Restaurant for Two: a feature where I bring a friend to a restaurant and we write a review together. Thanks to John for joining me at Ixcateco! I’ve eaten dinner at Ixcateco and was lucky enough to try brunch recently as well. Check out my review on their dinner, too!
Ixcateco Grill in the Albany Park neighborhood presents authentic Southern Mexican cuisine. Chef Anselmo Ramirez uses fresh, locally-sourced organic or sustainably-raised ingredients as often as possible. This BYOB restaurant is packed for dinner every weekend, but the brunch crowd was scarce and not because the food isn’t great. Brunch service at Ixcateco is new, so I expect that people will come. It’s not located in the most convenient area, but the fresh ingredients, friendly service, and innovative cuisine make it worth the trek.
What brunch is complete without mimosas?! The orange juice is fresh-pressed and delicious. An idea for Ixcateco: offer carafes! We only had a little room left at the top for our BYO champagne.
Each table is treated to free chips and perfectly-spiced salsa. We also tried the guacamole which was full of chunky avocado – just the way I like it!
After noshing on the traditional Mexican starters, the picaditas were a welcome appetizer. Filled with roasted poultry carnitas, avocado cream sauce, queso ranchero, and pickled cactus, the corn “boat” holding all of the ingredients was somehow crunchy, yet soft. I would have liked more of the filler, but still felt satisfied afterward. The cactus added a tang and a fun crisp. The meat was perfectly seasoned, though a little overcooked.
The omelette with roasted shrimp, onions, and red peppers was served with a side of greens. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, offering the snap and opaqueness you want. Both pieces of this dish were over-salted, though, unfortunately.
Next up was the ever-popular huevos rancheros. We loved the texture of the green beans and were pleasantly surprised at the garlic mashed potatoes found nestled at the bottom (If you read my dinner post on Ixcateco, you’ll know why this makes me so excited!). The eggs were fluffy and the guajillo sauce was mild and tasty.
I’m a huge fan of steak, though don’t eat it very often – red meat is bad for you, bad for the environment, etc. etc. – so ordering the carne asada was a real treat. We ordered it medium and it came with a great crust on the outside, making it both tender and with a slight crunch. The steak is served with a slightly spicy tomato molcajete sauce on top, as well as black beans and guacamole on the side.
Overall, we were really happy with our brunch. We left feeling full and satiated. The brunch menu is small, but mighty, so I plan on coming back to try more!
3402 W. Montrose
Albany Park, Chicago