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  • Wholly Frijoles

    Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 3:29 pm Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    I was at Wholly Frijoles several days ago for lunch and want to recommend it to those who want try a high quality mid-scale Mexican restaurant. It's in Lincolnwood on Touhy Ave. about one block from Renga-Tei which has received good reports. WF has traditional items and the chile rellenos at the table next to us looked very good, but what sets it apart are the better dishes. I had leg of lamb with a mole sauce and cilantro mashed potatoes. This includes salad or tortilla soup, which was excellant. The entree is served with either flour or corn tortillas. My wife had a crusted halibut with lime flavored rice and the cilantro potatoes. These items were $11.95 and $12.95. There was also a poblano stuffed chicken breast that sounded good,which I'll try next time.

    The restaurant is BYOB. In talking to the waiter he said they limit patrons to 2 bottles of beer per person and one bottle of wine per 4 persons. He said they mildly discourage people from lingering over drinks, since they have waits in the evening -- sometimes over an hour on the weekend.
    The place is owned by Carmen and Veronica Villegas. They started with 6 tables in a very small space and have expanded into the adjoining space with a total of about 16 tables. They don't take reservations, but Veronica said that if you call up to 45 minutes before arrival they will put you on the waiting list.

    Wholly Frijoles
    3908 W. Touhy Ave.
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712

    847-329-9810

    Jesper
  • Post #2 - May 16th, 2005, 12:05 pm
    Post #2 - May 16th, 2005, 12:05 pm Post #2 - May 16th, 2005, 12:05 pm
    the steak nachos were a revelation.

    plan ahead for WF. On a weekend night for larger tables (>4 is tough to accomodate), call before you leave the house and ask when you might be seated. We called for a 6-top at around 6:30 and were told we'd be seated around 9:15. We didn't actually sit until close to 10:00, but since we were the last seating of the evening, the waitstaff was very attentive (the crowd was thinning) and no one seemed to mind that we brought more than the recommended 2 drinks/person. In fact, I noticed coolers full of drinks at other late-seated tables.
  • Post #3 - March 22nd, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Post #3 - March 22nd, 2006, 4:25 pm Post #3 - March 22nd, 2006, 4:25 pm
    I've heard that this place went a bit downhill since they were on Check Please, overcrowded with rushed food preperation, which meant not as good of a dining experience. I was just wondering if that was only right after the show, or if it has continued to not be the great place it used to be. I have friends who now hate Check Please because of the effect it seemed to have on this once favourite of theirs.
  • Post #4 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:38 am
    Post #4 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:38 am Post #4 - March 23rd, 2006, 8:38 am
    I've tried to go back to WF several times since my first visit. On each occasion (admittedly, Fridays and Saturdays), the promised wait proved prohibitive. I called each time around 6pm and was told the earliest I could get in (for 2) was 9:30. To my knowledge, they take call-ahead seating, but still do not accept reservations.

    I will probably go back for the food, but I will never try it on a weekend again.
  • Post #5 - August 26th, 2006, 4:37 am
    Post #5 - August 26th, 2006, 4:37 am Post #5 - August 26th, 2006, 4:37 am
    I was full of hope about this place and felt let down in that many of the platters seemed dumbed-down (flat flavors, preparations without flair or, it seemed, much care). Despite a somewhat uninventive presentation, the red snapper was very fresh and well-fried. The tortilla soup was good enough, but the stuffed chicken breast had kind of a cheap cheese taste.

    I'm not by any means saying this is a bad place. It just didn't wow me as I had expected. That said, it apparently wows many; on a Friday night, this place was packed, and I understand that is the norm. Chef Villegas knows how to please a crowd -- the restaurant website explains that he helped open Maggiano's and Papagus.

    http://whollyfrijolesgrill.com/about.html
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #6 - August 26th, 2006, 7:03 am
    Post #6 - August 26th, 2006, 7:03 am Post #6 - August 26th, 2006, 7:03 am
    David Hammond wrote:I'm not by any means saying this is a bad place. It just didn't wow me as I had expected. That said, it apparently wows many; on a Friday night, this place was packed, and I understand that is the norm.

    David,

    Wholly Frijoles seems like the kind of place I'd enjoy, family owned, friendly and fresh made food, but I agree, the food is a bit dumbed-down. I'm not talking chain restaurant no flavor, but nothing really pops for me at Wholly F. It's not someplace I'll resist going, but not a place I'd pick on my own.

