Lured by Dicksond’s posts, Ken and I recently took two of my teenagers to Amanecer Tapatio in Joliet. We had a great time sampling much of the menu. We all ordered things we wanted to try and we couldn’t believe how much delicious food we were served for a total of $24. By meal’s end we energized at the fun of trying a new place together. (Nightly family dinners have become a rare commodity as my kids get older). My son, Michael, suggested that our family start our own group which he named PICO (pursuing interesting culinary opportunities).
We had our first official PICO meal Sunday, again inspired by Dicksond. Cebu was our destination. When we walked in, we were the only guests in the pretty dining room. The chef was enjoying a glass of red wine and playing along to the Spanish guitar music coming over the speakers. We were greeted by Vince (nephew to owners Rudy and Cindy Rivera). I lived in Spain for a while and was curious as to why this restaurant was playing Spanish music. Even after reading Foodie1’s post about the Filipino food, I had expected more of an Asian restaurant. Vince gave us a little history lesson about the Spaniards heavy influence on the Philippines. Even before the food arrived, I loved this place.
Following are the items we tried:
1.Eggplant tomato tower (grilled eggplant, sweet peppers and tomatoes with boursin cheese and garlic vinaigrette)
2.Lumpia shanghai (eggrolls/minced pork, scallions, jicama served with sweet/sour sauce) our favorite of the appetizers. Both dishes were nicely presented with attention to detail. We loved the flavor of these cigar-shaped egg rolls.
3.Next came spicy caldereta (beef stewed in tomato sauce with green olives, potatoes and sweet peppers), pork skewers (thin slices of pork marinated in wine, soy and tomato sauce then grilled and basted with another tangy sauce).
4.Sotanghon (cellophane noodles sautéed with chicken, carrots, napa and shitake mushrooms) (though we all enjoyed, it was my least favorite dish
5.Adobo garlic rice (rice with toasted garlic and shredded adobo chicken) (kids’ favorite)
6.Cebu rice a la cubana (rice with minced beef, diced potatoes, sweet peppers and raisins.) I love raisins in a savory dish, and though this was my favorite, I think it could be a bit less oily. I wanted to try the Laing (sautéed taro leaves in coconut milk with shrimp), but Vince said the menu is being revised that dish was not available.
7.Coconut rice pudding sampler (our favorite was the one in the middlemade with purple yam)
With four of us, we still had plenty left over. To drink, I tried a San Miguel beer. I wanted to try a native drink but Vince explained that the beer and liquor served in the Philippines can’t be served in the restaurant because it is too high in alcohol. I prefer wine to beer, but I enjoyed this beer with the food we ordered. I appreciated the chilled San Miguel glass served along with the bottle, another nice attention to detail.
Midway through our meal, another family was seated. I was glad to see more diners because this place deserves more customers.
My daughter Megan, 14, has requested that our next adventure be to an authentic Polish restaurant. I will search our site, but I welcome your suggestion.
I announced on the way home that I would be writing up our experience for LTH. I agree with my 14-year-old daughter Megan’s succinct description of her experience: “My heart was fed.”
7329 Lemont Road
700 Ruby Street