clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tour Lincoln Park’s Neighborhood Retreat For Northern Mexican Delights

Old Pueblo Cantina debuts in the former White Oak Tavern space

Two skewers of shrimp, onion, red, and green peppers hang on a metal stand over a blue and white plate that contains Mexican rice and refried beans.
Chili-lime shrimp skewers cooked over a mesquite charcoal grill.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

New regional Mexican restaurant and bar Old Pueblo Cantina opened last week in Lincoln Park in the former White Oak Tavern & Inn space. The space goes from New American to featuring dishes from Sonora, a Northern Mexican state that borders Arizona. It’s from Ballyhoo Hospitality, the same company behind Gemini and Walton Street Kitchen.

Old Pueblo Cantina, 1200 W. Webster Avenue, serves a dinner menu from executive chef Miguel Ortiz that highlights five varieties of “cheese crisps,” also known as “Sonoran quesadillas,” such as shrimp and pineapple (Fresno chili, cilantro, pickled red onion) and spicy chorizo (escabeche, lime crema). Taco platters feature house-made flour tortillas, the preferred tortilla of Sonorans, filled with ingredients like crispy red snapper (cucumber-pineapple salsa, cilantro yogurt). Soft or crispy corn tortillas are also available.

Sonoran cuisine calls for cooking over mesquite, and Old Pueblo Cantina is following suit. Diners can order pollo asado (roasted corn, avocado, mole poblano, lime), chili-lime shrimp skewers (chimichurri butter), and carne asada (skirt steak, charred onion, salsa verde) hot off the kitchen’s mesquite charcoal grill. Burritos, chimichangas, and two takes on chile relleno are also on the menu, and there’s a special menu for kids.

Margarita fans are in luck, as the drink menu features five classic and modern selections available by the glass or pitcher. Flavors include the “Old Pueblo Classic” (lime, agave, triple sec), which also comes in frozen form, “Lobo Loco” (cucumber, jalapeño, chili salt), and “Sonoran Sunrise” (passionfruit, raspberry, lime). Drinkers can also expect cocktails like the “El Roadrunner” (mezcal, blood orange, rhubarb, jalapeño), rosé sangria (tequila, strawberry, citrus), and a sizable list of agave spirits.

In-house director of hospitality Brianne Carden designed the 120-seat restaurant that bears a colorful mural of a desert sunrise on the side of the building. Exposed brick, wood furnishings, and bright Mexican decor like hand-painted tiles give the space a rustic sensibility.

Old Pueblo Cantina is open in Lincoln Park. Tour the space and get a peek at food and drinks in the photographs below.

Old Pueblo Cantina, 1200 W. Webster Avenue, Open 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

A corner building with large windows and distressed tile below has a corner entrance with a wooden revolving door and a sign that reads “Old Pueblo Cantina.”
A wooden revolving door leads diners into Old Pueblo Cantina.
A wall-size mural of a desert sunset on the side of a brick building. Large cactuses sit in the front of the painting, with red mountains and a blue sky.
A mural of a desert sunset decorates the exterior wall that faces North Racine Avenue.
A large dining room filled with wooden tables and chairs. Red star-shaped light fixtures hang near the windows on the front and side of the room, and the walls are painted orange. A large bar sits on the right side with around 11 backed high-top chairs.
Old Pueblo Cantina seats 120.
Three wooden tables with four chairs each sit along the front window of the restaurant. Colorful hand-painted Mexican plates hang on an orange wall.
Eye-catching hand-painted Mexican plates hang on one wall.
A long copper-topped bar with a long line of chairs in front of it. Behind the bar is a large television as well as many bottles, glasses, and a slushy machine.
The drink menu offers five margarita options, plus a frozen version of the classic cocktail.
Wooden chairs and tables sit in front of a long, narrow window into a white-tiled open kitchen.
Diners can peek through to the partly-open kitchen to get in on the action.
A stained-glass window with an image of a wolf in the desert howling at the sun.
A stained-glass wolf howls at a stained-glass sun.
Another section of the restaurant with exposed brick and tiled walls. Long brown banquettes line both sides, accompanied by wooden tables and chairs.
Old Pueblo Cantina calls its back room the “Fireplace Room.”
A dining area with exposed brick and tiled walls filled with wooden tables and chairs, as well as long brown banquettes along the walls. Two wooden doors are closed to section off the space from the rest of the restaurant.
Diners can reserve this room, the front dining area, and the whole restaurant for private parties.
A wooden fireplace with painted tiles sits along an exposed brick wall. A wrinkled brown cowboy boot and a potted cactus are on the mantlepiece.
The fireplace is likely decorative, but gives the room a cozy feeling.
A corner of a dining room with wooden tables and chairs beside a large window. A decorative sculpture of a smiling sun hangs on one wall.
Large windows fill the space with natural light.
A red plate of enchiladas covered in a rich brown sauce with crema and cotija cheese. Slices of avocado and radish sit on top.
Enchiladas come with a choice of salsas, including tomatillo verde, adobo rojo, and mole poblano.
A fried, stuffed poblano pepper in a red sauce with crema and cheese on top.
“Sylvia’s Chile Relleno” (Mexican rice, cheese, salsa veracruz, avocado, crema)
A cocktail in a rocks glass filled with a yellow drink. Chunks of roasted pineapple and cilantro leaves sit on top.
“Pancho’s Piña” (charred pineapple, cilantro)
A cocktail in a rocks glass contains a cocktail with slices of jalapeño and ice. Orange chili salt rims half the top of the glass.
“Lobo Loco” (cucumber, jalapeño, chili salt)

White Oak Tavern & Inn

1200 West Webster Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 248-0200 Visit Website

Old Pueblo Cantina

1200 West Webster Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 697-3727 Visit Website

Gemini

2075 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 525-2522 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Chicago newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world