Saturday was our appointment with the accountant. I was eager to get my income taxes done, anxious too how much damage it will do to my pocket. So I wanted to have a good fortifying dinner before I meet him. Sort of a last dinner before judgment day.
For years I’ve regaled Viv about my favorite Mexican neighborhood restaurant in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Nuevo Leon. My Mexican friends have brought me there and from the first visit, I had to agree that it is the best Mexican restaurant in the whole city. I have brought my out of town friends there when they ask for authentic Mexican food.
Fortunately, Pilsen is so close to the accountant’s office. I’ve always gone there after work on a weekday, or I take it back, I’ve been there one Saturday for dinner but I was surprised how long the line was this time. People waiting to be seated overflowed to the outside and more inside. For me it says a lot if an ethnic restaurant is patronized by compatriots and Nuevo Leon is just like that with a good mix of customers of other nationalities.
Good thing Viv asked if we could be seated when an empty table became available or we would have waited for a long time. But despite the long line, service was reasonably fast. Viv asked for a pitcher of lemon water and it came in a jiffy.
This is not some fancy restaurant so there’s no regard on aesthetics on plating but it works in the customer’s favor because they pile up the food. Portions are generous. I ordered shrimp fajitas and they were good sized, plentiful and succulent. The vegetables were sweet and well-caramelized. There is no way I could replicate it at home.
Viv ordered thin slices of lean rib eye with tomato sauce and fresh cheese. While the dish was very tasty, the sauce was a bit salty but the sides that came with it – beans and rice were good accompaniment. I love their beans that I ordered some to take home.
Fresh chips, pico de gallo and green salsa comes right after you are seated. They also give you a cup of carrot and jalapeno pickles and a saucer of a special for the day. Yesterday we enjoyed a pork soup with pinto beans. It was excellent. And the tortillas are so fresh, I forgot to order extra. Warm them up, spread some better, sprinkle some sugar and with a some cinnamon, yummy!
Food prices are reasonable from $6 tacos to $14 for skirt steaks. Cash basis only and they don’t accept reservations. It is a veritable cash cow. Really there is no substitute to honest great home cooking to sell a restaurant.
Nuevo Leon is proof of that.
Pilsen is a coming up neighborhood and slowly being gentrified because of its proximity to University of Illinois campus and hospital, Cook County Hospital, Rush Presbyterian Hospital. Around the area is also what we call the Little Italy neighborhood where some of the best Italian restaurants are.
365 Project: Day 88
Nuevo Leon Restaurant
1515 W. 18th St.