    The person who 'did' Wholly Frijoles on Check Please was none other than Double Yum herself. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - August 26th, 2006, 12:33 pm
    Post #7 - August 26th, 2006, 12:33 pm Post #7 - August 26th, 2006, 12:33 pm
    Does Double Yum participate in this forum?
  • Post #8 - August 26th, 2006, 2:25 pm
    Post #8 - August 26th, 2006, 2:25 pm Post #8 - August 26th, 2006, 2:25 pm
    trotsky wrote:Does Double Yum participate in this forum?


    If I had to guess, I'd say Double Yum would be scared by this forum.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - August 26th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    Post #9 - August 26th, 2006, 2:34 pm Post #9 - August 26th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    Double Yum, whom I'm sure is a very nice lady in person, is nevertheless the complete antithesis of everything LTHForum stands for.
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  • Post #10 - August 26th, 2006, 2:54 pm
    Post #10 - August 26th, 2006, 2:54 pm Post #10 - August 26th, 2006, 2:54 pm
    Becoming uncomfortable with Double Yum discussion, so...

    Anyway, I've been wrestling in my mind with what precisely I found objectionable about Wholly Frijoles. I guess it's because it didn't have exactly what I was looking for, exactly what I'm always looking for, which is "authentic" (or, more exactly, what I believe to be authentic) Mexican food. Their menu items such as coconut-crusted shrimp turn me off, and fajitas just don't thrill me, though there's nothing wrong with them per se. I'm trying very hard not to get in a reverse snobbery mind-set, where the only food that pleases me is hecho a mano by Mexican grannies in an uptown kitchen, but I got to say, the downscale, downhome stuff is much more interesting to me. It may not be "better" in any objective sense, but it is immeasurably more pleasing on a gut-level.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #11 - August 27th, 2006, 8:23 pm
    Post #11 - August 27th, 2006, 8:23 pm Post #11 - August 27th, 2006, 8:23 pm
    No, it's not the most authentic Mexican, but to be fair it's not trying to be. And no, not everything on the menu is mind-blowing, but there are some very fine dishes there. The spicy braised lamb I had about a year ago stands out in my memory, as does the cinnamon ice cream that shows up in a few of their desserts.

    -Chuck
  • Post #12 - August 27th, 2006, 8:31 pm
    Post #12 - August 27th, 2006, 8:31 pm Post #12 - August 27th, 2006, 8:31 pm
    Chuckles wrote:No, it's not the most authentic Mexican, but to be fair it's not trying to be.


    You're absolutely right.

    Lalo's isn't trying either to be authentic either, and I've had some meals at Lalo's that I didn't think were bad. Given the option, though, I would go elsewhere.

    Hammond

    PS. We liked the lamb, too.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #13 - February 7th, 2007, 11:30 pm
    Post #13 - February 7th, 2007, 11:30 pm Post #13 - February 7th, 2007, 11:30 pm
    HI,

    Yesterday I was in Evanston still considering a trip to Smoque, when IDOT radio provided an estimate for Lake-Cook Road to downtown at 2.5 hours. My friend Helen didn't get my message to stay home. She tenaciously managed to reach Old Orchard on time.

    While Smoque wasn't in the cards, we decided to go to Renga-Tei. We got there to find not one tire track in the parking lot. They were closed on Tuesdays, like most Japanese restaurants in the area. I knew it and I blew it! I'm tired from the cold, hungry with my patience wearing thin and my mental roledex is running in hyper speed. Oh the joys of knowing my cellphone is shattered at home waiting to be exchanged. I see a Long John Silvers and for a moment thought a fish sandwich might do. I then recalled reading Wholly Frijoles was just east of Renga-Tei. I drove over to find it open and plan C was set into motion.

    I had been to Wholly Frijoles once 18 months ago with friends who called at 5 PM to get a table at 6:15. I called a few minutes later to reserve an earlier table, only to find they were now booked 2-3 hours into the future. I've had a friend for months suggest going there and begged off because of the crowds. Lunch on a snowy day was a very different story with most of the tables empty. If there had been any hint of a wait, then Long John Silvers would have sold one more fish sandwich.

    Our meal commenced with the complimentary salsa and chips. This salsa was not the hottest I have encountered, though it was smokey complex salsa. I usually am a light dab will do salsa consumer, I was scooping up salsa instead and actually finished the generous quantity offered us.

