When Argentina-born Patricia Tapia went to visit her sister in Mexico more than 15 years ago, she immediately fell in love with the vibrant culture, flavorful food and colorful, emotional art. When she returned to the States, she still had Mexico on her mind, and decided to open the original Que Rico to bring some spice to the city. To keep her restaurant as authentic as possible, Tapia makes four annual trips annually to Mexico for new recipes and artistic inspiration.
This second location of her highly successful restaurant offers the same menu of Mexican favorites as the spot on Southport. Calming earth tones make customers feel at ease— milky beige walls, rust-colored tiles and handsome, wood-framed doors that open to let in a pleasant breeze. Mosaic-patterned tiles from Jalisco, Mexico, adorn the doorways, and creatively collaged images of Frida Kahlo’s bold "Self-Portrait with Monkey" cover the front room. The restaurant fills up quickly, with everyone from guys in suits to families with small children, but ample space ensures that no one should wait long.
Though prices run steeper than most Mexican joints, the quality ingredients make it worth the extra cash. Margaritas are made with freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices (not that store-bought mix crap) and come in plenty of varieties including original, bombers (more tequila!) and blue (made with cabo cuabo tequila). Entrees like the chiles rellenos (poblano peppers filled with Chihuahua cheese) cost about $15, as do most of the other main courses like veggie fajitas and carne deliciosa. Adding a touch more alcohol to the end of the meal with the banana boracha ($7), a banana simmered in spirits, finishes the feast on a sweet note.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Alicia Eler