Sunday, May 2, 2010


You don’t need a plane ticket south these days to get great Mexican Street food.

Alfredo Sandoval, managing partner of Mercadito at 108 West Kinzie and Alfredo's younger brother and chef, Patricio, the mastermind behind the finger food menu, serve up some of the most authentic Mexican street food in all of Chicago.

All through my lunch today, I found myself having flashbacks of Mexico, especially the little Taqueria stand I lived at in Toluca.

My food was SO GOOD – the flavors a perfect balance of hot and spicy. I may even dream about this food in Technicolor tonight because the colors and the presentation were also picture perfect.

I never drink at lunch but this day was the exception. They have a lot of out of the ordinary drinks on their menu (thanks to inspired cocktail consultants The Tippling Brothers). The Margarita was a “made from scratch original” and was mixed with Organic Agave nectar to deliver the kill. I could so get caught up in Cinco de Mayo Margarita madness if I had one more and believe me, I was tempted.

On this 72 degree every so perfect and sunny day in April in Chicago (wow – that was a mouthful), the restaurant, with it’s huge floor to ceiling windows, was opened up to a tiny street patio where there were maybe a half a dozen or so tables for twosomes.

Carnitas is one of my all time favorite Mexican dishes, so I tried them along with a salsa verde made with tomatillo, chile Serrano and caramelized red onion.

The carnitas were delivered with a spicy slaw topping and toasted peanuts and it was love at first bite! The michoacan style braised Berkshire pork was some of the best that I have had anywhere. Don’t even want to know what my calorie count was because it was so amazing I didn’t care. Just started my weekend cheat about 5 hours early!

The prices are a great with most lunch entrees at around $9.00.

I’m batting 100% right now. How can it be that I’ve had three outstanding lunches in the last three weeks? Chicago is definitely a remarkable food city and I’m trying for number four next week.

Put Mercadito on your list of places to try this summer. I’ve had reports that the Sunday brunch is exceptional. Ask for Mallory when you get there. Not only did she give me really impressive service but also offered some great insight into the menu.

With the long list of other things on the menu that I am hungry to try, Mercadito is on the top of my list of recommended places to go for out- of- towners during the restaurant show this month.

Bon Appetit and Salud to the brothers Sandoval!