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Caoba Mexican Restaurant

Caoba Mexican Restaurant
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  • Caoba Mexican Restaurant

    Post #1 - June 21st, 2007, 5:39 pm
    Post #1 - June 21st, 2007, 5:39 pm Post #1 - June 21st, 2007, 5:39 pm
    I've had a few bites from the newly opened Caoba this week:

    1. Enchiladas potosinas. The owners, I think, are from San Luis Potosi (they have SLP-embroidered sombreros for the tortilla baskets). They're really very good, and at $6 for lunch, a great value for the location.

    2. Queso fundido con chorizo. A fairly generous serving, but the cheese wasn't completely melted and it was served with chips instead of tortillas. I asked for tortillas and got them. So know this going in, if you, like me, prefer tortillas.. The chorizo was fairly good.

    3. Carne asada and chicken tacos. Not bad, but nothing great, either. Served with cilantro, onions, and pre-topped with the good salsa verde that's also served with the house-fried tortilla chips. But at $3 for the carne asada tacos, not good enough.

    4. The tortillas aren't hand made, sadly. This seems odd to me since they've got masa and a tortilla press in the kitchen (or the potosinas are pre-made), but maybe it's a time thing.

    Service was great. Friendly, efficient, attentive but not overbearing. They seem to still be working out some kinks at the place, but they're new, it's to be expected. They've done a great job remodeling it, but have added 4+ large flat screen TVs. I'm not sure what mood they're going for -- trendy restaurant, trendy bar, or something else.

    It's really not a bad place. Much better than I'd expected. At the very least, I'll probably get the enchiladas potosinas once or twice a month. Destination dining? No. But it's one of the better "nice lunch" options in the neighborhood.

    1619 N. Damen Avenue
    Chicago, IL
    Tel: (773) 342-2622
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #2 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:02 pm
    Post #2 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:02 pm Post #2 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:02 pm
    gleam wrote:Destination dining? No. But it's one of the better "nice lunch" options in the neighborhood.

    Ed,

    Had dinner at Caoba last evening and, while there's much to like about the place, breeze coming in from the open front, efficient friendly service, house made chips, large sturdy glasses of water, which were refilled often, youthful nice looking and very social crowd, the food itself left me somewhat nonplussed.

    Before commenting on the food I should point out Caoba has only been open two weeks and, as of today (Friday), are featuring a new and expanded menu, both lunch and dinner.

    Caoba
    Image

    We started with Ceviche, scallops, shrimp and tilapia in an orangy citrus. The tilapia immediately broke down into flakes making it quite difficult to eat. Flavor was very mild, just the slightest hint of citrus, my next day impression is one of diffused watery liquid coupled with nondescript fish.

    Ceviche
    Image

    Featured on the opening menu, and still on the newly expanded menu, are two Parilladas, mixed grills of seafood or meat. Aggressively spiced caseless Chorizo on the meat mixed grill was tasty, grilled pork ribs benefited from a slightly sweet citrusy chipotle sauce, grilled marinated flank ranged from chewy tough blandness to tender with good flavor, depending on piece.

    Mixed Seafood grill, while attractively presented, did not fare as well as meat, exceptionally chewy squid, scallops that had an odd marshmallow soft interior, langostinos that...........well, you get the picture. The one tasty consistent on both platters were grilled veggies, bell peppers, jalapeno, tomatoes, knob onions were quite good, in particular when wrapped in a tortilla.

    Mixed Grill
    Image

    I'd venture to say our table was the only one with a sharp eye toward the food, there were two birthday parties of attractive young ladies, a pride of Chads at the small bar and scattered date night couples holding hands and wondering if this is the one, or at least if they were going to get lucky. :)

    Image

    As Ed said, not destination dining, but for a youthful neighborhood place it fits the bill.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Caoba
    1619 N Damen Ave
    Chicago, IL
    773-342-2622
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:44 pm
    Post #3 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:44 pm Post #3 - June 22nd, 2007, 7:44 pm
    Where should I mail the $3.95 check? ;)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #4 - June 22nd, 2007, 9:40 pm
    Post #4 - June 22nd, 2007, 9:40 pm Post #4 - June 22nd, 2007, 9:40 pm
    hmm. I'm looking foward to this place. Especially for the potosinas.
    Good input gleam and G Wiv

    -Carlos
  • Post #5 - June 22nd, 2007, 11:01 pm
    Post #5 - June 22nd, 2007, 11:01 pm Post #5 - June 22nd, 2007, 11:01 pm
    I'm not sure I'd look forward to it for much except the potosinas based on Gary's experience ;)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #6 - June 23rd, 2007, 6:18 am
    Post #6 - June 23rd, 2007, 6:18 am Post #6 - June 23rd, 2007, 6:18 am
    gleam wrote:Where should I mail the $3.95 check? ;)

    Ed,

    No $3.95 necessary. :)

    I liked the overall atmosphere and, I'm guessing Caoba will be popular addition to the late night bar stroll on Damen/North especially in summer when the front is open to Damen Ave street scene.

    Given your description of the potosinas for a $6 lunch at North and Damen, I'd go once in a while if I worked in the neighborhood.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - June 25th, 2007, 8:54 am
    Post #7 - June 25th, 2007, 8:54 am Post #7 - June 25th, 2007, 8:54 am
    Can we all agree not to eat tilapia anymore?

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