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#1
Posted January 2nd 2007, 2:28pm
Anyone interested in another regional Mexican restaurant should gear up to get over to Halsted and Wrightwood. (The old Las Fuentes space)
Geno Bahena will be leading the kitchen with a brand new menu. Possibly open in the next week or so.
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#2
Posted January 3rd 2007, 1:23pm
A new chef is long overdue. I always found the food at Las Fuentes to be bland and common. Better food could probably have been found across the street at La Bamba!
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Butter
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#3
Posted January 3rd 2007, 1:39pm
Geno Bahena is back in town for good? Interesting.

Is he just the chef or the owner as well? I kind of hope just the chef. I love the man's food, but he just can't seem to make his restaurants stay around very long.
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Ed Fisher
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#4
Posted January 3rd 2007, 1:40pm
Coot,

Did you notice any signage up indicating the new name of the place?

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#5
Posted January 3rd 2007, 2:05pm
The new name will be Tepatulco-another hard to remember moniker.
Geno is not the owner-menu is interesting and prices are below reasonable-(I would guess these are opening prices)

He wasn't really gone for any length of time-and I don't know if anyone(including Geno) could say he'll be staying in Chicago for good.
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#6
Posted January 3rd 2007, 2:13pm
stewed coot wrote:The new name will be Tepatulco-another hard to remember moniker.
Geno is not the owner-menu is interesting and prices are below reasonable-(I would guess these are opening prices)

He wasn't really gone for any length of time-and I don't know if anyone(including Geno) could say he'll be staying in Chicago for good.


Thanks, Coot.

Tepatulco. Geno Bahena's hometown.

I wonder if this is a fairly recent development. Senor Bahena actually showed up at Sol de Mexico some weeks ago, and he mentioned that he was looking to start a new restaurant, though seemed very vague (perhaps cagey).

Appreciate the intelligence.

Hammond
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#7
Posted January 3rd 2007, 8:23pm
From tonight's issue of Dish:

Tepatulco (2558 N. Halsted St.; 773-472-7419), a regional Mexican restaurant with a menu by executive chef Geno Bahena, opens on January 5th in Lincoln Park. Anything that Bahena (Ixcapuzalco, Chilpancingo) does automatically goes on a lot of radars, and Tepatulco—named for his hometown in Guerrero—should be no exception. The entire space (which also still houses Las Fuentes) has been revamped, and the menu is full of sustainably raised ingredients, such as mixote de borrego, a parchment package of leg of lamb stew with spicy pasilla sauce, avocado leaves, and frijoles mancados ($16.50). “It’s going to be good,” says Bahena, who has always let his food do the talking.


Incidentally, Dish is a worthwhile email newsletter, it's free, and you can get it by filling out the form at http://www.chicagomag.com/dish_subscribe
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#8
Posted January 6th 2007, 5:00pm
For those who crave new reg. mex.-the place that Geno B. is cooking at opened last night-wrightwood & halsted-Have fun...
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#9
Posted January 6th 2007, 6:06pm
Thanks for posting this.

Just made reservations for tomorrow night. I absolutely loved Chilpancingo so I've got some pretty high hopes for this place. Plus, that's like two blocks away from me!
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#10
Posted January 6th 2007, 7:35pm
Ralph Wiggum wrote:Thanks for posting this.

Just made reservations for tomorrow night. I absolutely loved Chilpancingo so I've got some pretty high hopes for this place. Plus, that's like two blocks away from me!


I'm headed there next week. Let's compare notes.

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#11
Posted January 7th 2007, 11:04pm
More info and menu.

http://www.tepatulco.com/
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#12
Posted January 7th 2007, 11:11pm
Heh.

From the menu:

Tepatulco’s goal is to serve you seasonal sustainably raised vegetables, meat and poultry;
fish from sustainable fisheries and to ensure top quality and authenticity in our specialty dishes.
We proudly use only the freshest local organic harvested Ingredients from Family Tree
Produce.


also from the menu:

Crisp little tortillas piled with lime-marinated marlin, manzanillo olives, tomato,
chile serrano, tomatillo salsa, avocado and cilantro. 7.50


How many of those ingredients are local and in season right now?
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#13
Posted January 7th 2007, 11:22pm
kithat wrote:More info and menu.

http://www.tepatulco.com/


Thanks for posting the menu, Kithat.

I can't say the line-up is terribly inspired, many familiar items here, though it's interesting to see chapulines on the menu, and it's always good to see house-made tortillas. I think I'll probably go with the tasting dinner...

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#14
Posted January 8th 2007, 1:41am
I don't get ga ga over Geno Bahena and his restaurants, because I think he's been as much a disappointment as a success - he just doesn't seem to commit himself strongly enough to quality and/or consistency in his businesses. I know others will disagree with that assessment. I wish the restaurant every success, but the menu seems uninspired - run of the mill Mexican, for the most part - and he'll have to excel to new levels with the quality/presentation in order to be successful in that location (or anywhere else in Chicago).
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#15
Posted January 8th 2007, 10:08am
My dining companions and I thought Tepatulco was a big hit on Saturday night.

To start, we shared perfectly-prepared ceviche, bursting with freshness from the pungent lime, balanced well by the smoothness of the just-ripe avocado and the mild sweetness of the olives. Some ceviche's suffer from over-marinating the vegetables, causing them to lose their natural flavors. Not this one, where the vegetables seemed to have been added fresh, after the fish had been removed from the marinade.

