if you're paying your taxes Friday, you're probably looking for something affordable this weekend. One suggestion in Pilsen: a new Mexican restaurant from a pair of men who used to work at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
Another way to save some money is to bring your own bottle, and Five Rabanitos is also proudly BYOB. It's tucked away, among the taquerias and bakeries on busy 18th street, but inside, you quickly see that the chefs have a pedigree that comes from working in river north for many years.
Giant tamals, steamed in banana leaves, and chunky guac, made-to-order; just a few of the lessons Alfonso Sotelo and his partners learned while working for Rick Bayless, and now, they're taking that know-how and applying to the menu at 5 Rabanitos in Pilsen. One of their signature starters are tiny masa, or corn dough sopes, filled with an assortment of flavors, like homemade chorizo, al pastor pork with griddled pineapple or chicken tinga.
"A tinga is a shredded chicken with a roasted chipotle tomato sauce and really sprinkle on top queso fresco we make in house," said Sotelo.
Ceviches are bright with acidity and fresh avocado.
"This has tomatillo, cilantro and serrano. It's very light, very refreshing flavors; we add a little bit of avocado too," he said.
Tacos are made-to-order and topped with the usual fresh onion and cilantro, but larger entrees get special attention. A whole roasted pork tenderloin is first marinated overnight and then slow-roasted.
"It's marinated with three chiles, chile de arbol and guajillo. Very rich flavor," said Sotelo.
After it's roasted, it's sliced thick, then finished on the grill, served with potatoes and a deeply-intense, homemade mole.
"We serve with puree de papa, garlic red papa, and mole estillo guerrrero my grandmother's recipe. We make all of it on the house," he said.
1758 W 18th St.
EXTRA COURSE: Dessert at Five Rabanitos
Affordable Mexican from former Bayless chefs in Pilsen
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