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Yolo Mexican Eatery - Skokie, IL

Yolo Mexican Eatery - Skokie, IL
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  • Yolo Mexican Eatery - Skokie, IL

    Post #1 - August 17th, 2009, 9:51 pm
    Post #1 - August 17th, 2009, 9:51 pm Post #1 - August 17th, 2009, 9:51 pm
    LTH,

    Parking for lunch at Village Inn I noticed Yolo. A glance in the window seemed to indicate they were close to opening. Interior looked moderately upscale. Bartenderess at Village Inn had no info on Yolo, but said a new bakery was soon to open around the corner on Lincoln Ave.

    Image

    Love parking in Skokie, meters are 2-hours for 25cents.

    Yolo Mexican Eatery
    5111 Brown Street
    Skokie, Il 60077
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - August 17th, 2009, 10:17 pm
    Post #2 - August 17th, 2009, 10:17 pm Post #2 - August 17th, 2009, 10:17 pm
    This used to be Papillon, yes? I ate there once after a concert. Is there a possible tie to the previous owners (or hint of what region or pan-region they're taking on?)

    Incidentally, any picture of a restaurant with a car in it now needs to disclaim whether said vehicle is owned by the poster, e.g., I scoped out Yolo, and yes, that's my car.
  • Post #3 - August 17th, 2009, 11:18 pm
    Post #3 - August 17th, 2009, 11:18 pm Post #3 - August 17th, 2009, 11:18 pm
    Santander wrote:This used to be Papillon, yes?

    A quick internet search for Papillon/Skokie puts it at the same address, so yes, used to be Papillon.

    Far as region goes, no idea, I snapped the picture, peeked in the window and was on my way.

    If it's not a powder blue 1978 AMC Pacer then its not my car. ;)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - August 18th, 2009, 2:16 am
    Post #4 - August 18th, 2009, 2:16 am Post #4 - August 18th, 2009, 2:16 am
    I know this is off-topic but:
    Love parking in Skokie, meters are 2-hours for 25cents.

    Well, lah-di-dah, Mister "I Like Reasonable Parking Rates"! I'm just gonna go home and weep softly over my ever-diminishing roll of quarters... :cry:

    I will comfort myself by daydreaming about the 5-cent parking meters on the south side of St. Louis...oh yeah, baby, that's (not) the ticket...
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #5 - August 18th, 2009, 5:26 am
    Post #5 - August 18th, 2009, 5:26 am Post #5 - August 18th, 2009, 5:26 am
    geli wrote:I know this is off-topic but:
    Love parking in Skokie, meters are 2-hours for 25cents.

    Well, lah-di-dah, Mister "I Like Reasonable Parking Rates"! I'm just gonna go home and weep softly over my ever-diminishing roll of quarters... :cry:



    Looking forward a new joint near my office.

    If you're willing to walk about a block west, you can save your quarters and park for free. My roll of quarters is very dusty. :)
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #6 - November 13th, 2009, 9:37 am
    Post #6 - November 13th, 2009, 9:37 am Post #6 - November 13th, 2009, 9:37 am
    Paid a quick first visit to Yolo. Looks promising. Very homey. Sort of a mish-mash of Mexican regional. The hostess/co-owner said they were planning on making seasonal revisions to the menu. Had the plantain enchiladas with mole negro. Very creamy plantain filling well balanced by the sweet-hot mole. Pricing is very reasonable and it's BYOB. Hope to make a longer visit with a few more people so I can get a better sampling of the menu (and aside from a number of off-menu items they'll happily accommodate requests). In any case, it's definitely worth a visit.
  • Post #7 - January 6th, 2010, 8:58 pm
    Post #7 - January 6th, 2010, 8:58 pm Post #7 - January 6th, 2010, 8:58 pm
    We ate dinner at Yolo tonight. It was WONDERFUL!!!

