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La Encantada

View Map3437 W. North Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 489-5026
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Editorial Review of La Encantada

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

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noon-3 p.m., 6-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday

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chicago, metromix