3 Mexican Restaurants—2 New, 1 Classic—for Business Entertaining
New Mexican restaurants are popping up all over town. Here's the scoop on two that are suitable for business entertaining, and a look into the private dining room at Rick Bayless's classic.
1. Earlier this week, Mercadito opened in River North. The first Chicago location of a New-York-based chain, the 120-seat restaurant is decorated with rope lanterns, columns wrapped in wire mesh, and a behind-the-bar light sculpture that incorporates pierced metal pyramids. Semiprivate dining can take place at a communal table that seats 14, or in a tequila lounge that seats 35 and looks out onto Kinzie Street through garage-style doors. Sharable menu options include mango guacamole, scallop ceviche, and tacos filled with beer-battered mahi mahi or grilled pineapple and pork. Stocked exclusively with tequilas and beers, the bar offers specialty cocktails such as the Tres Citricos, which combines tequila with orange, grapefruit, and lime.
2. A sister restaurant to Logan Square's popular Fonda del Mar, FDM Mexican Cuisine and Bar is a white-tablecloth restaurant in North Center. Able to host seated dinners for 100 or receptions and buffet-style meals for 200, the space can also accommodate semiprivate events for 40. With a focus on seafood, the menu offers selections such as roasted tilapia in creamy poblano sauce, jumbo-lump-crab ceviche, and mani mahi steam cooked in a banana leaf. The restaurant opened in late April.
3. Owned by Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill houses a private, bookshelf-lined Library Room that can accommodate dinner parties for 12. The space offers its own five-course menu, which changes monthly and has included squash-blossom soup, Baja fish tacos, and lamb ribeye smothered in garlic-infused chile sauce. Servers shake up tableside margaritas, and each course can be paired with wine. The restaurant's event director can arrange for custom floral designs.
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