    Yolo is located in a small storefront in downtown Skokie, a few doors west of Village Inn Pizza, on the side street (Brown). I counted 26 seats, with two booths seating four each, and seven square tables with two of them set for four and the others set for two. The décor is pleasantly contemporary and understated.

    As we were seated, our server brought us complimentary chips and salsa. The chips were good but fairly standard; the salsa was the first tip-off that this is a very special restaurant! They change salsas from one day to the next; yesterday's was guajillo, and tonight's was piquin, a bright orange, fairly mild salsa that was just superb.

    As we perused the menu, we noticed that many of the dishes had unusual sounding sauces. We regretted that we couldn't try everything on the menu, they sounded so good! This chef has a great way with sauces, which make many of their dishes unique.

    We started with the Tlacoyitos Veracruz. This reminds me of the corn masa boats (sopes) served as appetizers in some other Mexican restaurants; however, at Yolo, this dish is served over wheat flour-based pancakes rather than corn-based "boats". There were three: one with steak strips, one with chorizo, and one with mushrooms. They were accompanied by sides of sour cream and a really interesting and spicy/hot tomato pico de gallo. And they were yummy, as good as any sopes I've had in Chicago.

    We also had our beverages at this point. Tonight's aguas frutas frescas included jamaica (hibiscus) and pineapple, so I ordered the latter, and it was very good. My companion ordered the Mexican hot chocolate. Compared with others I've had, Yolo's was somewhat mild in chocolate flavor, and they added real vanilla to it, which made it very nice indeed, with the mild chocolate allowing the vanilla to come through. Excellent.

    The main courses came next. I had their Oaxaca Mole, which was a chicken breast covered in black mole sauce (mole negro). The menu says it's "bone in", but what arrived was boneless. And it was delicious, very moist and flavorful. I'm a big fan of mole poblano, and theirs may be the very best mole I've ever had! It was very spicy/hot, more so than most, and it also had more chocolate flavor than most, but without being overly sweet. My companion had a chicken breast with a pipian (pumpkin seed) sauce that was also delicious, thick, and creamy.

    For dessert, they were out of flan, which they normally have; they had two desserts made on site, one an apple crostada that is usually on the menu, and the other a nightly special of plantains or bananas (I forget which) cooked in brandy. They also had a tres leches cake that was bought from a bakery; I ordered the latter and it was actually pretty good, as it turns out.

    I really wanted to try some of the other entrees - the salmon in creamy sesame seed sauce, the cochinita pibil, the plantain enchiladas, and a bunch of others - but I'll just have to wait till next time.

    Prices are moderate, with entrees in the low teens. They are currently BYOB.

    We were chatting with our server; the restaurant is owned by her, her husband, and her uncle. Her uncle is the chef and was formerly an experienced chef at restaurants in Mexico. They decided to name the restaurant Yolo, a shortened and easier-to-pronounce form of "yolotl", the Aztec word for heart. They hope to have their own website up within a month. Yolo is open six days a week starting at 12:00 noon for lunch and dinner, closed Sundays. (We looked at the lunch menu before leaving and it sounded pretty good, but the most creative dishes with the most interesting sauces were those on the dinner menu.)

    Yolo has been open for four months. Right now it reminds me of Mixteco Grill before they expanded - a very small restaurant with a very talented chef serving amazing Mexican food, the kind of place that you just KNOW is going to get more and more business as word of mouth spreads, that will eventually need a bigger space. They're actually doing pretty well already; about half the tables were occupied when we were there tonight, on a cold winter weeknight. This is a true neighborhood gem, and a convenient option for anyone who lives in the northern suburbs. Try it and I bet you'll share my enthusiasm for it!
    Last edited by nsxtasy on January 7th, 2010, 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #8 - January 7th, 2010, 9:40 am
    Post #8 - January 7th, 2010, 9:40 am Post #8 - January 7th, 2010, 9:40 am
    Thank you for the review, nsxtasy. Yolo is now on my list of places to try.

    nsxtasy wrote:The main courses came next. I had their Oaxaca Mole, which was a chicken breast covered in black mole sauce (mole poblano).


