Mi Tocaya puts on display a confident and unrestrained style of cooking from Diana Dávila that “speak[s] to the soul of cities, states, and Mexico itself.” Mike Sula checks out the new Mexican restaurant in Logan Square and describes the food as “big and bold, and there's always a lot going on in it—it's always in your face.” To start, traditional taco offerings include sweet butternut squash with corn crema; and smoked and shredded beer-can chicken with tequila-simmered prickly pear salsa borracha.
Other seemingly familiar plates are more complicated. Guacamole is sprinkled with black ash from the remains of chile seedings; “Mexican tartare” features seasoned minced seasoned skirt steak; and sweetbreads are fried and served with a salsa Veracruzana. Dávila draws on family for lengua con salsa de cacahuate—“pillow-soft” tongue and seared radishes with a creamy peanut salsa—while enchiladas potosinas, the signature dish of her hometown San Luis Potosí, is given the “proper tang” from a blend of queso cincho and soured queso fresco. Finally, the “intense and complex seasonings” can tire out the palate so Sula recommends sipping on one of the draft cocktails like the elderflower margarita or house-made nitro horchata. [Reader]
Phil Vettel is equally smitten with what’s going on at Mi Tocaya. He calls the menu “pretty impressive,” praising the “generously portioned” tacos that are “as enjoyable to savor as they are daunting to eat politely.” The “must-order dish” that’s “rich in flavor and beautifully composed,” though, consists of braised beef tongue in a “complex and delicious” sauce of peanuts, cured tomato, and chile de arbol. Sweetbreads served with a veracruzana sauce has become one of Vettel’s favorite versions of the dish, while a “fanciful” cactus stew with corn, squash, and fried cheese curds is like Mexican poutine with “flavors [that] merge nicely.” The dessert list is short but sweet and includes a “very good” tres leches cake topped with chocolate ganache. [Tribune]
Elizabeth Atkinson thinks the team at Honey’s has “outdone themselves with the perfect blend of simplicity and abundance” at their upstairs speakeasy, The Hive. The “intoxicating space” is filled with “colorful velvet couches, cozy armchairs and ornate candlesticks.” The simple blackboard menu features three cocktails that rotate daily, including twists on classics such as a “Gin-Gin” with Rhine Hall pear brandy and a “smooth” paper plane with amaro. Guests can also opt for “dealer’s choice” drinks like a “funky” pineapple-infused daiquiri. While there’s “nothing overly showy happening” at The Hive, Atkinson say it’s “the kind of place you can really sink into.” [Time Out]
Ronero offers a “creative take on Latin flavors, with a flair of sex appeal” according to Anthony Todd. A “dark and cool” dining room is the setting for Cory Morris’ plates. Smoked heirloom carrots with queso fresco are “so savory that they could have satisfied as a main course” while “delicious” yucca is smothered in garlic and “way, way better than any potato ever was.” On the meaty side, skirt steak with chimichurri comes out at “exactly the right temperature” and is “seasoned to perfection,” and lamb chops are served with a Peruvian huacatay sauce is both an “exotic and a super-traditional pairing.” Cocktails range from “middling to good” and the overall salt levels can be aggressive but all-in-all, Todd thinks the restaurant has recovered nicely from its bumpy opening. [Chicagoist]