meal items that are lighter and healthy. The guacamole is a perfect example: it is large sized chunks of avocado mixed with cilantro, garlic and tomato. It has more of a salad like texture than that of pummeled mush. It has no fillers that I have experienced in other guacamoles — this was a favorite.

While there are margaritas and tequilas, many of the specialty drink items use mescal to give them more of a unique and smoky flavor. These Mezcalitas pair wonderfully with the menu. The Pineapple-Serrano Mezcalita has grilled pineapple with lime and pilocillo syrup. One wonderful aspect about The Mexican; the syrups, flavorings and mixes used in their cocktails are homemade. The Smoky Mango Mescalita with ancho chile syrup is a cocktail one should not miss and is very much unique to menu. In fact, many of the drink items are well worth trying — so yes, you will want to become a regular.

A Great Date Spot.

You will not break your holiday budget dining here. If you are a college student and going to the local DePaul campus up the street, you will find this is extremely convenient. Appetizers start at $4 for a vegetarian or Beef Empanada. If you pair that with the Guacamole, you will have a nice, light meal. The empanadas are baked (not deep fried) and come in a house made puff pastry. They Vegetarian Empanada had great chunks of zucchini, corn with white beans and Oaxaca cheese — they will rock your socks off. It is great first date fare. Should the date be going well — share the Pollo Rostizado — a Mexican Roadside Chicken. A whole chicken meal for two is less than $25. Most of the entrée items on the menu are around $12-$14.

You will find they have a daily specials — Wednesday is Mole night. It was fabulous. I had a Red Chile Pork Chop from the Wednesday specials with a Red Chile Mole. The presentation was simple yet beautiful. The favors of the mole were exceptional — deeply rich, very smooth and very gravy like for the grill chop. It came with a salad and smashed potatoes. The mixture of flavors blended extremely well with the pork—one really wanted to lick the plate. This is a meal I intend to have again and again. Note to those with food allergies — this particular mole has a mixture of walnuts, almonds and sesame along with red chiles. If you have allergies to nuts or any other allergies, make sure you ask. The menu is not large for vegetarians — but the kitchen will accommodate and can suggest items that can be made equally well for those not eating meat.

Service is great. As the place is small, there is a lot of hands-on, pitch-in activity. Donna and Louis are the regular servers that work the dining room. Both are really on top of their game. They know the menu inside/out and can answer any questions. The can point you into a direction should you get overwhelmed by menu options (of which there are plenty). It very much feels like a family. The manager Victor greats you at the door and you instantly feel like a regular. Should you like a reservation, email him at or go to open table. The open currently at 4:00 but hours will be expanding soon to include lunch and brunch. They are located at 1967 N. Halsted on the East side of the Halsted and just South of Armitage. The phone is 312-460-3200.

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