Hours: Lunch: Friday-Saturday; dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11
Michelin-recognized Yucatecan restaurant.
Relocated from a desolate stretch in Cicero to a busy corner in Brookfield, Xni-Pec aims to enlighten patrons about Yucatecan cuisine while avoiding, in the words of owner Antonio Contreras, becoming "more a museum than a restaurant." That’s a concern because Xni-Pec studiously avoids offering many Mexican standards, instead aiming to open eyes to the Mayan-influenced culinary canon. You can get a bowl of guac, sure, but servers always go out of their way to explain the ancestry behind their more distinctive dishes, and the focus is on authenticity. Contreras and his mother handle the cooking (several dishes are designated "mom’s recipe"), and other family members handle service. Cochinita pibil, slow-roasted pork, is a prerequisite for those new to the cuisine; tikin xic is a beautifully prepared fish seasoned with achiote and sour orange, then steamed with vegetables in a banana leaf. Papadzules, tortillas soaked in pumpkin seed sauce, filled with chopped egg, and draped with tomato salsa, are a lightweight dish with lots of flavor. Other plates you won’t find at most other Chicago Mexican spots include pan de cazon, a stack of tacos filled with black beans and baby shark, and Mama Contreras’s mole rojo with a proprietary paste of chiles, almonds, and a wisp of cocoa. When you visit, be sure to ask if they’re serving any off-menu specials; we inquired and were rewarded with capirotada, a traditional Lenten bread pudding, full of raisins and memorably delicious.
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