I am a Mexican food junkie. I really think I could eat it every day and not tire of it. I love so many local joints, and write about them often, from Botanas to El Senorial to the brand new Mr. Webo's. (Conejito's and La Perla and Terra and El Rey and Guanajuato and Guadalajara – I'm loco for your food, too.)
Tonight, however, I was reminded how much I like Cielito Lindo, 733 S. 2nd St. (There is another location at 1300 W. Burnham Ave. and numerous taco trucks.) I live only a few blocks from this place, and yet I rarely remember to eat here, but I think it's on my radar for good after tonight's meal and remembering dishes from meals in the past.
If you go, try one of these specialties:
Molcajete – this entree comes in a cauldron-like pot and is available in a one-person portion for $14.99 or a two-person portion for $24.99. Basically, it's a stew of shrimp, steak, chicken, tomatoes, onions, peppers and cheese that's eaten alone or with tortillas. This dish is popular in Jalisco, Mexico, but not as widely ordered or available here. It's something different from the usual enchiladas or taco plate.
Camaron a la diabla – I've tried a few of Cielito's shrimp dishes and always found the seafood to be perfectly grilled. Tonight's camaron a la diabla ($10.49) was super tangy as well as incredibly spicy – just the way I like it. I particularly appreciated how the server didn't warn me about the dish's heat or ask me how hot I wanted it on a number scale. He just brought it to me in all of its fiery glory – with a side of ice water.
Chiles rellenos – This dish is good, too, and affordable at $9.99. Cielito's version is the usual cheese-stuffed peppers, but the flavorful red sauce really makes the dish roar.
The margaritas are OK. They come from a mix and are nothing to rave about. I suggest a cold Mexican beer instead.
I gotta agree with my friend who said she preferred the simple diner feel of the place prior to the renovations, but it's impossible not to gaze at the detailed murals covering the walls and the cabana-esque bar has a beach-resort feel to it which was particularly appreciated on this snowy, snowy evening.
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