In a pocket of Lincoln Park where a handful of burrito joints satisfy clubbers' late-night demands for munchies, Tepatulco delivers more adventurous Mexican food presented in an artful way. While your less-enlightened (or just drunker) neighbors chomp on burritos as big as their heads at La Bamba
across the street, you can get more refined dishes inspired by all of Mexico's states.
Sopes surtidos get the evening started right with fresh corn masa boats filled with various ingredients: chicken in red mole sauce, a sweet plantain with a dollop of sour cream, black beans topped with mushroom-tomatillo salsa, and guacamole with a spicy kick. The corn masa boats might not be as big as your head, but they are presented in an impressive, elegant way, and everything tastes crazy fresh—thanks to Bahena's use of ingredients from local growers of organic food. Picaditas de chapulines (corn masa boats stuffed with black beans and grasshoppers topped with a tomatillo salsa) and vuelve a la vida (a cocktail of shrimp, bay scallops, marlin ceviche and avocado in a limey cocktail sauce) are other menu highlights (items run from $7.50-$21).
Other tempting dishes include chicken enchiladas with red mole sauce; vermicelli simmered with roasted tomato and chile chipotle and layered with grilled zucchini, mushrooms and herbs; and salmon marinated in green mole sauce with pumpkin seeds. Try to leave room for dessert, too; sweet treats include cream cheese flan with lime and brandy; coconut pie with slivered almonds and tangerine sauce; pineapple upside-down cake with homemade vanilla ice cream; and buttered crepes with caramel, pecans and plantains.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Mary Susan Littlepage