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What's New: The Master's Mole, a Taste of the Andes, and the Old Something for Everyone Problem

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Delicioso y Sabroso

10468 S. Indianapolis

773-374-6089

Delicioso y Sabroso is two, two, two restaurants in one: Delicioso is a white-tablecloth space, Sabroso, a more casual cantina. They have different menus but they share the same kitchen, and the rooms are separated by an aisle lined with agave plants. At Delicioso the focus is on the seven moles of Oaxaca; at Sabroso the lineup is more about tacos and gorditas, though the menu includes tlacoyos and garnachas (small boats or rounds of masa filled with beans or meat). On either side of the house you can get the coctel campechana--shrimp and oysters in a satisfyingly balanced sweet-hot tomato sauce. There's a good range of seafood as well, perhaps reflecting the Guerrerense roots of Geno Bahena (Tepatulco, Ixcapuzalco), identified on his business card here as "Chief Mentor." He's been spotted in the house, and even if he isn't sweating over the skillets he's directing the action--and it shows. We greatly enjoyed Delicioso's mole verde (seemingly the same as at Sol de Mexico and Tepatulco) and the much rarer mole chichilo, with a fruity snap of chilcostle chile that enlivens even chicken breast. Borrego (mutton) in a dark sauce of chile cascabel and woodland mushrooms was well cooked and complex. There's an effort here to educate (regional origins are explained for many dishes) and intoxicate (passion fruit margaritas are popular), but it's hard not to be disappointed when stiff industrial-grade tortillas are served with $18 entrees. Still, if you've just been wiped out at one of the nearby casinos, Delicioso y Sabroso, in the shadows beneath the Dan Ryan, might lift your spirits. --David Hammond

Machu Picchu

3856 N. Ashland

773-472-0471

Machu Picchu is a work in progress. On my weeknight visit the dining room, decorated with a couple photo murals of Peru, was less than half full, and evidence of growing pains included disorganized service, discrepancies between menu descriptions and what came to the table, and an unannounced substitution on the Piqueo Machu Picchu Dos Personas, one of two four-dish samplers for $40. The extensive menu resembles Rinconcito Sudamericano's, and for a good reason: cooks Violeta Abad and Abraham Contreras worked there for years. Some of the standouts are the same too, including the anticuchos, spicy grilled beef hearts marinated in oil, vinegar, garlic, and peppers. Other openers range from seviches to papa rellena, a deep-fried mashed-potato ball that arrived lukewarm with a bland beef stuffing. Chupe de camarones, a creamy corn-and-pea-studded chowder, was stocked with jumbo shrimp and spiked with huacatay (black mint); sudado de mariscos, steamed shellfish and chewy squid in tomato sauce, was served with boiled potato but not the promised white rice (a problem with other entrees as well). Arroz con pollo, cooked in Inca corn beer, featured green rice and bone-in chicken chunks nicely flavored by cilantro, which also brightened seco de carne, a beef stew with reasonably tender meat. Aji de gallina, finely shredded chicken in a blend of ground walnuts, milk, and cheese, was very mild despite the aji panca chiles listed in the description, and cau-cau, honeycomb tripe and cubed potatoes, was downright tame compared to fiery versions I've had laced with yellow chiles. There were no desserts, though I was told they're available on weekends. Machu Picchu currently is BYO; a liquor license is in the works. --Anne Spiselman

Chicago Ale House

2200 W. Lawrence

773-275-2020

If a high school business class had an imaginary budget to build an imaginary restaurant, they might come up with something like the Chicago Ale House in Lincoln Square. It has something for everyone! Do you have pot stickers? Yes! Chicken noodle soup? Yes! Salad caprese? Baby back ribs? "South of the border quesadillas"? You got it! The concept, carefully disclosed to us by our waiter, might work well if the restaurant wasn't in, you know, Chicago: the only restaurants with "something for everyone" are inside malls in the great suburban nowhere where the competition is nothing for no one. Or if everything, or even something, was done particularly well. But the pad thai tasted like it was from an ethnic MRE packet; hummus--a mere mile from the half-dozen excellent versions on Kedzie--was dry as dust. The Buffalo Trio, fried shrimp, wings, and "our famous chicken strips"--in short, the sort of food Chicago Ale House should damn well get right--was disappointingly bland, a waste of a deep fryer. Chicago Ale House's selling point is its beer, of course: there are 60-plus drafts. But they've been selected with little passion or imagination, and it says everything you need to know that Miller, Budweiser, Old Style, PBR, and Coors, in their various permutations, take up a bewildering nine taps. --Nicholas Day

Other recent openings

African Harambee 7537 N. Clark | 773-764-2200

Al Primo Canto 5414 W. Devon | 773-631-0100

Chaise Lounge 1840 W. North | 773-275-2020

Gloria's Cafe 3300 W. Fullerton | 773-342-1050

La Pomme Rouge 108 W. Kinzie | 312-245-9555

For more on restaurants, see our blog The Food Chain at chicagoreader.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Eric Futran.

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