Arlington Heights adds downtown restaurants

February 8, 2012 10:04:28 AM PST
Two restaurants -- Grand Station and Mago Grill and Cantina -- inside the Metropolis Performing Arts Center are pumping new life into downtown Arlington Heights.

Within a block or two of the metropolis, you've got Thai, Irish and Italian options. But during the winter, when you want to stay indoors, there is now a pair of options inside the theater building. Both of them offer hearty dishes made from scratch.

The Metropolis Performing Arts Center anchors the downtown Arlington Heights cultural scene. Sure, there are restaurants nearby, but you don't even need to go outside, since there are two very different options within the complex. Grand Station takes a more general approach by offering a pretty basic lineup, and it comes from a team that's used to serving the local community.

"Grand Station is new for us. We take this place about a little over a month. We come out with a new menu, but what we really looking for is for the people. They are looking for a great wine and dine in the village," said Jose Luna, the Chef at Grand Station.

Nothing too exotic there-- pan roasted salmon filets set over a rocky bed of artichokes, potatoes and carrots; oven-roasted mussels with tomatoes and shallots in white wine, even a chicken pot pie that could easily feed two.

"When I came here, one group of ladies that I met asked for the request and I met the request. I said; I will have that on the menu as long as it's a little group that gets together once a month and they to stop by and play cards in this little room. I'll be happy to provide you chicken pot pie," Luna said.

Just a few doors down - under the same roof - Mago Grill and Cantina is offering up a menu that combines regional Mexican and Latin American flavors. You could start off with some homemade guacamole - made tableside - plus a margarita.. but you may want to upgrade it.

"We have a few margaritas on the menu, but we also have a section that's called mezcallinas. Which is margaritas made with mezcal. We have a good one that's called el maleficio; with cucumber, cilantro it's made with lime juice and mescal," said Juan Luis Gonzalez, the Chef at Mago Grill.

Earthy pozole contains boiled hominy.. as well as a generous lamb shank topped with radish, cabbage and white onions.

"The shrimp is with a mole ranchero; it's a mole from Tamaulipas Mexico. And we... shrimp with the mole. The mole is made with chile pasilla, chile guajillo, crackers and we also serve it with a pinto bean enchilada," Luis Gonzalez said.

There's also pork and of course, a tri-fecta of homemade salsas alongside. Gonzalez says he's trying to offer locals something as unique as they'd find in the city.

"I think if you open a restaurant and you show people what the real Mexican food is, they will appreciate they don't have to drive all the way to the city to have a nice Mexican meal," he said.

At Mago, we also discovered a rumchata, a combo of rum and horchata, the sweetened rice milk drink. It was pretty delicious.

Grand Station
101 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights
(847) 873-0978

Mago Grill and Cantina
115 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights
(847) 253-2222

also: 641 E. Boughton Rd, Bolingbrook
(630) 783-2222