    FYI, a Oaxacan black mole, or mole negro, is different from mole poblano. Mole poblano hails from Puebla (hence the name) and I would describe its color as a dark reddish-brown. Since your dish was labeled Oaxacan and black in color, your dish was more likely a mole negro.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #9 - January 7th, 2010, 10:07 am
    Post #9 - January 7th, 2010, 10:07 am Post #9 - January 7th, 2010, 10:07 am
    eatchicago wrote:FYI, a Oaxacan black mole, or mole negro, is different from mole poblano. Mole poblano hails from Puebla (hence the name) and I would describe its color as a dark reddish-brown. Since your dish was labeled Oaxacan and black in color, your dish was more likely a mole negro.

    Thanks for the clarification; you're correct on all counts. I've edited my previous post accordingly.
  • Post #10 - January 10th, 2010, 11:04 pm
    Post #10 - January 10th, 2010, 11:04 pm Post #10 - January 10th, 2010, 11:04 pm
    I went to Yolo for a late-ish dinner last night.

    Based on some of the comments here, I was pretty excited. Coming out of it, I thought it was a fine meal but I'm not rushing back.

    First of all, this place is very small. It can't seat more than 25 or so. I imagine they have a small kitchen and only a few employees, but service was definitely slow. I had the orange piquin salsa that nxtasy described and I would describe it as a complex flavor with building heat - but on the mild side. The salsa was quite good. Chips were store bought.

    We also had the tlacoyitos and I enjoyed them a good deal. Based on the menu description and what we were served, these were corn-based rather than made with wheat. The toppings were good, the chorizo especially so. The carne strips were not over cooked which was nice and they were accompanied by a tangy salsa that brought a little heat.

    First the mole. The menu definitely described the mole served as Mole Negro and Black Mole (with 32 ingredients! Sweet and spicy!). When it was served, it was a dark reddish brown like every other mole poblano that I've had. Its taste was in that ball park too. So, as mentioned upthread, I concur that this is mole poblano.

    Now a few comments about the menu. Though this place seems to have some authentic touches (a changing variety of salsas, tlacoyitos, mole, etc), the menu shows evidence of having been adapted for a suburban palate. The waitress (+ owner, manager?) said that nothing on the menu is very spicy (aside from the mole which I found quite sweet). The menu also featured a fair amount of chicken breast. The cochiniti pibil was made with pork tenderloin and according to the waitress, was accompanied by a "pretty mild" habanero sauce.

    The chicken with mole was highly recommended. My dining companion got that. I ordered a chicken dish in pipian sauce with chihuahua cheese (I think?) chorizo and verdolaga (purslane). Both chicken dishes were listed as bone-in breasts. There were no bones to be found anywhere. It was either one breast pounded flat in paillard fashion or two flattened, thin breasts connected and folded over. My companion's chicken was overdone. Mine was cooked properly. I found the mole to be overly sweet and redolent of chocolate. It was not at all spicy. My dish was actually the more flavorful of the two, although I didn't find or taste the chorizo. Previously, I have only had a greenish pipian but this was a yellow-orange (probably from the cheese). I liked the sauce a good deal. Tortillas were store bought, but re-steamed nicely.

    When ordering, I expressed an interest in a hotter version of this sauce only if the waitress thought it would be a good addition. They were very accomodating and offered to bring a hotter version alongside in a small cup. I found that it was spicier but that it made the sauce one-note and preferred the more balanced version on my plate.

    Anyway, I found the food tasty enough, the staff friendly and eager to please. There's just not much more of the menu I'm anxious to explore and I don't know if I would return solely for the dishes I had (though I did enjoy them). I was not impressed with the mole and the overcooked chicken probably could have been avoided if they had served the bone-in breast that they advertised.

