La Cecina: Restaurant Familiar
Given that we live on the Near West Side and have various connexions to Hyde Park, we get the opportunity to pass through and investigate many of the intervening neighbourhoods on a regular basis. Among the more interesting stretches for food is the Mexican neighbourhood focussed along 47th Street. This area is rightly being given some renewed attention through the planned group-visit (link) coming up in a few days and this post is a little foreshadowing for that event. But it should also be noted that this area was explored in years past by two of the maestros of culinary exploration in Chicagoland, fellow LTHer Rene G, who seems to have been the first of the chowhounds to investigate this zone, and RST, who also visited and wrote on a number of places there. Here are some links to old threads in Lefflandia:
http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... 13513.html
http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... 13568.html
http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... 27557.html
http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... 38489.html
An excellent example of a kind of Mexican restaurant in Chicago is La Cecina on the northwest corner of the intersection of West 47th Street and Winchester. The kind of restaurant in question here is the family restaurant, serving no alcohol, fairly large in size, with an extensive, largely pan-Mexican menu including also some regional specialties. A better known -- perhaps the best known -- example of this style of restaurant is Pilsen’s Nuevo Leon on 18th Street just east of Ashland: Clean, kid friendly, usually fairly busy, and serving very good food at reasonable prices and in ample portions, La Cecina is the Guerrerense analogue to that norteño stand-by.
With Lent now past, for the first time in 7 weeks it was once again possible to visit a Mexican restaurant without being ridiculously constrained in eating options. Indeed, I took the opportunity to revel in the consuming of flesh and so ordered la carne charra, which from the menu I expected to be a steak served with ‘charro’ style black beans, which should involve pork in the preparation. My meaty expectations were vastly exceeded by the dish actually served, for whereas I expected either chorizo or bacon with the beans, they came instead with both lots of chorizo and several large pieces of bacon and an ample amount of chopped ham to boot!
Here is the whole handsome platter, with good rice, a bit of salad and an orange slice, and a large piece of first class carne asada that is wholly obscured by the gargantuan portion of the tasty pork-n-beans:
Amata ordered a huarache with cecina and also a quesadilla filled with requesón. I sampled both and thought the huarache was fine and the cecina flavourful. The quesadilla struck me, however, as really special, even more satisfying than the tlacoyos de requesón at Nuevo Kappy’s (link) of which we are so fond. This quesadilla had a little more of the cheese and thus a -- to my mind -- perfect balance of masa to filling.
The tortillas are house-made and very good and the chips offered when one arrives are clearly made from those tortillas and are quite good, so too the roasted vegetable salsa served in a molcajete along with those chips.
La Cecina is a very pleasant family restaurant with very good Mexican food and some Guerrerense specialties. There are a number of daily specials throughout the week and both birria and barbacoa are offered as well.
P.S. Not recommended for the carne en su jugo by Pigmon, though!
1934 West 47th Street (by Winchester)