Con Todo Cantina y Cocina - Chicago
Chef Jonathan Zaragoza -- chef at Con Todo Cantina y Cocina -- is probably best known as one of the members of the Zaragoza family, who have for years owned and operated the nationally famous Birrieria Zaragoza. The birria (stewed and roasted goat meat) from the Zaragoza family has been honored with much attention from the local and national press...and Jonathan's menu at Con Todas takes off in some new and exciting directions.
Guacamole is on the menu, of course (!), but we prefer some of the lesser-known starters, like Sikil P'ak, an ancient Mayan dip of toasted pumpkin seed, charred tomato, citrus and habanero, into which you can dip crunchy seasonal vegetables.
For entradas -- the "small plates with big flavor -- you're going to like the Fried Alitas, chicken wings brined and smoked and served with Valentina butter, salsa macha and ranchero dressing.
Specialties of masa (corn meal) include the Fish Taco (beer battered fish, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo) and Sweet Potato Sopes (fried masa topped with roasted sweet potato and carrot, black beans and queso fresca).
If you've been to Mexico City, you know that sandwiches are big in the North America's largest city. Chef Zaragoza is turning out CDMX favorites, including the Pamburguesa, with a Slagel farms smash burger, guajillo-stained telera bun, shaved white onion, queso Americano, special salsa and chorizo spicing.
The big entree here is Sinaloa Roadside Chicken, an adobo rubbed and grilled half-chicken with salsa tatemada (a spice blend similar to that used at Birrieria Zaragoza), escabeche (vinegar-y carrots, onions and other vegetables), lime, and tortillas made by hand (the sine qua non of any Mexican-leaning restaurant that expects to be taken seriously).
For sides, there are Black Beans and Fried Rice, but we think you're really going to like Esquites Pozoleros, a puree of cracked hominy and sweet corn, cotija-mayo blend, chilies and lime: fantastic street food raised up a level or two.
For dessert, after what may be a rather piquant repast, the sweet freshness of the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake cannot be beat.