    The staff was sitting down to a meal which included large bowls of soup. Maybe that's something to try when and if people drop in.
  • Post #11 - January 11th, 2010, 12:11 am
    Post #11 - January 11th, 2010, 12:11 am Post #11 - January 11th, 2010, 12:11 am
    The one comment I have is that I thought the mole - whatever kind it was (and there seems to be some disagreement on that) - was pretty spicy. Not habanero spicy, but maybe a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. It's possible we have different opinions on what's spicy; it's also possible it was spicier the night I was there than yours was. I also did not think it was overly sweet at all; despite the stronger chocolate emphasis, I thought it was no sweeter than the moles I've had at Fuego, El Tipico, etc. (which could also be a difference of opinion or a variation in the dish itself). I thought it was great, a "do not miss" dish.
  • Post #12 - January 11th, 2010, 10:51 am
    Post #12 - January 11th, 2010, 10:51 am Post #12 - January 11th, 2010, 10:51 am
    The cochiniti pibil was made with pork tenderloin and according to the waitress, was accompanied by a "pretty mild" habanero sauce.

    I'm glad she informed you in advance. If I ordered cochinita pibil and got what's described above, I'd be on an F-You rampage seldom seen before.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #13 - January 11th, 2010, 12:55 pm
    Post #13 - January 11th, 2010, 12:55 pm Post #13 - January 11th, 2010, 12:55 pm
    Yeah, it's difficult to imagine pibil made with pork tenderloin, and the sauce being mild-however they prepare this, I daresay they are taking a few too many (non)artistic liberties with tradition on this one.
    I love animals...they're delicious!
  • Post #14 - January 11th, 2010, 6:42 pm
    Post #14 - January 11th, 2010, 6:42 pm Post #14 - January 11th, 2010, 6:42 pm
    The cochinita pibil was described on the menu as being prepared with tenderloin. When the server said that really only the mole was spicy, I asked about the cochinita pibil as the menu said it was served with a habanero sauce. To my surprise, she said it really wasn't all that spicy. According to the menu, the dish does feature the achiote seasoning that all pibil requires.
  • Post #15 - January 18th, 2010, 12:31 pm
    Post #15 - January 18th, 2010, 12:31 pm Post #15 - January 18th, 2010, 12:31 pm
    I dropped by for a pair of takeout dishes at Yolo last week for me and my wife, and can say that we heartily recommend the restaurant, at least after one experience.

    We are developing a palate for mole, and we found the mole negro at Yolo to be very good, although different than other mole negro that we have enjoyed. The mole was served over a chicken breast. Our serving had the breastbone still in place, but otherwise was essentially boneless. The serving was very large - my wife got two full meals from the dish - and quite tender, with the white meat very moist and flavorful. The mole was appropriately complex; it appears that both Mexican chocolate and ancho peppers were ingredients in the 32 ingredient mix. Other mole negro that I had before had a poblano flavor to it, this one did not. It was a bit more spicy, especially with hot peppers, than others I've tasted, but it was satisfying, and appetizing. The side dishes were white rice and refried beans, and the beans were good.

    Our other dish was "pechuga de pollo Moctezuma", described on the menu as a chicken breast with a mix of verdolagas (Mexican parsley or purslane), Oaxaca cheese, homemade Mexican sausage, and pipian sauce (pumpkin seed based). It was served with sauteed spinich and rice, with fresh corn tortillas. This was the better dish of the two; a boneless cutlet of chicken was covered with a wonderful green sauce that reminded me of a pipian mole. The sausage was subtle, the cheese integrated into the sauce, the flavor of the purslane created a nice acidic contrast to the smooth flavor of the sauce. Again, the serving size was quite large, and well prepared, with attention paid to the details - the sauce was just lovely.

    Both our items were priced in the low teens, which we thought was more than fair for the degree of skill and value of ingredients presented.

