What’s up, foodie adventures! Welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues! I know it has been too long between posts, and I really do apologize. However, summertime in Chicago can make a man very busy, busy but very hungry. Naturally, my stomach loves to roam from country to country, but somehow it always manages to roll south of the border to get that sweet sweet Mexican food. Luckily the Chicagoland area has plenty to offer in terms of Latino cuisine, and Casa Margarita in La Grange is a competent, but not extraordinary, representative of tex-mex cooking.
I’ve had my fair share of Mexican food whether that be in the form of enchiladas or tacos at better restaurants, but Casa Margarita is a middle of the road establishment overall when it comes to la comida mexicana. It has both indoor and outdoor seating which served us perfectly on the beautiful evening we visited Casa Margarita. While it allowed us to people watch and make friends with plenty of meandering poochies, that was also the downside since they crowded too many tables on the sidewalk. Plus, their round tables didn’t allow for my mom, dad, and I to sit comfortably. It would be a better experience if they utilized square tables. While sitting down at the table, we also noticed that it was taking quite awhile to bus off our table. My mom noted the “Help wanted” sign in the window, so that explained everything. Luckily our waitress was a superwoman who seemed to be doing ten different things at once while still being quite cheerful. Perhaps it was the delirium of running all over the place though. Either way, she made up for the shorthanded staff by hustling and starting us with the typical complimentary basket of tortilla chips. They thankfully weren’t super salty, and the salsa was more of a smoky, peppery salsa that was a welcome change from the typically bland, tomato salsas provided with the Latino version of the bread basket. They had a full drink menu including wines, beers, non-alcoholic beverages, and surprise surprise, margaritas! I started with a Pacifico beer ($5) since I was in the mood for a lighter beer. This Mazatalan brew was a clear but uninspired lager that was jazzed up with a spritz of lime juice. The Mexicans aren’t exactly known for their beer culture beyond the uber-popular (personally, I think gross) Coronas, and the Pacifico was a pedestrian compliment to my main platter. Their menu is extensive complete with appetizers, soups, seafood, chicken dishes, beef platters, fajitas, and tacos to name a few sections. I went with the fish tacos ($8.50). Why fish tacos? Well, I’ve heard many good things about them, and I’m all about trying new foods. I’m not the biggest seafood guy, but I decided to make the plunge. Before I began my deep-sea culinary adventure, our waitress came out with mini-bowls of chicken soup. Overall, I was more of a fan of the broth than the ingredients since the “chicken” seemed like an odd intermediary between tuna and chicken. I know the former is known as the latter of the sea, but I’d prefer my meat to taste like what its advertised as. When they came out, the tacos looked quite delicious, and this book’s cover adequately represented what was under the surface. While the tortillas weren’t as corn-laden as I expected, they were light and strong enough to keep in all of the delicious flavors. The plentiful pieces of grilled Tilapia were buried underneath a refreshing, tangy pico de gallo and a drizzling of a slightly spicy guacamole sauce. Taken all together, the fish gave the taco plenty of body with a clean flavor that was further embellished by the aforementioned latin elements. I requested some hot sauce to jazz up the tacos and satisfy my need to feel a kick in the old tastebuds. They indulged me with two of my favorite hot sauces. The red Tapatio (Spanish for someone from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco in Mexico) sauce is moderately spicy with a slightly more sour flavor compared to the fiery Yucateco sauce. This verdant sauce from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico ratchets up the Scoville units with that hellish heat synonymous with habanero peppers. While they’re not like the ulcer-inducing fritters I tried at Salvador Molly’s, it will drop a lighter on your tongue and walk away while putting on its sunglasses and listening to your tastebuds exploding in a ball of flame. These two condiments took this plate to another level. I also used them to enhance the dry Mexican rice on the side and the dreary refried beans. I also tried a bit of my mom’s shredded beef enchiladas. While I’m more of a fan of cheese enchiladas, these juicy beef strings were quite succulent. By the end, I was stuffed and satisfied with my mouth-watering tacos and topped off the night with a visit to my friend in the neighborhood, Truffles the bear at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
As I said at the beginning of the post, there are plenty of better Mexican restaurants in the Chicagoland area, but if you’re in the La Grange area, you might as well try Casa Margarita’s fish tacos.