    I ordered the tacos al pastor meal, which came with soup or salad for $5.95. I ordered the chicken garlic soup, which came with a large crisp crouton similar to French onion soup. The crouton still retain much of it's crispness in the wonderfully garlicky chicken soup.

    Image

    My friend Helen opted for the vegetable tortilla soup, which she allowed me to sample. It had a wonderful creamy mouthfeel with a hint of chili heat. The presentation for a modest lunch was very, very nice:

    Image

    We both ordered the al pastor tacos because we were intrigued by the description, "Order of tacos with gyro style meat (leg of lamb, beef and pork loin topped with diced red onion and cilantro). We really thought this was outstanding, plus it came with a small cup of beans.

    Image

    I ordered a 4th taco of beef, which cost $2, though the meat quality and presentation was exceptional for a taco:

    Image

    Normally I skip dessert, though I had the feeling they would make a very good flan. I wasn't disappointed with my choice of coconut flan with toasted coconut, a sprig of mint and lightly sweetened real whipped cream.

    Image

    Our entire lunch before tip was just over $23. for a well executed meal.

    I inquired with the waitress how are the crowds typically at lunch. She advised they are much busier than what I saw, which means this is an ideal bad weather destination for lunch. As much as I enjoyed our meal yesterday, I'm still not inclined to wait.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #14 - August 4th, 2007, 7:53 pm
    Post #14 - August 4th, 2007, 7:53 pm Post #14 - August 4th, 2007, 7:53 pm
    Just went to Wholly Frijoles for the first time, and I have to say we were underwhelmed. Looking at C2's post above, I wonder if it's the same place - the 'spouse had the tortilla soup, whose taste profile was very much one of those composite canned soup recipes where you mix a can of tomato soup with a can of black bean soup - it looked nothing like that.

    I ordered camarones a la plancha, my plate came back with exactly 6 shrimp sauced with mole, embedded in a row on a huge pile of chipotle (?) mashed potatoes. They came with a side of very nice jicama slaw and red rice. There was also a salad that I quite liked, actually - kind of like cole slaw but with shredded iceberg lettuce and veggies, seasoned with cilantro. Fine, but for $14, I expected more...more shrimp at least. Sparky had a flautas kids meal, which was a single halved flour-tortilla flauta with a side of rice and french fries (no pico, avocado, or sour cream, which were missed) The 'spouse had his favorite chile relleno - but said it tasted like the cheese was canned. It came with the ubiquitous red rice and pinto beans. We'd started with guacamole, which was a huge serving, but lacked the bright notes of cilantro and lime. Even the chips seemed packaged. That being said, we did have excellent horchata and limonata.

    Keep in mind that I'm not a fan of hot-spicy food - but I'd agree with other posters that this food is not for fans of authentic Mexican food - it also lacks the bright tones and rich undertones I look for, and in comparison to your average Clark st. taqueria, it's expensive - a little over $40 for this meal. Really, it put me in mind of my in-law's favorite chain, Abuelo's - which, granted, is better than most chains. If you are reluctant about Mexican food, this is probably a very good place to dip your toes in - or an excellent place to take your reluctant in-laws. Me, I'll stick with the bad parking and potential lard-and-chicharron induced thromboembolism on Clark St.
  • Post #15 - April 21st, 2008, 11:48 am
    Post #15 - April 21st, 2008, 11:48 am Post #15 - April 21st, 2008, 11:48 am
    I'll admit the name Wholly Frijoles turned me off to visiting this restaurant, for a long time. Too cute to be a good Mexican restaurant, I thought. And then when I got over my name aversion either I passed-by the restaurant when the wait was longer than I was in the mood for, or it was Sunday - when it's closed. Well, last Saturday night, the stars aligned and, with just last-minute plans to dine with a neighbor, I visited Wholly Frijoles for the first time.

    I was impressed.

    My dining companion is seriously ill and doesn't eat much (quantity) these days, but she still enjoys getting out of the house when she can; she wasn't in the mood for an appetizer, so we concentrated elsewhere on the menu. The guacamole looked good, though, as wait staff carried orders to other tables.

    For my entree I chose a combination plate: Camarón & Bistec. For a starter I chose the Sopa de Tortilla. The friend ordered Tacos de Carne Asada, with a starter of the house salad.

    My Sopa de Tortilla was the highlight of my meal. Thick, creamy, full of flavors - I could have eaten nothing more than a large bowl of this and been content. I did share a portion of my friend's large house salad - finely chopped and lightly dressed with a creamy (ranch?) dressing. The salad was fresh, and pleasing to the palate.