    I chatted with one of the owners while I was waiting for our orders, and was impressed by her knowledge of the restaurant business, and Mexican cuisine in general.

    Yolo is a little gem of a restaurant, and for now, it will stay BYO. I worry that because they don't get a lot of foot traffic, folks won't find them - sort of the fate that doomed Papillon in the same location.

    We'll be back, because I have to try the cochinita pibil! We'll be telling our friends, and hope that more LTH'ers get to Yolo.
  • Post #16 - March 12th, 2010, 3:30 pm
    Post #16 - March 12th, 2010, 3:30 pm Post #16 - March 12th, 2010, 3:30 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:They hope to have their own website up within a month.

    yolomexicaneatery.com
  • Post #17 - March 12th, 2010, 4:03 pm
    Post #17 - March 12th, 2010, 4:03 pm Post #17 - March 12th, 2010, 4:03 pm
    $8.95 for huevos rancheros?
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #18 - March 13th, 2010, 9:42 pm
    Post #18 - March 13th, 2010, 9:42 pm Post #18 - March 13th, 2010, 9:42 pm
    We went back to Yolo again this evening and it was every bit as excellent as our previous visit. One important thing to note, however: the restaurant was fully booked with advance reservations this evening (a Saturday) and they were turning away potential walk-in customers without reservations.

    The three of us split two appetizers: the Tacos Mulin chaai, soft-shelled tacos of shredded chicken with their mole negro, just wonderful, and a repeat performance of the Tlacoyitos Veracruz corn cakes (see above).

    For mains, I had the chiles rellenos, and I had them substitute their wonderful mole negro for the sauce (for an extra $2 charge, that's fine with me). The chiles were interesting; the peppers were your standard poblanos, but the ground beef filling on one included some small pieces of diced carrots and potatos rather than the more common rice, and the chicken filling was chicken finely shredded. It was an excellent dish. My companions had the pork tenderloin in a creamy poblano pepper sauce, served with mixed vegetables and sweet potato puree, which was okay although somewhat mild and maybe a bit overdone, and a repeat of the excellent chicken breast with pipian sauce (see above).

    We skipped dessert in favor of their delicious Chocolate Con Leche (hot chocolate), which I really love (see above; the balance of the somewhat mild chocolate with the added vanilla is phenomenal).

    This was another wonderful dinner, and for an extremely reasonable price (the bill for the three of us was $78 including tax, before tip). The ability to BYOB added to the value.

    Viva Yolo!
  • Post #19 - March 16th, 2010, 7:17 pm
    Post #19 - March 16th, 2010, 7:17 pm Post #19 - March 16th, 2010, 7:17 pm
    Went here tonight and heartily agree with the glowing reviews above -this place was terrific. Our appetizer was the chicken tacos with mole and verdolagas salad, both very good. For my main I got the enchiladas with plantains and mole and my dining partner got the chile rellenos. The combination of the sweet plantains with the mole, with essence of chocolate and spices, worked beautifully. The chile rellenos were also excellent; I liked that they don't bread them, but rather drap them with a chile sauce and let the peppers speak for themselves. Finished things off with a decent flan, but at that point we were so full and happy nothing could put a damper on the evening.

    Without LTH I would never have stopped here. I am very happy to have a place like this, serving excellent true Mexican food, close to where I live. I wish the best to this business and will certainly be back.
  • Post #20 - December 17th, 2010, 12:40 pm
    Post #20 - December 17th, 2010, 12:40 pm Post #20 - December 17th, 2010, 12:40 pm
    Just to let fellow LTH'ers know, as of December 16, Yolo is no longer open for luncheon.

    I really hope this is just a response to the lack of street traffic in the area, and the owners realized that they weren't making enough profit on lunch to justify continued operations.

    I still highly recommend Yolo as the only authentic Mexican place in Skokie, and a very good one at that, but I really hope they can make a nice go of it doing dinner only. Their tamarind mole is a real revelation!

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