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Mitad del Mundo

View Map2922 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago
Tel: (773) 866-9454
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Editorial Review of Mitad del Mundo

Jimmy Espinoza might be the most entertaining restaurant owner in town. The Ecuador native often prances around the dining room with a microphone in hand, keeping the beat to salsa rhythms or greeting his compaņeros in both Spanish and English as they find their way to the bar. By 9 p.m. on weekend nights, a live band sets up shop in a separate room and brings the crowd of Latino regulars to their feet with salsa, merengue and even bumpin' reggaeton music.

After working every job imaginable in the restaurant business, Espinoza opened his own Pan-Latin restaurant three years ago, featuring cuisine from Cuba all the way to Peru. Meat dishes include various steaks with rice, beans and plantains that range from $11-$15; Spanish-style chicken for $11; or a host of pork options for $10-$11. But if you really want the island flavor, call ahead and order the Spanish paella, which takes 45 minutes to make. This concoction of seafood rice with lobster, red snapper, chicken, mussels, claims, scallops and shrimp will run you $48. Mitad's seafood stew and a host of seafood platters will cost between $15-$22. Before the dancing begins, top off your meal with one of the restaurant's succulent desserts like caramel custard or flan.

Average cost: $21-$30

Centerstage Reviewer: Jacob Wheeler

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5 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday

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chicago, metromix