Friday, August 31, 2012

Estrella Negra

2346 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL

My friend had walked by this place a number of times and wanted to try it, so we went there for lunch today. Wowzers. Delicious. The interior is indeed funky and bohemian and vaguely hippy-esque, but not in an eye-rolling way. The music, on this occasion at least, was all 90s, all the time, but I didn't really mind. Perhaps the best sense I can give you of the ambiance is that Portishead didn't sound out of place. The food seems to be eclectic Mexican - fresh ingredients, well seasoned, but with some quirks, like the use of muenster, parmesan, and goat cheese.

The menu is tantalizing. I was seriously struggling to make a decision, because everything sounded awesome. I finally settled on the el valiente tacos with chicken - as it describes it, three warm tacos sauteed with bacon, onion and jalapenos, topped with muenster cheese, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro and served with a side of salsa verde. They were out of this world. The chicken was moist and juicy, the tortilla was soft and warm, the salsa was bangin' and the flavor combination was pure bliss. But I have to tell you, it was somewhat eclipsed by the appetizer that arrived beforehand - the pozole (you get to pick a starter). Oh. my. god. It was slammin'. Perfect balance of rich chicken, fluffy hominy, and the tang of lime. Out of this world delicious.

My friend ordered the tamales (one of each). They were good, but not jaw-droppingly so. The masa was light and fluffy, but it still somewhat overwhelmed the fillings (which were quite good). We started things off with some chips and salsa, settling on the Roja. Our server warned us that it was quite spicy, and it definitely had some kick to it, but it wasn't painful. The fresh chips were crispy and light and quite good. My friend also got himself a coffee to go at the end of our meal. They do pour-over, and while I didn't get to try it, it smelled fantastic.

I definitely want to come back. It's a BYO, they serve brunch until 2 (we were there at 2:30 and they gave us brunch menus), and those ceviche tostadas are calling my name.

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