Mercadito (Chicago)

10609639_10202949740603781_8774902288918479729_n I'm still trying to figure out why Austin, Texas, the capital of "Tex-Mex + Girls' Nights Out" meals has never (to my knowledge) offered the brilliant large-party feature that proves to be Mercadito's specialty for bachelorette parties, coupled groups, or hungry girls like ourselves. The Tex-Mex on our tastebuds had the seven of us craving anything and everything about Austin (as we do daily), but this Chicago restaurant gave us the perfect taste of the place where we found the finest of friendship.

For $30/person (of parties of seven+), our party chose three types of guacamole, 2 types of salsa, 4 types of tacos, 2 sides, and a dessert tasting. The spread (and service) was glorious. Here's what we chose and highly enjoyed:

Tradicional, mango, and torreado (chile, garlic, oregano) guacamoles. Tomatillo and verde salsas. Shrimp tacos with mojo and avocado. Skirt steak tacos with jicama slaw and crispy shallots. Chicken al carbon tacos with roasted corn, queso fresco, and crispy avocado. Blackened swordfish tacos with cabbage-jalapeño slaw. Mexican-style corn on the cob (the winner). Home-style rice with black beans.

An impossible feat, the meal arrived plate by plate, with a full serving of every dish to feed our overwhelmed appetites. Besides a few super-spicy components, every dish was executed with originality and high quality. The quantity of food and attention to ingredients were well worth my "per person" check. In fact, I urge you to find six or more friends, make a reservation, and order the exact list above. Plus a cucumber pepino el pyu cocktail (below), which was so fabulous I could've had my own pitcher.