A couple of weekends ago I went to Chicago to visit one of my very best friends who is also my Lady of Honor (much better sounding than Matron of Honor)! The point of the weekend involved very little Chicago exploring and more catching up. However, when you go to Chicago, one of the big decisions is where to eat, since there are so many delicious places to try!
Before I even arrived, C had made reservations for us at Mercadito, a great Mexican restaurant in the downtown area of Chicago with some of her friends. When we arrived we were welcomed into a really unique atmosphere where you just knew you were going to have a fun time - good music with a bright, fun decor!
We sat at a high-top table and immediately began reviewing the delicious drink menu. The first cocktail to arrive literally was made with fire. Not only that, the fire was actually within an inverted lime, so basically the lime skin was containing the fire. When it was placed on the table, the server stirred with fire into the drink and put it out. Quite the presentation, that is for sure!
|Big Nose Goes to Mexico - Herradura blanco, tequila reposado, dark rum, guava, orgeat and FIRE!|
I ordered Misty's Sleeve, a drink with some spice and a big kick to it (which may have had something to do with the Serrano chili!) I seem to be into those recently. Again this is a great drink but with all that spice, I really could only handle one.
|Misty's Sleeve - el tesoro blanco, ginger, hibiscus, valencia orange, chili Serrano, and hibiscus salt|
After my first SPICY drink I went for something a bit different, even though this one did have a bit of a kick as well. This, however, was toned down with the blueberry and mango, which gave the drink a really interesting flavor. The first sip was a bit weird, especially after the first one, but after stirring it up a bit I was able to enjoy the rest.
|Smoky Pablo - cien anos reposado, mango, chili morita, and a blueberry float|
For appetizers we ordered some guacamole. First was a more traditional variety with a tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice and cilantro. The second one we ordered was the toreago, which had chili Serrano, garlic, oregano and a tomatillo pico de gallo, which had a bit more spice to it.
We also ordered a habanero salsa with grilled tomato, garlic and lemon. This was so good - the perfect amount of heat (not just heat for the sake of heat!) so that it had some good spice and also added flavor.
Additionally, we ordered a ceviche that was really fresh and tasty. Accompanying all these great dishes were a never ending bowl of chips that were crispy and salty perfection.
After all that food we were ready for the main course. C and her husband had spoken so highly of the tacos, I could not wait to try them. Instead of ordering entrees we decided to order a couple of different types of tacos to split. The first was a shrimp taco with roasted garlic, chipotle mayo and avocado. These were good, but the mayo I think was a bit heavy. The avocado really helped lighten the bites.
Next we were served the Estilo Baja which is crispy beer battered mahi mahi, Mexican style coleslaw and a chipotle aioli. The beer batter had a great crisp texture, and the mahi mahi was juicy and tender on the inside. I loved the freshness the coleslaw added to each bite. Overall, every mouthful was a perfect combination of flavors.
Even with all that food we still had to sample the dessert menu. Rather than going too crazy we got the bunuelos, which are cinnamon-sugar dusted fritters with a Mexican chocolate sauce. I wanted to really like this, however, there was a syrup over all of the fritters that was flavored with orange, which is a flavor I don't particularly care for. However, I think without the orange this would have been a great way to top off our meal.
All in all, this was a really delicious meal with great drinks all brought together by great service. Mercadito is perfect for big parties because all the great taco dishes are easy to share and the prices are quite reasonable. Even if you are a bit tired walking through the door, you won't be for long because the atmosphere just really makes you want to have a great time.