Sol de Mexico

Sol de Mexico

By David Hammond

What first attracted me and a coterie of food-loving friends to Sol de Mexico was a sign in that once hung in the window: tortillas hechas a mano. A seemingly small thing, the tortillas–still handmade–make a huge difference. Tender, moist corn disks have the power to elevate the most humble dishes. With Sol de Mexico’s signature finely-crafted moles, you will hold in your hand a culture’s flavors. Sopa Azteca, a piquant broth enjoyed summer and winter, starts a dinner with clear flavors and bracing heat. Tamales Oaxaqueños de puerco, masa cakes filled with pork and steamed in banana leaf, are served with classic black mole, a balance of myriad chiles’ heat and cacao’s bittersweetness. Mar Cielo y Tierra Azteca, a sampling of green, white, and red moles (our server noting, colors of the Mexican flag), is ladled over tortillas filled with shrimp, chicken, and skirt steak. Sol de Mexico opens the palate to indigenous ingredients, including huitlacoche, the inky corn fungus, and guaje, a pod of crunchy and slightly bitter seeds sprinkled on food or ground into moles. A side of frijoles charros, pinto beans spiced with bacon and poblano chiles, offers deceptively simple but immense satisfaction. With a focus on heritage preparations, Sol de Mexico encourages culinary exploration, warmly challenging diners to consider the immense range of Mexican food that exists beyond the burrito.

sweet seats

Sol de Mexico’s storefront window seats look out on to the wide lanes of Cicero Avenue and a herd of fiberglass cows in front of and on the rooftop of the big meat market across the street.

chew on this

Chef Clementina Flores could literally be called the mother of moles in Chicago. Her son, Geno Bahena, was among the first local chefs to encourage diners to look beyond run-of-the-mill taco joints. At restaurants like Ixcapuzalco, he introduced Chicagoans to a changing daily menu of moles, the complex sauces characteristic of Mexican states like Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero. Where did he learn how to make such marvelous moles? From his mother, Doña Flores.

hours

Mon., Wed.–Sat. 11 AM–10 PM
Sun. 11 AM–9 PM

price range

$6 (sopa Azteca) to $20.95 (borrego en mole negro)
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