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Ixcapuzalco...no topic of its own? [Chi]


ronnie_suburban
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Ixcapuzalco could be the most discussed Chicago restaurant to not have its own thread here...until now. :smile:

An advanced search for Ixcapuzalco turned up almost 20 threads in which it's mentioned but none where the restaurant is the primary subject.

For those who don't know, Ixcapuzalco is best described as a Haute Mexican Restaurant on Chicago's north side (Logan Square neighborhood?). It is helmed by Geno Bahena who formerly cooked for Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. Like Bayless's restaurants, Ixcapuzalco is one of the jewels in Chicago's Mexican Cuisine crown.

I had a great dinner at Ixcapuzalco last night. One of the threads that came up in the aforementioned search was entitled "The Best Margaritas in Chicago." Frankly, I haven't had margaritas at enough places to claim that those served at Ixcapuzalco are the best. However, they are clearly worthy of consideration. The list of tequilas offered at Ixcapuzalco is extensive and detailed. While traditionalists will, in all likelihood, order their tequila(s) straight, I enjoyed being able to select the tequila with which my margarita would be made with. I ordered mine on the rocks and it arrived at the table already made. But, in a very nice touch, one of my companions ordered hers up and it was shaken and poured at the table.

We tried a bunch of appetizers and they were all distinctive, memorable and delicious. The tostadas de seviche (with Marlin) were fantastic. So too were the stuffed jalapenos, the sopes surtidos (order of 4 each with a different filling) and the exquisite tamales, which just blew us all away.

The entrees were excellent and well-prepared but didn't "wow" me quite as much as the appetizers did. Unfortunately, 2 of the 4 people at the table went with what was probably the safest choice -- carne asada. Still, this was an excellent rendition made with tender, aged ribeye. I ordered the Pato Encacahuatado (duck breast in a peanut sauce), which I liked a lot but didn't love. It was somewhat reminiscent of Thai peanut sauce but without the sweet note. While it was distinctive, I just didn't love it and after the array of diversely-flavored appetizers, the peanut sauce was more or less "one long note" for me. My wife ordered the Puerco En Tinga which I thought was the best of the 3 entrees we sampled. Both the duck and the pork were served with yukon gold mashed potatoes which had been dusted with cheese. Very nice.

We tried 3 desserts, the Chocolate Pecan Bars with home-made Vanilla Ice Cream probably being the strongest of the 3. My wife ordered the Apple-Pear-Cinnamon Empanadas which were served with Home-Made Strawberry Ice Cream. I liked the empanadas a lot and loved the strawberry ice cream. I ordered the Volteado De Pina (also served with home-made vanilla ice cream) and thought that the Pineapple just wasn't quite strong enough to be the featured element of the dish. I encountered a few fibrous bites and other "insoluble solids" while digging through it. Coffee, a custom blend by Intelligentsia, was very nice.

Service was excellent albeit a bit awkward at times. Still we felt like we were being well taken care of throughout our meal. At one point we had a minor problem with our table and were immediately offered another one. We declined. The single factor that led to the awkwardness of service was an odd one--blue water glasses. They were beautiful but nearly opaque. As such, our busser was unable to see their contents and had to continually ask us--at every pass--if we wanted more water, instead of just being able to see if we did without asking. Still, those glasses were so beautiful it would be disappointing to see them removed.

I highly recommend Ixcapuzalco to anyone who is interested in trying truly distinctive Mexican cuisine. While our meal on this night was a bit uneven (most likely due to the way we ordered), I think the place is fantastic and I can't wait to get back there and try out some other items. They specialize in Moles and we didn't even order one last night (for a couple of reasons). That is, absolutely, something I look forward to trying next time, which I hope will be very soon.

=R=

Ixcapuzalco

2919 N. Milwaukee Avenue

Chicago, IL

(773) 486-7340

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I had dinner at Ix a couple of weeks ago-- I always go for the mole of the day and have never been disappointed. We were there on a Saturday, so it was red mole which had great complexity and just the right heat. The duck paired well with it and I enjoyed the bed of mashed potatoes. I've had the quail with other moles there, but prefer the duck. Chicken is another choice, but is too ordinary. The pineapple upside down cake was delicious for dessert, but then I have been craving pineapple.

Ix has declined somewhat in popularity from when it opened, but still shows a brisk business-- now it's possible to get a seat! I prefer it to Chilpancingo, possibly because of the moles, possibly because Ix is walkind distance from my house! It certainly is a welcome respite from the Polish restaurants and lower-end Mexican in the neighborhood. Spice, the Thai place across the street, used to be quite good but has declined to merely passable under new ownership.

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Wow that sounds great.

How do you think it compares both in terms of price and food qaulity to Bayless' spots?

I think they can be easily compared on both counts. Food at Ix is bit cheaper, IIRC, but not by much. Quality...I'd say it's comparable with the specifics having a lot to do with which rates higher on a given trip to either.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 4 months later...

Chicago Magazine's Dish reports that the new location will be 2165 North Western Avenue and that the restaurant will re-open "within a week to 10 days."

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 1 month later...
Have they actually reopened?

My sources say yes. :wink:

=R=

They have indeed, theres a revew in the reader this week (or was it last week?)

Anyhow, they have reopen, but have a different name I think...

Just found this info on the reader website (review was not there though)

Ixcapuzalco/La Bonita Restaurante

2165 N. Western Ave., Chicago, (773) 486-7340.

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