Slightly authentic and very excessive Mexican fare at Autentico 5 de Mayo

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Presumably its not always this empty
A 24-hour Lakeview diner with white tablecloths, chandeliers, a jukebox, and a couple flat-screen TVs, Autentico 5 de Mayo seems to have a slight identity crisis. Maybe that explains why the spacious Tex-Mex restaurant was almost entirely empty on a recent visit—or maybe it was the fact that we went at 6 PM on a Sunday. It certainly can't be explained by the quality of the food (mostly excellent) or service (prompt and friendly), or by the prices (very reasonable).

Maybe it's just that no one has the energy to read the entire menu. I don't even have the energy to count all the items on it, but I'd estimate there are close to 150 options, not counting choices like whether to get steak, chicken, chorizo, veggies, chile relleno, or rib eye in your burrito. Of course, about half of those are breakfast dishes: omelets, breakfast skillets, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, Benedicts, breakfast burritos, pancakes, crepes, Belgian waffles, French toast, or combination platters (the place advertises itself as "Mexican cuisine and American breakfast," though there's also a "Mexican breakfast" category). For dinner, there's tacos, enchiladas, tortas, nachos, flautas, tamales, tostadas, quesadillas, burritos, and salads, plus 30-odd larger entrees—and again, combination plates.

Tres salsas

Those combination plates—which offer different combinations of quesadillas, tacos, burritos, and the like—are the best option for trying more than one hundredth of the menu on a single visit (though it's still not easy, since the portions are enormous). Meals start with chips and three types of salsa, followed by a surprisingly good chicken noodle soup with potato and vegetable chunks. The "Mexican combination" comprised a moist, meaty chicken tamale topped with a mole sauce and a little cheese; a cheese enchilada with salsa verde; and a taco filled with flavorful steak, lettuce, and tomato (chicken is another option for the taco)—all served with rice and beans.

Camarones borrachos—shrimp sauteed in tequila with mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes—were fresh and abundant, though just slightly on the rubbery side of done. Most impressive (and overwhelming) was the "Alambre 5 de Mayo," a pile of grilled steak, chicken, and bacon topped with cheese and ham and, like the shrimp, served with rice and beans and grilled potatoes. It was rich and satisfying, and though it didn't arrive with the avocado that the menu promised, we were too stuffed by that point to ask for it. (NB: If you want to order more than two dishes, it's probably best to bring more than two people.)

Alambre 5 de Mayo

Oddly, dessert is the one category missing from the menu—not that we minded by that point in the meal.

Autentico 5 de Mayo, 3223 N. Clark, 773-880-0082

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