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April 1, 2007

Xel-Ha

by gastronomicbypass

Location – 710 N. Wells

In one word – Guacamole

Food – This new spot in River North is all about the cuisine of the Yucatan Peninsula (that’s in Mexico, idiot). I went as a party of 6 and no one was disappointed. I have an unhealthy love for huitlacoche (it’s a corn fungus that’s considered a delicacy), so I ordered the quesadillas filled with fungus. It was excellent, fresh ingredients, interesting salsas. I had a bite of a venison taco and realized I should have ordered that as well. The chopped venison is served cold with fresh tortillas. We also indulged in guacamole and I think it’s one of the better versions in Chicago.

Drinks – The variety of cocktails at Xel-Ha is vast. They specialize in wine and tequila. But, I decided to try the mojito de milagro since the bartender recommended it. It was great, not too sweet and went down easy (too easy, watch yourself). I also sampled the Xel -Ha margarita. It comes in one of those giant goblets, which immediately indicates that it ought to be a group effort. The rest of my party tried the mojito boz, which is a blackberry mojito. Not sure if it was the best pick, but they enjoyed it.

Service – So as a large party, I believe they stuck us in the ‘party room,’ i.e. a closet on the side of the restaurant away from the rest of the patrons. I was offended at first, but after a while, we grew into the space. Thankfully, despite being removed from the rest of the restaurant, they did not forget us. The service here was eager. They’re still in that period where they need to develop a customer base, so we got great recommendations and the food came in a timely fashion.

Occasion – It’s actually pretty nice here. You could come for work or with sophisticated friends and not be disappointed. I saw a couple date scenarios (albeit they were all very awkward dates). It’s another time where you might have to put away the fleece, but you can still wear your jeans.

Cost – It’s not cheap. For my meal and two drinks I spent $40. So it’ll be some modest meals for me till the next payday.

If you like…, try – Zocalo

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