Cantina 1910 offers a new take on Mexican food

Sunday, December 6, 2015
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A new Mexican restaurant in Andersonville is shaking things up, breaking from tradition on many levels.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new Mexican restaurant in Chicago isn't really big news, since there's a wealth of taquerias and other more casual spots all over the city. But a new Mexican restaurant in Andersonville is shaking things up, breaking from tradition on many levels.

Pretty much every night is a busy one at Cantina 1910. The Andersonville restaurant is housed in a stunning, two-story building which serves what it calls, "reinvented Mexican."

"When you think of Mexican food you often think of a lot of citrus, avocado, things like that. Being a farm-to-table restaurant we didn't want to rely exclusively on things that we can't get locally," said Mike Sullivan, the owner of Cantina 1910.

So this Midwestern-meets-Mexican menu includes ceviche, but it's thick cobia, sliced and meticulously plated among sweet potato puree, a salad of fennel, cippolini onions, pears and mushrooms, plus burnt corn brine, intense lime gel and some dehydrated sweet potato skin.

Spit-roasted pork and tomatillos star in the al pastor tacos, but strands of wheatgrass stand in for the usual cilantro. One of the most beguiling dishes I've had in some time begins with a base of garlicky, squid ink infused arborio rice, plus a bright picadito of chopped squid embedded with roasted tomatoes, onions and citrus zest.

Dessert's star is the horchata. But rather than the usual creamy-sweet drink, here, it's re-imagined as horchata ice, tucked into a pillow of rice pudding, that is itself embedded with tiny squares of flan, pecan crema and toasted pecans.

"It's not what you expect. It's still creamy, it's still rich, but it has that extra oomph, that extra flavor that you weren't expecting," Sullivan said.

The bar is ambitious, so don't necessarily go for a margarita out of the gate.

"We get our vodkas and our whiskies and our gins locally, and we've got some tremendous drinks that you would find in Mexico, it's not just margaritas in Mexico. But you can still get a margarita if you want one," he said.

So even though at its core, Cantina 1910 is a Mexican restaurant, you can't come in expecting the same old margaritas, guacamole and tacos; you've got to think outside the box just a little bit.

The restaurant is also open for breakfast, lunch and brunch.

Cantina 1910

5025 N Clark St.

(773) 506-1910