Adobo Grill in Old Town is a huge place. Massive. And crowded. There’s a reason why: they do Mexican food very, very well. It’s actually a small chain–if it can even be called a chain (Wicker Park and Indianapolis are the other two places). The bright, open airy place has splashes of rich red colors and Mexican folk art, a nice counterpoint to the crowds who pour in here on weekends, and it’s whimsical enough to not be a cliché of a Mexican restaurant.
Cuban music provides a festive atmosphere appropriate for the mix of
clubbers, foodies, and out-of-towners enjoying Adobo’s rich offerings
of regional Mexican food. Phil Vetell gave this
moderately-priced place three stars…I don’t seem to believe he’s
always this generous, especially for this type of restaurant. He gave Moto three stars and Salpicon.
One of the first things you notice is the servers making guacamole tableside. It’s a gimmick in my opinion but it’s nonetheless delicious. And our guacamole, made with a bit of jalepeno for a kick, was unfortunately not enough for four of us. Another
thing I noticed was the wait staff, who appeared to nearly all be from
Latin America if not Mexico, and our waiter was genuinely enthusiastic
and proud about the food. I point this out
because it’s sometimes unfortunate when the person born in America
takes your order and the person from Mexico pours your water, and this
seems to happen frequently even in Mexican restaurants.
Our other appetizer was the sopes surtidos. The sopes were cooked perfectly and evenly, not chewy around the sides. There were four different types: pork tenderloin, chorizo and chile, plaintain with mole negro Oaxacan, and wild mushrooms with corn and poblano. This
was accompanied by a delicious margarita shaken at the table (another
gimmick), but its smoky agave tequila with fresh lime juice was savory
I ordered the lomito en mole negro, which was a grilled pork tenderloin with mole negro Oxacan sauce. The tenderloin was moist, perfectly cooked, and the sauce complemented it well without being too heavy or overpowering. The corn tamal and garlic spinach accompanying it were also well prepared.
Our desert, a cheesecake poured with cajeta (a sweetened, condensed milk) was a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic meal.
We need more mid-priced restaurants serving good authentic regional Mexican food. The other place that comes to mind is Rique’s in Uptown. Of course, there are Rick Bayless’ restaurants and Salpicon but they tend to be a bit more on the upper end of the price scale. Man can only eat so many tacos and burritos.
1610 N. Wells