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IXCAPUZALCO

IXCAPUZALCO
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  • Post #31 - December 12th, 2004, 11:18 pm
    Post #31 - December 12th, 2004, 11:18 pm Post #31 - December 12th, 2004, 11:18 pm
    Vital Information wrote:I have not had a chance to comment much of late, and I want to say more in this thread (i.e., I am very happy with Ixcapulzalco and think it worth the $$). Also, I was just very much in the land of Tex-Mex, and while I do not agree necessarily with Dickson's points, I gotta say, Chuy's is not a very good place to eat.

    I almost mentioned Chuy's, but decided that since it's beeb a decade since I last spent the holidays in Austin, I shouldn't assume places are still around, let alone what they used to be. So I have mixed feelings to discover that Chuy's is indeed still around but not what it used to be. Sic transit gloria.
  • Post #32 - March 13th, 2005, 10:08 am
    Post #32 - March 13th, 2005, 10:08 am Post #32 - March 13th, 2005, 10:08 am
    I had a frightful experience at Ixtapuzalco (I'm typing it so I can remember how to spell it...). Between the vegetarian relleno that sounded so good but came not as it was described on the menu to the toilet that wouldn't flush in the bathroom that is in basically in the same shape as the Vic Theatre's but smaller...?! I was completely disappointed.

    After reading some of this thread in particular I was very interested in what Ixcapuzalco was all about. I was at La Oaxacana two weeks ago based on a recommendation and was blown away. (of course i do a search for La Oaxacana and nothing comes up). Late last night thinking "How could you guys have missed this" I then did a search for Oaxacan and found Mike G's thread. From the salsa to the rellenos with anchos instead of poblanos I was wowed. My wife and I consistently go to Jalisco more fish and fruit so we are more interested in the different Oaxacan food stateside... we will hit Oaxaca this or next year... if that makes sense. Her comment is that the black mole at La Oaxacana is as good if not better than Bayless' The black mole enchiladas we've both had at both spots and while she regularly gets the pork tacos at Frontera she never ordered the enchiladas mole there again. No real reason. The La Oaxacana enchiladas mole she and I both ate 10 minutes after leaving Ixcapuzalco. Just to make a point. $7.81 included the salsa combo.

    Winding my way around to the point that I think I agree with the orignal poster here... any restaurant French Fusion or Mexican needs to provide value - a perceived value. Food that's so good you NEED it. An atmosphere that's so unique or so comfortable or so convenient or so something that you FEEL it. A process so convoluted so original, or so complicated that you would never want to try it... I thought the Moles were good. Not the best. Ixcapuzalco kills me because I want to love it and I don't.
    "Yum"
    -- Everyone

    www.chicagofoodies.com
  • Post #33 - March 13th, 2005, 10:30 am
    Post #33 - March 13th, 2005, 10:30 am Post #33 - March 13th, 2005, 10:30 am
    chicagofoodies wrote: (of course i do a search for La Oaxacana and nothing comes up)


    For the sake of future searches, note that the name of the restaurant you enjoyed is:

    Taqueria La Oaxaquena
    3382 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
    (773) 545-8585
  • Post #34 - March 13th, 2005, 11:28 am
    Post #34 - March 13th, 2005, 11:28 am Post #34 - March 13th, 2005, 11:28 am
    ChicagoFoodies, I read your review of Ix on your blog and have a couple of comments.

    With regard to the chile relleno, you found one of ther problems that has plagued Ix from time to time: inconsistency in it's kitchen. There was a period of time, wehn I almost abandoned the place completely because it appeared that Bahena had lost control of the kitchen only to find the problem remedied in a short period of time.

    I'm not sure I understand your beef with the duck mole. It sounds like the presentation didn't meet your expectation because the duck wasn't actually cooked in the mole. I've had the duck with the manchamanteles a number of times (a wonderful combination) where the potatoes are served on the mole with the fanned duck breast on top. I prefer that presentation because it allows you to determine how much mole and potato you have with each bite of duck rather than smothering the whole dish in the mole. The presentation problem is easily enough cured at your table if you prefer the mole spooned over the duck and potato.

    As for the sopes being only as good as those at Frontera, not better, I think an awful lot of restauranteurs in this city would love to have that label places on their sopes.

    My feeling is that the Bahena restaurants offer the same quality food as Frontera without all of the hassle of getting a table at Frontera.
  • Post #35 - March 13th, 2005, 1:06 pm
    Post #35 - March 13th, 2005, 1:06 pm Post #35 - March 13th, 2005, 1:06 pm
    Taqueria La Oaxaquena. man, I even have a takeout menu from that place... sheesh. The fact that I continue to misspell it is even funnier!

    As far as my problem with the duck mole- it was not that it was bad but that the dish paid little attention to the duck. The presentation actually of both dishes was great. I just thought that the exposed duck was an opportunity to show something about the way it was prepared that was missed. As it was I saw it as a plate of mole that was pretty good. The duck was unfortunately and obviously not a major focal point of the dish. I wanted and expected both.

    Ix in my mind (based on one meal, I know) is definitely not as good as Frontera. It could be a fabulous place that I had the bad luck of failing to see.

    BUT I'd much rather wait for a table and get consistently superior food than risk a sub-par meal at a more relaxed place. And, bearing in mind that I, personally, try to avoid dining out at rush weekend hours, still did not find the experience worthwhile.

    A restaurant that wants to operate at that level should be able to compete with top restaurants. I didn't see it even in the bathroom. It bothers me primarilly because at that price I will not be able to rationalize a return.

    I'm sorry about that especially if it truly is a fantastic restaurant. But if it's just a Bayless-spot that's not downtown and not as crowded than give me Frontera every time. They do almost everything right and because of that the occasional snafus (like their horrible basement seating) is completely forgivable.

    "My feeling is that the Bahena restaurants offer the same quality food as Frontera without all of the hassle of getting a table at Frontera."

    The food may be there but the consistency isn't. If you're ignoring the rest of the dining experience you might as well go to (Watching my spelling now... [how embarassing] Taqueria La Oaxaquena. It's a restaurant thats much better food than its credit as a Cheap Eats place implies.

    It's good to note that the point of my site (btw) is for multiple writers and multiple opinions. If someone is compelled to counterpoint any review or point out a great restaurant, click on the contribute button and you'll get the same privillages to post. I'm shocked at the sheer volume of traffic I get and never expected it. I am just a guy who cooks and eats out often without fear. I'm really happy to see Mexican cooking at the focus of high-end restaurants.

    Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena Taqueria La Oaxaquena
    It's easier with the cut and paste.

    ...and you guys rock btw.
    "Yum"
    -- Everyone

    www.chicagofoodies.com
  • Post #36 - March 13th, 2005, 1:27 pm
    Post #36 - March 13th, 2005, 1:27 pm Post #36 - March 13th, 2005, 1:27 pm
    Thanks for the further explanation. Perhaps the issue of attention to detail is once again becoming an issue at Ix.
  • Post #37 - March 13th, 2005, 4:27 pm
    Post #37 - March 13th, 2005, 4:27 pm Post #37 - March 13th, 2005, 4:27 pm
    I have problems with Bahena's restaurants in my limited experience. But I have similar problems with Bayless's restaurants.

    That said, I question whether you're comparing apples to apples in your review of the moles. You mention at least three different moles in your post. It may just be that you like the version of mole that you had at Oaxaquena better than the version of mole you had at Ixc..., eg.

    (Just a rather unimportant aside: it seems a little odd to me to suggest that garlic doesn't go with mole considering that most recipes have garlic in them, often in large amounts.)

    From your complaints, it also might be worth trying Chilpancingo rather than Ixc. And if you haven't already, I'd highly recommend Taqueria Puebla.
  • Post #38 - March 13th, 2005, 5:00 pm
    Post #38 - March 13th, 2005, 5:00 pm Post #38 - March 13th, 2005, 5:00 pm
    I would highlight that the "how could they have missed Taq. Oaxaquena" comment reflects one of the very few problems with LTH: places such as Oaxaquena are part of the received wisdom here, institutional collective knowledge, as it were. Look on the other board, and you'll see that lots of familiar posters raved about it. This and many other places have since received more widely publicized praise in the general press, and deservedly so. But you don't always see much here about the "obvious" places (which, of course, are not always so obvious).

    I think the restaurants mentioned are doing much different things, representing rather different parts of Mexico even if they were trying to hit the same price points and levels of service, which they are not. This is one area where I admit I like em all.
  • Post #39 - March 15th, 2005, 12:49 pm
    Post #39 - March 15th, 2005, 12:49 pm Post #39 - March 15th, 2005, 12:49 pm
    Whatever it was that made me try Ixtapuzalco led me to expect something really whiz-bang spectacular. Instead what I experienced was a place that is better than average, a little more expensive than average, and definitely more original and adventurous than most. But not whiz-bang spectacular. Once I got over the overinflated expectations, I enjoyed it. I think it is a little overpriced, but not enough to keep me from going back. The whole "package," from the name to the menu to the decor to the prices to the location tells me this is a restaurant that doesn't want to be categorized and wants to be judged on its own terms. Good for them.
  • Post #40 - March 15th, 2005, 12:53 pm
    Post #40 - March 15th, 2005, 12:53 pm Post #40 - March 15th, 2005, 12:53 pm
    cowdery wrote: I think it is a little overpriced, but not enough to keep me from going back.


    It is made a better deal if you use one of restaurant.com's $25 gift certificates that they often sell for $5-10. One use per party per month.

    I don't get there as often as I'd like. Maybe I'll make up for it with a trip to chilpancingo in a few weeks.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #41 - March 15th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    Post #41 - March 15th, 2005, 12:55 pm Post #41 - March 15th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    cowdery, that's how I'd describe my experience, too. Though, I'd say the same about my experiences at Frontera and at Topolo, both of which had some pretty significant disappointments. I'd say the lows were lower and the highs higher at Bayless's versus Bahena's for me.
  • Post #42 - March 15th, 2005, 4:41 pm
    Post #42 - March 15th, 2005, 4:41 pm Post #42 - March 15th, 2005, 4:41 pm
    I like Taqueria La Oaxaquena, was one of its earliest advocates, and do think its mole has a soulfulness missing from say Frontera's, but I do not think it is a better restaurant on an objective or overall basis than Ix. Ix features home-made tortillas, more professional service, more varied menu, incredible mashed potatos. TLO is more about super tortas and great table salsas.

    I've written before on Frontera/Not Frontera here:
    http://vitalinformation.blogspot.com/20 ... chive.html

    Here a report on excellent meals at Ix:
    http://vitalinformation.blogspot.com/20 ... 7902897711

    I've eaten well there since too.
  • Post #43 - April 6th, 2005, 9:19 am
    Post #43 - April 6th, 2005, 9:19 am Post #43 - April 6th, 2005, 9:19 am
    I got curious about Ixcapuzalco

    From the Reader site:

    http://www1.chicagoreader.com/cgi-bin/r ... &numb=1548

    Closed. Will reopen in a new location in April.

    --Paul Schoenwetter, Rater
  • Post #44 - April 6th, 2005, 12:02 pm
    Post #44 - April 6th, 2005, 12:02 pm Post #44 - April 6th, 2005, 12:02 pm
    Hey, this is a bit off topic, but someone who recently visited Chicago and Frontera said that they heard that a Bayless alum is going to be opening a haute Mexican place here in Portland. They even said the street and district which makes it sound like it's true.
  • Post #45 - April 6th, 2005, 5:49 pm
    Post #45 - April 6th, 2005, 5:49 pm Post #45 - April 6th, 2005, 5:49 pm
    Dish, quoted above wrote:In semi-related news, Bahena’s brother, chef Geno Bahena (Chilpancingo), is looking to open a Mexican tapas restaurant this summer near the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Pilsen.



    Has anyone heard anything about this place? Did it fall through, as other potential Bahena ventures seem to have in the past?

    Note that this bump is partially me trying to trick dropkickjeffy into digging deeper and putting some details, if available, into the next issue of Dish. Never say the Internet Food Forums don't exploit the more traditional media.

    But if anyone else happens to know anything, I'd love to hear it.
    Last edited by gleam on October 12th, 2005, 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #46 - May 24th, 2005, 5:21 pm
    Post #46 - May 24th, 2005, 5:21 pm Post #46 - May 24th, 2005, 5:21 pm
    They're open, at 2165 N. Western, per GEP who's making me post even though she's a member. They ate there Saturday, were told it has been open about a week. Favorable report on the lamb and the tequila. Less enthusiasm for whatever mole one of them had. Conveniently near Margie's if you decide you need more food. Name on the door is La Bonita. Looking forward to reports.
    Last edited by Ann Fisher on May 24th, 2005, 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #47 - May 24th, 2005, 5:41 pm
    Post #47 - May 24th, 2005, 5:41 pm Post #47 - May 24th, 2005, 5:41 pm
    (no need to comment since Ann edited her post)
    Last edited by nr706 on May 24th, 2005, 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #48 - May 24th, 2005, 5:46 pm
    Post #48 - May 24th, 2005, 5:46 pm Post #48 - May 24th, 2005, 5:46 pm
    Western. Made the correction. Sorry.
  • Post #49 - May 26th, 2005, 8:17 am
    Post #49 - May 26th, 2005, 8:17 am Post #49 - May 26th, 2005, 8:17 am
    Antonius wrote:Speaking of Bahena, may I inquire if anyone knows the story of the apparently failed (or never opened, which seems also quite possible) Apaxtleco on Western just north of Polk on a bustling ( :roll: ) commercial stretch in the beautiful Tri-Taylor neighbourhood? The building bearing the Apaxtleco sign is a little, old, deconsecrated church, formerly housing an Italian restaurant.


    I just noticed this post now. I'm not sure what the story is with the Apaxtleco at Polk and Western -- it was scheduled to open in September of 2002 but, I think, never did.

    However, as noted above, Bahena does have a new restaurant opening up near the Mexican Fine Arts Museum in Pilsen. It's going to be "mexican-style tapas". No idea if he's going to recycle the Apaxtleco name for the new location.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #50 - June 26th, 2005, 7:30 am
    Post #50 - June 26th, 2005, 7:30 am Post #50 - June 26th, 2005, 7:30 am
    Went to La Bonita, fka Ixcapuzalco, last night. Hoped to finally redeem a certificate from Restaurant.com last night, which would've made dinner a bargain.

    I didn't read this post carefully before heading out to find out that they had changed names after relocating. I just had the new address on me, so when I arrived, I saw that the liquor license, the menu name (the menu items were the same) and the receipt all had 'Ixcapuzalco' on them. However, they refused to accept my certificate! :shock: I checked restaurant.com today, and gift certificates are still for sale! Just a warning, don't buy one in hopes of using one here.

    I could see if a restaurant had specific stipulations about days of the week and minimums for certificate redemptions, but this was not the case. I am contacting restaurant.com in hopes that they will investigate the situation to prevent further disappointment among consumers.
  • Post #51 - June 26th, 2005, 8:08 am
    Post #51 - June 26th, 2005, 8:08 am Post #51 - June 26th, 2005, 8:08 am
    Pucca wrote:Went to La Bonita, fka Ixcapuzalco, last night.


    How was the food?
  • Post #52 - June 26th, 2005, 10:59 am
    Post #52 - June 26th, 2005, 10:59 am Post #52 - June 26th, 2005, 10:59 am
    Unfortunately, I had never been prior to the move so I don't have much of a baseline for comparison. We weren't too hungry and on our way to a party, so we didn't have much time to order appetizers or dessert.

    I ordered the catch of the day, halibut, and my date had the carne asada. I couldn't catch all the toppings on my fish, but it was tasty and fresh nonetheless. BTW, is the rice supposed to have crunchy bits? It was crunchy like the "rice cake" that forms around the bottom of a pan when the rice sticks. Needless to say, I didn't touch much of it. My date enjoyed his entree. Other than my halibut, I didn't think it was a meal to write home about.
  • Post #53 - June 26th, 2005, 11:23 am
    Post #53 - June 26th, 2005, 11:23 am Post #53 - June 26th, 2005, 11:23 am
    Pucca wrote:. . . BTW, is the rice supposed to have crunchy bits? It was crunchy like the "rice cake" that forms around the bottom of a pan when the rice sticks. Needless to say, I didn't touch much of it . . .

    I'm pretty sure that the bottom-of-the-pan rice crust is known as the "tahdig" (aka tahdiq, tadig). It's a prized delicacy in Persian cuisine -- many recipes even give detailed instructions on how best to produce it.

    I've also seen some references to that crust it in Vietnamese cuisine (see Bourdain's A Cook's Tour), as well. Although, admittedly, I've never encountered it in Mexican cuisine. Perhaps someone here with more expertise can elaborate.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #54 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:55 pm
    Post #54 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:55 pm Post #54 - August 3rd, 2005, 8:55 pm
    Mrs. JiLS and I stopped in tonight for the first time since Ixcapuzalco (or "La Bonita Ixcapuzalco Recipes" or whatever) made the move to Western Avenue. We had a good, typical Ixcapuzalco experience, although the new setting lacks the charm of the old (I mean really, having a live tree in the dining room just MADE the old Ixc space). Sopes were just like always, enchiladas were just like always, and margaritas were ... just like always, i.e., very good to excellent. The highlight was my entree, quail in the daily mole (Wednesday = manchamantales, with which I did indeed stain the tablecloth, my shirt and probably the lining of my colon -- it's a very dark mole). Anyway, the two little quails were splayed out there in the mole, and were perfectly roasted and very salty -- on the verge of being too salty, skirting the salt danger zone but just pulling back at the edge. The quail were better than decent, too, with a higher meat:bone ratio than I'm used to seeing in game birds. Delightful service (and because only 7 diners, including ourselves, were there at the time, we didn't run into the usual Ixc slow service issues, either). With Think Cafe and Bolero up the block, and Honey 1 on its way, Western a block or two south of Fullerton is becoming a real food destination. I do hope Ixc plans to replace the sign and dress up the outside a bit; it would be easy to drive past this place and dismiss it, because currently it looks like a bit of a dump on the outside (not the case inside, even absent the old live tree).
  • Post #55 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:22 pm
    Post #55 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:22 pm Post #55 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:22 pm
    JimInLoganSquare wrote: I did indeed stain the tablecloth, my shirt and probably the lining of my colon -- it's a very dark mole


    I nominate this quote for permanent exclusion from the site tagline.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #56 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:35 pm
    Post #56 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:35 pm Post #56 - August 3rd, 2005, 9:35 pm
    Just caught this thread and had a question about whoever thought the duck on top of the mole just didn't meld enough. Lots of mole preparations are about a sauce prepared separately from the meat, then combined at the last minute, no?
  • Post #57 - August 4th, 2005, 9:59 am
    Post #57 - August 4th, 2005, 9:59 am Post #57 - August 4th, 2005, 9:59 am
    Don't know if the usual method is to add the meat to the mole just prior to serving, but that was certainly the case with the quail dish I ate last night. The birds were surrounded by, but not covered in, the mole sauce. This was a good idea at least for quail, which you have to pick up with your hands due to their delicate size, and in light of the indelible staining characteristics of the mole sauce.
  • Post #58 - October 24th, 2005, 9:25 am
    Post #58 - October 24th, 2005, 9:25 am Post #58 - October 24th, 2005, 9:25 am
    (This is a continuation of a serial post from here.)

    Ixcapuzalco was once about the most perfect "find" restaurant imaginable. On a nowhere strip in an unhip (but quite lively) ethnic neighborhood, a surprisingly sophisticated cook with a first-class pedigree working in an unusually charming space at dirt cheap prices. Well, the prices didn't stay dirt cheap for long, and I know some folks had service issues or the occasional off meal as the chef overextended himself a bit, but still, Ixcapuzalco and Chilpancingo have always had a warm place in my heart as being the kind of place you could recommend to someone knowing they'd have a good meal and never would have found the place without you. (Dorado is, I suppose, the new one of those.)

    Then it closed, and reopened some time later in a new location which, frankly, makes it look more like Dos Sombreros of Woodfield than Son of Frontera/Topolobampo. I took the kids there Thursday night to see how the new Ixcapuzalco compares to the old. The inside is nice but, like the outside, a bit generic with its Mexican tile and tequila barrel on the bar, not as distinctive as the old place with its arty colors and the tree in the middle of the room. The food looked and tasted very much like it used to, but there was a generic, institutional edge to it too, or maybe the lack of edge, a feeling that the people making it were skilled at following instructions, but little more. And there were some off notes-- the mashed potatoes, not that that was a particular focal point of the dish, with my duck mole were barely tepid; the masa boats seemed as sturdy and prefab as foodservice custard crusts; the service was sort of impersonally professional, attentively oblivious, doing absolutely nothing to help me figure out how to construct a meal for two young boys off their very grownup menu.

    (To that point, I doubt I would go back with the kids; they just don't seem very inclined to be family accommodating. Though it was amusing, I must say, when the kids immediately piped up asking for horchata, the waiter replied, with a touch of disdain, that they didn't have it, and Myles said as he walked away, "What kind of a Mexican restaurant is this if they don't have horchata?")

    Don't get me wrong; some things were interesting, brightly flavored, handsomely plated. The stuff in the industrial-strength masa boats was all tasty and interesting-- guacamole, a huitlacoche-bean goo, some pork like cochinita pibil. It's a good restaurant-- but it's clearly no longer one in the bloom of its first excitement about the food it's making and the chance to serve a neighborhood audience something more than burritos and enchiladas. You can't go to Geno Bahena's hometown again, I guess.

    More Mexican to come after this.
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  • Post #59 - October 24th, 2005, 9:50 am
    Post #59 - October 24th, 2005, 9:50 am Post #59 - October 24th, 2005, 9:50 am
    Remember that Geno Bahena sold the restaurant to, I think, his brother or cousin a year or two ago. As far as I know he has nothing to do with the restaurant these days. I'm not defending the restaurant or Bahena, just making sure people don't get ideas about Chilpancingo based on meals at Ixcapuzalco.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #60 - October 24th, 2005, 9:53 am
    Post #60 - October 24th, 2005, 9:53 am Post #60 - October 24th, 2005, 9:53 am
    Yes, although Geno's name appears on the menu and they do seem to be trading on his name still. But it gives the impression of food that is being executed according to the instructions of someone not present in person. Still, it's an impressive restaurant and I'm glad to have it in the area; the carping is merely in comparison to its own history.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.

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