This week The Feed takes a close look at the the food that everyone thinks of immediately when they think about Geneva: Mexican.
Wait, what? But the fact is that Geneva does have some more than solid Mexican food options, ranging from casual taquerias to fine dining.
Table 38 is something of a culinary trip around the world. Thankfully, that trip makes long, languid stops in the most flavorful regions on the planet. The menu at this self-professed "comfort food" restaurant reads like a dream come true for foodies, and there really is something for every taste: the dinner menu has Memphis baby back ribs and a vegetable and quinoa salad sharing space, and a casual Philly cheese steak sandwich exists side by side with more sophisticated fare like a sweet potato gnocchi with a sage and fennel cream sauce.
The Mexican food here is no less inspired: the guacamole appetizer here is infused with fruit, making for a delicious blend of avocado, strawberry, pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro and lime and Baja fish tacos come two to an order, a healthy sized serving of battered fish topped with red cabbage, a spicy white sauce served on corn tortillas.
A lot of suburban Mexican food eateries suffer from "suburbanitis," unfortunately. It's a condition characterized by gloppy, seemingly microwaved burritos topped with, of all things, cheddar cheese. Thankfully, that is not the case here at Tia Maria.
This family eatery, run by brother and sister team Lisette and Ricardo Rubio has been serving the real deal since 1983. These recipes have been passed down to them by their ancestors for generations, though the Rubios aren't above the occasional tweak or innovation: the two claim they were the first to add black beans to Mexican entrees, previously unheard of in the states.
There's plenty of good stuff here on this menu, but Lisette likes a recipe from her mother the most, the Pollo Cream Poblana. For it, shredded chicken is boiled in a cream of poblana pepper, Chihuahua cheese and sour cream, resulting in a not very spicy but very delicious meal.
"El Molcajete" translates to "mortar" as in mortar and pestle, but this Mexican eatery is anything but a grind.
Reading customer comments and reviews of this restaurant is evidence that Genevans are Mexican food savvy. No would-be reviewer stumbles over words like chimichangas or expresses surprise at Chihuahua cheese. Far from it, sophisticated eaters toss around words like "chochoyote," a soup based on a spicy tomato paste served with tortillas. Other customers talk about tacos Campechanos—made with chorizo and carne, these meaty tacos are served with a mix of salsa, baked onion and cheese.
El Molcajete is yet one more testament to the fact that local Mexcian eateries are offering interesting takes on their entrees.
Bien Trucha is such a great approach to Mexican food that it gives excellent Chicago eateries like Mercadito and Los Nopales a run for their money. One of the best things about Mexican food is all the levels on which it works: the taco from the food truck, the quick and dirty burrito from a takeout joint after a night of drinking, the casual dining restaurant entrees.
Bien Trucha is a step or three above all of them and introduces some elements of fine dining to the cuisine. Characterized by a blend of traditional flavors and high end ingredients, Bien Trucha presents classics with new takes, like their pastor tacos with guajillo marinated pork, cilantro, onion, grilled pineapple, and chile morita salsa.
Also amazing is their brochetas, or skewers, like the Pica-Pica, with bacon wrapped shrimp, onion, pineapple, and a chipotle-lime glaze.
Every lover of Mexican food loves the following words: huge and cheap. There is something about the cuisine that allows for giant servings of food to come to your table (and then your belly) for very little money.
Mike & Miguels is no disappointment in this department. The eternally affordable and incredibly delicious restaurant has seen a facelift in recent years, making for a somewhat more inviting dining experience. Those who were in the know, however, never let a little things like appearances stop them.
Now that it's somewhat prettier, every curious Geneva eater should pop in and see what's been cooking. This is Mexican truly lacking in any fuss: chorizo and potato tacos are served alongside hard shell ground beef tacos and fresh, delicious guacamole.
One of the best things about the Mexican dining experience isn't the dining at all: everyone knows that a night out a Mexican eatery means the possibility of margaritas. Or mojitos. Or tequila. Or crisp and refreshing Mexican lagers. You get the idea.
Customers of Sergio's Cantina do rave about the place, but they tend to reserve those raves for the libations, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sergio's offers up eight different mojitos, featuring flavors like raspberry, pineapple or coconut.
Other pours include tropical themes drinks like Mai Tais, Bahama Mamas and daiquiris. If you aren't feeling it just yet, throw back any of their seven margaritas, or a sangria, or any of a dozen beers. If beer isn't interesting enough, get into the Beerita: half a Dos Equis beer mixed with half a frozen house margarita.
Some of these beers are even served Chelada style, which is rimmed with salt and chili powder with fresh squeezed limes. Supposedly, this restaurant also serves food, but between the fully stocked bar and the spacious patio for outdoor dining, it's pretty clear who the star of the show is here.