At Las Palmas in Wicker Park, it’s a family affair. Marco who hails from a small town in Mexico is the one who started it all and instilled his passion for food to his son Rick who is now the main man in charge at Las Palmas.
You won’t find the typical Mexican dishes on the menu, instead there is a cornucopia of dishes celebrating the fusion of several different cultures.
My girlfriend and I started the evening out with a couple of appetizers as suggested by Rick. The crab cake and a season item- a hallowed out mini pumpkin stuffed with shrimp and scallops bathed in a creamy sauce of deliciousness. Both were good, the crab cake was nice and crispy atop a bed of diced avocado and jicama, but the pumpkin wins for originality, taste, and plating. Iron Chef anyone??
Drinks are stellar. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them but the Eco Margarita was a stand out, as was the Coconut Mojito, the Watermelon Mojito, and the, well um, you get the idea- they are all pretty great. Not that I sampled every one of them, I’ll save that for next time...
For the main event, we shared a dish called Enchayotadas- corn tortillas stuffed with grilled chayotes, carrots, portabella mushrooms, and crispy corn chips in a creamy jalapeno-tomatillo salsa topped with melted Chihuahua cheese, crema Mexicana, queso anejo and a garlic vinaigrette salad. Is your mouth watering yet? Yes, it’s a vegetarian dish, but it is the farthest thing from you typical ‘token’ vegetarian meal that you might find at other places. This is the bomb! That sauce, I would like to take a bath in it, it’s that good. It’s also very filling, so just be warned that they don’t skimp on proportions at Las Palmas.
If you are a mole fan, it’s worth noting that Marco has won some awards for his recipe and it’s usually served with their rack of lamb dish called Borrego. If you ask really nicely, they just might give you a side of it to try. It was a perfect smoky, bitter accompaniment to the creamy sweetness of the Enchayotadas.
By the time dessert arrived I was ready to burst but couldn’t resist trying the house made Don Julio butter pecan ice cream served with some apple compote and brioche. Not too shabby! Delicious with the Cafe Chiapaneco- fair trade Mexican coffee with a hint of Mexican cinnamon.
All in all I was quite impressed with Las Palmas. I was expecting more typical Mexican fare, but was pleasantly surprised with their twist on old classics. I can’t wait to come back and try Marco’s sangria, a recipe he got originally from a Spaniard that he has tweaked to perfection over the years. If it’s anything like the other drinks, I’ll be one happy camper.
1835 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Photos: Vanessa Sherwood