Monday, August 30, 2010

Tony's Burrito Mex

I rarely eat out, which is probably why I have become such a cooking fanatic. I want to eat great meals, affordably. That means cooking at home.

And I usually don't consider buying lunch at a cheap Mexican restaurant eating out--it's more about getting yummy calories in my hungry stomach. Which is why I didn't give the food at Tony's Burrito Mex, on the corner of Belmont and Damen in (Roscoe Village) Chicago, much thought. When I think of eating out somewhere blog-worthy in Chicago, I think of Xoco, or La Frontera (which I have yet to visit) or some other famous (read: expensive)Chicago eating establishment.

But I forget that in big cities, the small, cheap eateries can serve up some great and notable meals.

My husband and I had just finished a morning of dancing and drumming at Le Bagatae's African drum and dance conference in Hamlin Park and were heading back home to Madison. We recalled that we had eaten at Tony's the previous year and it was memorable. This time, we ordered chicken burritos, slathered with green mole and avocados, and a chorizo burrito for our son. We made a "pit stop" before getting onto the car which took me past the kitchen--and gave me a clear view of one of the cooks straining freshly made enchilada sauce through a sieve.

Practicing my mediocre Spanish, I asked "Haces el mole aqui?" "Si," answered Adrian, "Hacemos todos los moles aqui...verde, rojo, enchilada, todos." After that I started saying something about how I thought most enchilada sauces in restaurants came out of a "lata." And then added a dose of French to show off (not really, I just speak whatever foreign language comes to mind when I can't think of the right word). "C'est bien que ustedes hacen las salsas frescas aqui." I don't know if Adrian, the cook, smiled because I complimented the sauce, or because my Spanish is so pitiful. Anyway, I was duly impressed, and he let me take a photo of him making mole.

I love stumbling upon great little eateries. It might be the norm to make homemade sauces at Mexican restaurants, but I wasn't aware. Tony's makes some great food, and I look forward to finding other great (read: cheap) eateries in Chicago next time we visit. And this was cheap (read: inexpensive); a "small" burrito set us back only $4. Wash it down with delicious horchata, and you have a great, fast meal. Gracias, Tony!


I.M. said...

I know what you mean about getting a good meal inexpensively thus having to cook at home. These little restaurants are like eating a home cooked meal, but better because your kitchen stays clean, you don't exert the energy in cooking and you don't have to clean up. It's so much more enjoyable ... it's great to find a place like this!

My Little Space said...

COOL... you also went inside to the kitchen! Are you teasing the guys too? haha.... Just kidding! The food looks scrumptious after all. Thanks & enjoy your day.
Cheers, kristy

Megan said...

love it! I have not been there, but I have visited lots of little yummy places in Chicago...and he smiled because you are super sweet and cute! (and complimented his sauces with your sassy language(s)! Too funny! Looks delicious Otelia! xoxo meg

Fresh Local and Best said...

I think that this is part of the great adventure of being a foodie is that you explore and find undiscovered places that have a lot of soul. Tony's looks and sounds terrific.

My Little Space said...

Hey Otehlia, I have a little something for you. Please feel free to hop over to collect it. Thanks & have a wonderful day.

Pam said...

I will have to check this out! It sounds great! Of all the restaurants in Chicago, sometimes its place like this that are the best!

Otehlia said...

I did scoot in the kitchen for the photo, and to practice my Spanglish. Thanks for stopping by my blog, everyone. And to hopefully glean a bit of sauce-making tips:)

Keri said...

Hi, I'm here from "My Little Space" the blog. She sent me. And I see why. Great blog here. Fabulous food and photos. I'll be back regular! Love it


A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Ha! I totally can relate. I got pretty good at Spanish awhile back but have fell out of practice with it and recently tried to pick up French. I tend to create A LOT of fun sentences that um ... combine the best of both languages? ;)