So much has changed about Pilsen over the last decade. It wasn't too long ago that it was frontier country for none but the most pioneering hipsters. Few would argue that the neighborhood hasn't exactly gentrified, but, along 18th street at least, there's a bustle of activity that wasn't present even a few years ago.
Taking its place alongside such Pilsen giants as Nuevo Leon is Mundial. Here, there's a focus on Mexican seafood dishes that have something of a "world culture" influence. "My passion for food came while traveling," says owner Mario Cota, who has seen his fair share of change, as the place went through a number of different chefs in the span of a year. "I realized that in order to fully understand and learn about a culture, food plays an important role."
The restaurant itself is upscale and beautiful. Blue cloth napkins shock in contrast against a wall painted an earthy orange, adorned with sculptures of the sun. Dinners are pricy, most entrees starting around $16 and heading up to nearly $30, but well worth it: The camarones Mayas, featuring grilled shrimp with shallots, asparagus, roasted red peppers and bacon Swiss chard fried rice is amazing at $21.
Mundial was once BYOB, but now offers a selection of wines and beers, as well as a $13 tequila flight.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman