I was excited to see that the Reader was featuring Mexican restaurants this week [January 16] and eagerly opened my issue to discover new places or something off the beaten track. Chicago is the city with the second highest concentration of Mexican restaurants in the United States, and there are large Mexican enclaves such as Pilsen and Little Village, among others. I expected to find an article about undiscovered gems.
Instead, only one restaurant from these areas was selected. Although Nuevo Leon is noteworthy due to its ambience and murals, it certainly can't be the only Mexican restaurant of interest on the south side. The only other featured restaurant not located in a gentrifying or yuppified neighborhood was one that appeared to have been selected for the "gross-out" factor, as the reviewer concentrated on describing the sheep-eyeball and the sheep-head tacos. All right, maybe I don't want to be that authentic!
Come on! If you are going to do future features about ethnic dining, let's look beyond Lincoln Park, Near North, and Lakeview. Maybe your reviewers need to get out and do some research or legwork to avoid turning in the same unimaginative listings.
Laura Levy Shatkin replies:
The Reader's online Restaurant Finder (at www.chicagoreader.com) includes many undiscovered gems, especially in ethnic neighborhoods: we now list 126 Mexican restaurants, 23 of them in Pilsen, 3 in Little Village. In an effort to be fair to restaurants, we generally don't publish restaurant capsules in the paper until we have at least five reports from the Reader Restaurant Raters, our team of 2,000 civilian reviewers. Anyone can be a Rater, and the more the merrier. Visit our Web site and sign up now.