The idea of a Mexican restaurant that primarily serves seafood may make you squirm in your seat. What's a fajita without juicy steak or an enchilada without chicken? But according to Mexico City native, owner Rick Gutierrez, a fajita or enchilada with shrimp is better than any meaty Mexican dish you've ever had.
With long coast lines on both the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean, a large percentage of Mexican food is centered on seafood, and Gutierrez opened El Barco in hopes of exposing Chicago to what he calls "real Mexican cuisine." To get his point across from the get-go, his restaurant's fašade resembles a ship, and nearly a dozen life-sized blue marlins hang from the cobalt-colored ceiling.
The enormous menu (both in physical size and number of options) boasts a bevy of entrees with shrimp, red snapper, crab and octopus as their main ingredients. Gutierrez recommends the huachinango al mojo de ajo, red snapper in a garlic, wine and cilantro sauce for $15.96. The parrillada, with grilled and breaded filet of fish, grilled chicken breast, shrimp, skirt steak, crab legs, octopus, onions, fried potatoes, rice, beans and pico de gallo, will leave you stuffed for days to come. If you still can't stomach the thought of Mexican seafood, El Barco offers a handful of steak or chicken dishes.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown