Authentic Mexican Cuisine At Zocalo Chicago

A sign displaying the name of Zocalo Chicago

This weekend, I got to have some of the most authentic Mexican cooking that I’ve had outside of Mexico. It was at Chicago’s own Zocalo, a beautiful restaurant located on Ontario Street. The unassuming exterior leads to a beautiful and warmly decorated interior, filled with authentic Mexican art and photos of famous Mexican people. The food served there literally took me back to Mexico; as a Mexican-food-lover, I didn’t expect any food to be able to take me back there. The freshness, the spice, and the wonderful mixing of authentic flavors came together in a wonderful dinner. 

A trio of Guacamole

To start, we dined on a trio of guacamoles. In order from left to right, they were a fruit guacamole (featuring guava, mango, habañero, and chopped walnuts), a rojo guacamole (sundried tomatoes, roasted onion, and topped with a jalapeño salsa), and a traditional guacamole. All three were delicious, but the traditional was actually my favorite. I’m crazy for spicy food, so I loved the guacamole rojo too. The guacs were a good sign, since nailing the fundamentals of a culture’s cuisine is the foundation of adding a signature spin to it.

fish appetizer at Zocalo chicago

Since I went over the weekend, before I started my conversion to veganism, I sampled the Ceviche Playero (beach ceviche) which featured cured tilapia with roma tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, roasted red pepper, orange, and avocado. Now only was the dish beautiful to look at with it’s multiple colors and ornately stacked plantain chips, it was absolutely delicious. The citrus flavor brought out the natural flavor of the fish without overpowering, a balance that is hard to reach with delicate tilapia.

chile relleno in sauce with rice and beans

When I saw that they had chile rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with meat or cheese and fried) on the menu, I instantly knew what I wanted to get. Our waiter informed me that the ones at Zocalo were covered in puff pastry and baked, which I thought was odd at first; when I tried them, my thoughts about chile rellenos flew out the window. It was flaky, the pepper was perfectly al dente, and the cheese inside had melted. Absolutely wonderful. The rice and beans were the perfect and traditional compliment to the meal.

zocalo chicago flan

For dessert we had a delicious flan that literally looked like a piece of art you could hang on the wall. It was eggy, creamy, and one of the best flans I’ve ever had in the states.  I also had a spiked coffee with tequila and kahlua, so that about put me to sleep. But it was absolutely delicious when paired with the flan.

One of my favorite parts about Zocalo is that it’s two minutes from the highway so it’s easy to go to and then venture back home without hectic downtown driving.

Who? anyone who enjoys authentic Mexican cuisine
What? a restaurant that transports you to Mexico with its food and atmosphere
Where? 358 W. Ontatio St., Chicago, Illinois
When? Mon-Thu 11:30 am – 10 pm, Fri 11:30 am – 12 am, Sat 5 pm – 12 am, Sun 5 pm – 10 pm
How much? Around $35 per person excluding drinks and gratuity

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