    The carne asada skirt steak was well - but not too-well - seasoned, and tender for the cut. Medium is what I ordered and that's how it arrived. Together with the carne asada on the same platter were 5 (maybe 6?) shrimp - camarones a la plancha - that had been prepared with lime and garlic and arranged on top (or on the side) of a large portion of chipotle mashed potatoes. The shrimp were covered with the chipotle sauce preparation used with the potatoes. I'd never had chipotle mashed potatoes before and the sauce was an excellent both in the potatoes and on top of the shrimp. My combination plate included some Spanish rice, which was typical of what you find in just about any Mexican restaurant, and by a small container of frijoles charros (of which I ate very little and about which I have no opinion to offer).

    I didn't sample my friend's tacos, because the meat is what I'd ordered. She complained, however, that she'd asked for the meat to be more rare than how it arrived at the table - which looked to be medium-well.

    The basket of tortilla chips and smoky, but not too hot, salsa placed on the table in front of us pre-meal was enjoyed by both of us. I applied some of the salsa to my carne asada and together with the seasoning on the meat it was a tasty/enjoyable/flavorful (got 'em all in!) experience.

    My dining companion wanted flour tortillas for her tacos and I ordered ones of corn. The tortillas brought to the table with my meal were the small ones and they worked well as I made a few tacos out of what I was eating.

    To wash-down my meal I ordered a tall glass of horchata. The horchata seemed too watery, wasn't very flavorful, and it resisted every attempt of mine to blend the cinnamon sprinkled on top into the water - which I found strange. I did order another drink, later - Té de Canela Frío - cinnamon-flavored iced tea, which I enjoyed. My friend drank two or three cans of Diet Coke.

    I suppose had we not walked in front of the adjacent Baskin-Robbins on our way into the restaurant we would have had dessert at Wholly Frijoles, but, instead of eating anything more in the restaurant we excused ourselves and stopped next door for some treats. I suspect the ice cream parlor's business has increased since the restaurant moved-in next door - because we weren't the only restaurant customers who'd walked through the doors seeking ice cream for dessert.

    We arrived at the restaurant just before 5 p.m., on a Saturday, and we were seated within 15-minutes of our arrival. With the exception of the two largest tables in the main dining room (being held for two different parties/celebrations), all tables were full. The restaurant remained full during our hour-long visit, and when we left there were probably 10 people waiting to be seated (4 or 5 different groupings).

    Service was good. Wait staff was attentive but not over-bearing. Everyone was efficient, and I've no doubt that the efficiency helps to keep tables turned at a reasonable pace. Everything unfolded smoothly, calmly and relaxed.

    The decor of the main dining room impressed me as having a Pacific Coast of Mexico color scheme - Vallarta, Acapulco. The tables were spaced well, not too crowded. The overflow dining room, however, impressed me as being too crowded - as if you're sitting in the lap of the persons at the table next to you - and I don't think I'd enjoy eating in that environment.

    I was impressed, too, with how smoothly the food seemed to come out of what appeared to be a very small kitchen. Again, there must be good efficiency to accomplish that - given the steady flow of customers in the restaurant.

    Another satisfying observation: there was a sprinkling of Mexicans/Mexican-Americans amongst diners and I overheard some of them complimenting the food. For a Mexican restaurant located in Lincolnwood, I took this as a good omen.

    In the "coming attractions" department: Lincolnwood has redesigned the streetscape on the block in which the restaurant is situated. Once the weather gets warmer, Wholly Frijoles will have seating outdoors in front which looks suitable for about 20-25 persons in a nicely landscaped environment. What impact traffic passing closely along Touhy Avenue will have on a dining experience is something to watch for.

    The check for the two of us came to $32.

    For me, the satisfying visit will prompt a return engagement in the near future. I regret that it's taken me so long to get to Wholly Frijoles - given the fact I live about a mile east of the restaurant.
  • Post #16 - April 24th, 2008, 12:22 am
    Post #16 - April 24th, 2008, 12:22 am Post #16 - April 24th, 2008, 12:22 am
    I will forever love this restaurant for the sake of my nephews. Years back, they used to rave about "this weird soup with tortilla things" in it. Located in a strip mall, with no valet parking, I was hesitantly surprised by the food. Been back several times. Fresh cooking and kid-friendly is a working formula these days and W.F. does it well.
    "Mmm...this IS a tasty burger !" - Jules Winnfield
  • Post #17 - April 24th, 2008, 8:09 am
    Post #17 - April 24th, 2008, 8:09 am Post #17 - April 24th, 2008, 8:09 am
    patrickfrancis wrote:Located in a strip mall, with no valet parking, I was hesitantly surprised by the food.


