Monday, May 4, 2009

We love our chips and salsa -- La Estancia, Bloomingdale

The husband and I are real Mexican food fans. I for one have been devouring salsa at a rapid clip since childhood, and the man of the house never met a burrito he didn't like (well, that's not entirely true, but).

Of course, in the US you tend to get bland, Americanized versions, especially at large chains. Or, you get "Tex Mex," which is a tasty varietal all its own, but not really authentic.

We had passed La Estancia, 237 E Lake St in Bloomingdale, multiple times. And we had a coupon. (Hey, we love a good deal.) So when cravings for tacos hit on Saturday, we decided to give it a whirl.

The restaurant is nicely decorated, with lots of rich wood tones and Diego Rivera-esque paintings full of calla lilies. The waitress was a bit slow to approach our table the first time, but provided us with good service thereafter.

The chips and salsa -- always a good indicator of how the rest of the meal might go -- were a nice surprise, with crunchy, warm, thicker corn tortilla chips as opposed to the thin-and-crispy flour variety. The salsa was thick but not chunky, clinging to the chips well and with just the right amount of heat and a great flavor.

The menu had a nice variety on it, and I was pleased to see arroz con pollo, which every Latino grandma makes but is uncommon at Mexican restaurants. My husband had some sort of combination platter -- I think it included an enchilada and a chimichanga. He reported it all being very tasty. I hemmed and hawed and decided on steak burritos -- naturally I got three slightly smaller ones instead of one gargantuan one. The steak was tender, and it was filled with onions, peppers, beans and cheese. The rice was good enough; the refried beans on the side were nothing special.

All in all, prices were reasonable, the food was tasty, and man did I enjoy that salsa. While I'd still choose Laredo's Embassy of Mexican food first, it's a pain to get to. La Estancia, on the other hand, is an easy trip and very good in its own right. If you're looking for quality Mexican in Bloomingdale, I can recommend it.

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