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Regional Mexican that gives Rick Bayless a run for his money.

Our Review

We barely suppressed our smirks when our server confided that the only restaurant in Chicago that could compete with Chilapan was Topolobampo. Oh, reeeally? As the food, by chef Jorge Miranda (Las Palmas, Adobo Grill), started to arrive, however, we grew humbler. The Empanada Potosina, corn masa flecked with guajillo chiles and stuffed with queso panela, was airy and delicate, a far cry from Argentina's breadier empanadas. This light touch carried through all our other dishes: the chayote and tomato in a green salad were sculpted into small shells and dabbed with fresh, flavorful guajillo-sherry vinaigrette. Budin Azteca was a layered casserole of feathery, flaky tortillas with chicken, cheese, and a poblano cream salsa—deliciously crusty and, again, unexpectedly light. Sampling over half a dozen salsas in various preparations, we were wowed by the range, and the focused, inventive menu has veggie and sometimes vegan options; desserts include fruit sorbets made locally using the chef's recipes. Hard by the Blue Line stop, Chilapan can sometimes feel like you're picnicking on Popocatépetl, but the vibe inside is intimate and the service exceptional. Plus, it's BYO with no corkage fee.

David Hammond

Features: , , , ,

Price: $$$

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