If you're craving quick tacos, you'll have no problem getting your fix on this part of North Avenue. But if you're looking for a little more upscale Mexican dining experience, there's really only one place to go in Humboldt Park: La Encantada.
This restaurant offers dishes that'd be unique almost anywhere in the city, like the nopalitos ($4), a side of sauteed cactus cooked with herbs, onions and jalapenos. Or the chile en nogada ($8), a poblano pepper stuffed with beef, dried fruits and nuts. Ladled with a savory and sweetly nutty sauce, the dish is a refined gut-buster.
For the less adventerous, the tried-and-true conventional Mexican dishes still offer a few pleasant twists. The crepas de mole ($10), crepes rolled with your choice of shredded chicken, beef, or cheese, come with a generous ladle of mole sauce. Sweetly tinged with a smack of cinnamon, it's definitely not the same mole that comes out of the jar at your local bodega. The carne asada oaxaca ($13) comes perfectly cooked and moist, which isn't always the case with skirt steak ordered medium rare. All entrees also come with a heaping stack of corn tortillas, all the better to soak up the appropriately stiff margaritas.
The organized and calmly lit dining space also serves as a gallery of sorts for Mexican-influenced art. A cursory survey of its loft-size walls reveals handsomely framed textiles, photographs and paintings. No need to look around, though; the nicely plated meal in front of you will look just as artful.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Ling Ma