809 E Lake Street
Who knew it would be so easy to escape late-February’s bitter cold via Lake Street? One bite of my pollo taco at Los Ocampo, and I was transported to the sunny streets of Mexico much faster and cheaper (and tastier!) than any airline can boast.
In search of a sit-down Mexican restaurant with authentic food and — this is key — chips and salsa as you wait for your meal, we found something slightly different – yet just as satisfying. Los Ocampo offers more than 40 menu items for diners to debate, along with umpteen choices of meat, so we revealed our rookie card by hemming and hawing over the selection for quite some time. Ten minutes later, we approached the counter with our dinnertime decision: a chicken chipotle taco and pollo mexicana gordita for me, and a beef enchilada platter for Jim.
We were seated less than ten minutes when the server brought our food — much quicker than I expected, considering the sign (in Spanish only, for some reason) that basically said: “BE PATIENT! To recreate authentic dishes from recipes we’ve had for generations, we give personal attention to each dish so preparation will take longer than it would in other restaurants.”
Jim’s enchiladas covered a massive plate — with lettuce and sauces literally dripping off the side — so his rice and beans had to be served on a second platter. We were most impressed with the mass quantity of enchiladas and the fresh slices of avocado and tomato included in the $10 combo meal. My taco was excellent — spicy, cilantro-laden, and topped with fresh radishes — but my gordita was the highlight. Sandwiched by two thin, lightly fried corn tortillas were spicy chicken, melted cheese, onion, tomato and lettuce. I topped it with the house specialty (green avocado hot sauce — be sure to ask for it!) to add additional flavor, making it extra spicy but not overpowering.
I believe we learned a good lesson last night — complimentary chips and salsa aren’t the sole factor for excellence. And Los Ocampo will likely hit the spot time and again.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Ambiance/Environment: ♠ 1/2
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠
Service: ♠♠ 1/2
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠ 1/2
Total bill: $18