Pre-Colombian Off the Pink Line

I’ve lived in my current neighborhood for five or six years now (yeah, I lost track). And, ever since the move, I’ve felt the need to defend my area of residence to… well, just about everyone. People I know who live on the North Side don’t understand why I would choose to live where I do. (The Pink Line? Who takes the Pink Line?) People who live on the South Side assume I live on the North Side (you just don’t seem like a South Sider… um, thanks?). I even had one person say that if I wanted to live on the South Side, I should live in Hyde Park because “well, you know… you don’t speak Spanish.”

Mundial LogoAnd, to all of you, I say, “Shut it. My neighborhood rocks.” I can easily give you a half a dozen reasons why I love living in Heart of Chicago (look it up, it’s a real neighborhood). But, one of the best is that I’m within walking distance of Mundial Cocina Mestiza.

It’s a small restaurant in Pilsen that is a bit Latin influenced and a bit pre-Colombian cuisine. The room is dark and definitely not a decor to rave about. But, the food is definitely worth a try, and the wine specials are pretty top notch. I recently went with my sister.

What We Ate

We shared the Ceviche Mundial. It is a huge portion of whitefish, shrimp, and octopus. The rest of the mix contains mango, red onions, pico de gallo, carrot, and citrus. It’s served in two large crispy shells so easy for splitting. I like it because the seafood is not drowning in sauce. It’s light and refreshing and definitely filling.

They also serve fresh, warm tortillas when you sit down. I could just chow on those all night.

For her entree, Emily went with the Caserola Azteca. The dish is huitlacoche (a type of maize), squash blossoms, wild mushrooms, baby spinach, black beans, corn, peppers, and Oaxaca cheese all layered with crispy tortillas. It’s served with artichoke molcajete sauce (think guacamole but made from artichokes). They make this dish to order, so if you want extra spice, they’ll throw on a few more nopales for you. Em went spicy and she was sweating bullets halfway through.

I had the Chamorro de Cerdo which is pork shank braised in red wine chipotle infusion. It comes stacked on top of a grilled poblano polenta cake sprinkled with fried okra and crispy malanga strings. Malanga is a type of tuber so fried strings are like super thin fries. The sauce was plate-lick worthy.

What We Drank

We ordered a pitcher of sangria because it’s made from white peaches and blood oranges. And, that sounded just about heavenly. Their wine list is not extensive, but Tuesdays are half off certain bottles from the list. They also have a number of tequilas to choose from, if that’s your thing.

My only wish is for a patio or outdoor seating–especially come summer.

Location: 1640 18th Street, close to the 18th Street Pink Line stop. Street parking is usually pretty easy to find.

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