We also tried the camarones en aguachile, which our server described as "great if you like very spicy". We do, and this certainly was. Certainly not for the faint-of-palette.

I got to sample two of the four entrees our table ordered - the mixiote de borrega and the salmon en mole verde. Both were excellent. The sauce for the mixiote - described on the menu as a "spicy pasilla sauce" - tasted like the rich, complex dark moles for which Bahena is known. Nutty, chocolaty, not-over-the-top spiciness cooked in parchment with boneless lamb shoulder meat that ended up extremely tender and rich. This was absolutely delicious. The salmon was prepared perfectly medium-rare, as requested, and tasted very fresh. The green mole was a complex and delicious complement.

Margaritas were simple and fresh: lime juice, grand marnier, tequila, and a touch of sugar. The Mexican beer list is extensive, and there is a quite-decent wine list that includes a tasty, somewhat rare-to-find Mexican Syrah along with a number of Chilean whites and reds.

For dessert we shared the flan de queso and were quite pleased with the light, Italian-style cheesecake texture and lime/brandy flavor combination.

This definitely does not appear to be a side job for Bahena. He was working his butt off in the kitchen all night; then, as the restaurant emptied out, he sat at a table near the front with some servers, the hostess, and what appeared to be the owner saying goodbye, thanking people for coming, and asking for feedback on the meal. The owner and staff were a dedicated bunch the whole evening, demonstrating passion for both food and service.
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#16
Posted January 8th 2007, 11:18am
David Hammond wrote:
Ralph Wiggum wrote:Thanks for posting this.

Just made reservations for tomorrow night. I absolutely loved Chilpancingo so I've got some pretty high hopes for this place. Plus, that's like two blocks away from me!


I'm headed there next week. Let's compare notes.

Hammond



We had a change of plans last night and were unable to make it. I'll likely check it out some other time over the next few weeks. I'll be curious to hear your review.
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#17
Posted January 11th 2007, 10:03pm
I stopped by night before last, and this place is definitely a work in progress. I had kind of figured that Bahena, having been around the block a few times, would know how to manage a kitchen from Day One. Ain't necessarily so. I'm going back in a month, but I will say this: the salmon (not a very Mexican-type fish, I agree) in mole verde was excellent.
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#18
Posted January 28th 2007, 11:56am
We went to Tepatulco last night and were disappointed.

First off, we left a voicemail request and an internet reservation request earlier in the week, neither of which were returned/confirmed. We called on Thursday and they had no record of either reservation but were able to get a table for last night. Upon our timely arrival, we told the hostess we had a reservation. She looked a bit confused, checked the book, confirmed our name, found the reservation and then approached us with a coy guilty look and said "we're full". Looking around I could see that was correct except for a 6 top table open in the corner (we were a party of 4). I asked if she had a record of our reservation and she said she absolutely did but "we're full." Not a 'please wait 5 minutes while I try to find a table,' just a "we're full". After 10 minutes and multiple attempts I convinced her and the manager that since the party of 6 they were holding the table for was obviously 10 minutes late and we were on time with a reservation, they should give us that table. Pretty poor service to start the night (the party of 6 never showed up by the way).

We were seated and ordered their recommended margaritas. It was one of the best I've had and was served in a shaken, no rocks, martini style. Really well done and just about the perfect rendition. Unfortunately, it was the highlight of the night.

The food was terribly average. The ceviche which I was excited to try was probably one third fish and two thirds olives, tomatoes and avocado. It should have been the other way around and while somewhat tasty, the fish was barely discernible. The queso fundido was boring and the equivalent of just about every average corner Mexican restaurant's iteration.

For entrees, my wife's carne asada was lacking any interesting taste and was a poor cut of meat with lots of fat to it. Given that it was fairly small, this is a problem. My salmon in green mole was even worse. A small piece of salmon with terribly mediocre mole tasting slightly of nuts but not much else. I wish I had a camera because it looked as garden-variety as it tasted, with little attention paid to the presentation.

Finally, the place's interior just doesn't look that good. It still has the cheap feel and design of it's earlier occupant which had a much lower price point and target audience. Aside from a few nice paintings, the place just doesn't look good. The ceiling is composed of those cheap white tiles and it looks like they put about 24 hours into remodeling it before opening. From the dime a dozen plates to the poorly cut paper tableclothes, the place bares no resemblance to a place striving for an upscale feel.


I'd had high hopes since it's right around the corner from me, and I ended up really disappointed. I was hoping for a Chilpancingo and I got a Chichis.
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#19
Posted January 28th 2007, 12:19pm
Ralph,

Feeling I may have judged Tepatulco too harshly on my first visit a few weeks ago, I went again last Friday. It was...not bad. I didn't have the carne asada this time, but I had it before and it was...okay. As mentioned above, on my first trip I had the green mole and thought it was very good, but maybe I got it on a good night (it was, however, very consistent with the same sauce at Sol de Mexico).

My favorite dish was a pollo Milanesa, an extremely simple dish, just fried chicken breast, but the bird was the highly flavorful and dense Gunthrop variety, and it went extraordinarily well with a Mexican red wine we ordered (I believe the label was Calterra).

Clearly, this place has some service issues...stemming from the fact that it seems really frickin' crowded most of the time.

Hammond
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