CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has dozens of high-quality Mexican restaurants. Part of that is due to the city's talent pool, and part of it is a result of the "Rick Bayless" effect.
ABC 7's Hungry Hound said one of his favorite new restaurants is the result of a former Mexican food truck, turned into a brick and mortar, with a dynamic, Mexican-inspired menu.
There are probably more Mexican restaurants in Chicago than potholes, but most of them are taquerias. On the other hand, there are the more upscale places like Frontera or its offspring focusing on a specific region of Mexico.
Quiote is a little bit of both. It's casual, but the food is much more thoughtful, and more farmer's market-driven than the average taqueria.
When you see crab meat, seasoned with agave chile lime and lemon vinaigrette, plated with mustard seeds, black lime powder and maybe some watermelon radish from the farmer's market, you probably don't immediately think of Mexico. But add radishes, cilantro and place it all on a crispy tostada and it comes into focus. That's the theme at Quiote in Logan Square: a hint of Mexico, but with a few twists.
"I didn't grow up in Mexico I don't cook from Veracruz, or I don't cook from Oaxaca specifically but I've travelled around a lot," Dan Salls, the owner, said.
Those travels led to dishes like grilled pork collar, sauced with ancho and morita chiles, plus piloncillo - a raw, unrefined sugar - a hit of sherry and some fish sauce. Served with grilled gem lettuce and pinto beans, it's a fairly hearty entree. Chicken is roasted in the wood-fired oven until crisp, then sauced with homemade mole, that multi-dimensional sauce of some two dozen ingredients at the heart of Mexican cuisine.
"Our mole is 100 percent done in the traditional methods we're using hand grinding, we're using five different chiles and over 30 different ingredients in the mole. That's one of our more traditional dishes," Salls said.
Even fish tacos get a riff here, not exactly like Baja Mexico, but rather, nodding to the immigrant population there.
"There is a very large Chinese population in Mexicali is right over the border so it's Baja very seafood focused we have these great shrimp but it's done in the style of salt and pepper which is a traditional Chinese method," he said.
No one goes thirsty here either; a deep bench of agave-based mezcals and tequilas make for some unique cocktails.
"Agave is definitely a theme throughout all of Quiote it's certainly a reference to our name. Quiote is the stalk that grows from the plant itself," Salls said.
In this week's Extra, Steve Dolinsky gives you a look at their subterranean mezcal bar, where you can pop in for a drink before or after dinner.
2456 N California Ave
Logan Square's Quiote offers Mexican food with a twist