    Often times, strip malls are havens for very good food. The relatively lower rent prices are very attractive to smaller, more hands-on operations.

    There's more good strip mall food to be had just west of W.F. at Renga-Tei. No valet there either :)

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #18 - April 24th, 2008, 8:27 am
    Post #18 - April 24th, 2008, 8:27 am Post #18 - April 24th, 2008, 8:27 am
    eatchicago wrote:There's more good strip mall food to be had just west of W.F. at Renga-Tei. No valet there either :)


    The sushi chefs at Renga-Tei were lamenting the loss of 7 parking spaces in the city mandated reworking of their parking lot. It's much tougher to find a space there than before. At least the food is still great.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - October 18th, 2018, 2:18 pm
    Post #19 - October 18th, 2018, 2:18 pm Post #19 - October 18th, 2018, 2:18 pm
    Yesterday the Evanston Lunch Group™ had lunch here. Everything was very good. Here's what we had:

    Guacamole - freshly made chunky guacamole *for spicy ask your server (which we neglected to do but should have) (sorry, I didn't take the photo till after we had started on it)
    Image
    Entrees came with a choice of tortilla soup:
    Image
    Or small chopped salad:
    Image
    Ensalada de pastelito de cangrejo (lunch special) - Creamy and chunky crab cake salad (mixed greens, grape tomatoes, radish, corn, onion, queso fresco, avocado, tossed in lime/balsamic vinaigrette, along w/coconut remoulade sauce)
    Image
    Tlacoyo con tinga de pollo (weekly appetizer special) - Homemade blue corn masa flat oval bread topped w/black beans, tangy pulled chicken, fresco cheese & sour crema
    Image
    Filete de huachinango TIKIN-XIC (weekly seafood special) - Yucatecan style red snapper fillet marinated in citrus/achiote paste Wrapped in banana leaf w/pickled peppers, onions & tomatoes then chard grilled, along w/green salsa cruda
    Image
    Chile Relleno - Poblano pepper stuffed w/cheese
    Image
    Carne Asada a la Parrilla - wholly frijoles marinated grilled outer skirt steak
    Image
    Borrego en chipotle - slow braised boneless leg of lamb in chipotle negra modelo beer sauce
    Image
    P.S. Ten year bump!
  • Post #20 - March 11th, 2019, 2:12 am
    Post #20 - March 11th, 2019, 2:12 am Post #20 - March 11th, 2019, 2:12 am
    I have been informed by another foodie that the desserts should not have been missed, and specifically the key lime pie is the best short of making a trip to Florida.
    --Carey aka underdog
  • Post #21 - March 13th, 2019, 3:14 pm
    Post #21 - March 13th, 2019, 3:14 pm Post #21 - March 13th, 2019, 3:14 pm
    I stopped by today and was informed that Key Lime pie is no longer on the regular menu. Occasionally it is reported to appear as a special. I might have tried the Mango cheesecake(?) pie, but decided at $6.50 I didn't need the calories.
    --Carey aka underdog
  • Post #22 - June 20th, 2020, 1:58 pm
    Post #22 - June 20th, 2020, 1:58 pm Post #22 - June 20th, 2020, 1:58 pm
    I picked up this afternoon from a very busy Wholly Frijoles, and was rewarded with one of the best dining values I have experienced in years. My meal was so good it is worthy of a bump on the board.

    I just wanted some basic Mexican home cooking, enchiladas filled with steak, cheese, and carrot chunks, with pipian mole. I order here regularly, usually something covered with mole negro, my favorite, but today, I wanted a change in my comfort food.

    Wow, was this a terrific meal! I make my own mole on occasion, and I find it difficult to get the complex mix of ingredients to harmonize consistently. This mole was perfect, great spice blend, wonderful texture, just the right amout of heat; this was as good a pipian mole as I have ever tasted, apologies to Paco at New Rebozo!

    Even better, this was gourmet restaurant quality food at near home cooking prices. So I have another mole near Skokie that I can count on when I get a craving, and I receive Bayless quality at Lincolnwood prices! There are still some real values in takeout dining these days, and I experienced one today.

    Well done, Wholly Frijoles!

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