Taste of Mexico Tastes Delicious
A casual dinner with the in-laws turns into a Taste of Mexico at the local store-front restaurant.
My husband and I feel lucky to have his parents living nearby, so it is often a treat to have dinner together. And it's always a treat to find someplace new. So where to go? How about Mexican!
We headed to Taste of Mexico and found it to be a great little restaurant, reminiscent of one of those wonderful hole-in-the-wall spots you might find in the city. Located at 2661 Shermer Road in the same small strip mall as Marios's Pizza, Taste of Mexico offers home cooking, reasonable prices and delicious local flavor all served with a smile. Although it has apparently been there for three years, we have only recently discovered it.
Mexican flags and artwork decorate the walls, giving the bright interior a warm and comfortable feeling. A bulletin board by the front door is tacked with business cards and boasts an autographed picture of Rick Bayless claiming that Taste of Mexico serves "The Best Chicken Soup on the North Shore." When we visited, a TV in the corner was tuned to a Spanish channel, and although I found the background noise slightly annoying, it did add to the Mexican atmosphere.
Only four tables allow for seating, so carryout must be big. For our group, we pulled two of the four tables together in front of the windows, where it was a little chilly. The tables were covered with clear plastic over colorful tablecloths and sported cheery sunflowers. Bottles of rojo sauce (smoky!) and verde sauce (hot and slightly sweet) sat on the tables along with a small container of very hot and spicy vegetables.
Our waiter brought chips and salsa to the table and we helped ourselves to fountain drinks. Imported sodas (Jarrito, Sidral and Sangria), canned Sprite, Coke and Diet Coke, and Aguas Frescas (Fresh Fruit Water ) are also available, but no alcohol is sold on the premises. Our waiter could not do enough for us and he also seemed to be quite involved with the food preparation. He was very attentive, bringing us plates of delicious food, refilling our chips and water glasses and checking to make sure everything was OK. (We could have used small plates for our chips and salsa—next time I'll ask for them)
We ordered guacamole, which was fresh and delicious. My son took Rick Bayless' recommendation and ordered the chicken soup. The small size arrived in a tremendous bowl and came with sides of onions, cilantro, diced jalapeno peppers and limes. Absolutely delicious! A great bargain, too, at $4.50. It could easily be a meal in itself, however my son also ordered the pork tacos, which also looked (and tasted) great. I ordered the Camarones al Ajillo (Shrimp with garlic and gaujillo sauce), which was one of the priciest items on the menu at $11.99 and very tasty with lots of garlic and Ajillo peppers, which were more sweet than hot. Delish! It came with refried beans and Mexican rice, lettuce and tomato.
My husband and father-in-law ordered fajitas ($9.50) and asked for them hot. They were apparently very hot, so beware—if you ask for hot you are going to get it! They devoured them all, along with the refried beans, rice and corn tortillas. My husband also ordered a small Lengua (beef tongue) taco, which came with cilantro and onions, and a stuffed pepper taco, which came topped with lettuce and tomatoes. I had never tasted beef tongue before so I tried a bit, but found it spongy and a little weird. Maybe if I didn't know what it was I would have liked it.
My mother in law, who has discerning taste, was impressed with the freshness of everything, and loved her vegetarian burrito plate ($7.50).
For dessert, Taste of Mexico offers Flan, Gelatinas (jello) and Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) and offer large cookies and some Mexican candies at the counter. I tried the flan, which was my first time eating the dish. It wasn't quite what I had expected—I think I was imagining something more like crème brulee.
Breakfast and lunch may be faster paced, but since meals are made to order, we had plenty of time to munch on chips and salsa (smooth and not too spicy) and chat while we waited for our dinners to arrive. The night we were there, only two people were working—our waiter, who appeared to be one of the cooks as well, and someone else in the kitchen. I wouldn't consider it fast food, but it is made to order.
Open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., Taste of Mexico serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu, which is served all day, includes Huevos Rancheros (Sunnyside up eggs on a corn tortilla with ranchero sauce), Breakfast Burritos, Breakfast Tacos filled with scrambled eggs, Huevos con Choriso (eggs with Mexican sausage) and more. Top price for breakfast is $6.50.
You can fill up at lunch with a taco for $2.00 or a Torta Sandwich (made with soft torta bread and your choice of filling) for $4.25 to $5.00 or Burritos (which are huge!) from $4.50 to $5.95. I have a feeling they get a lot of traffic from Glenbrook North high school students. It's a great place for students studying Spanish to practice, while grabbing a good lunch, because the menu is in Spanish and English.
Although it's definitely not fancy, if its good food you're looking for and you like Mexican cuisine, this is the place to get it—and at very reasonable prices.