We like to think that we’re an educated group at The Infatuation. We went to colleges and universities that had libraries chock full of books. Seriously, books stacked to the ceiling. We saw them once. So we get a little annoyed when we go to a “nicer” spot and all they do is call it “small plates” when we both know damn well that’s just two tiny tacos on a tiny plate. You can’t fool us. We took calculus and aced the test about the taco theorem. So we get very excited when we go to a Mexican place that serves something different than just a fancier interpretation of a Taco Bell menu.
Chilam Balam is a fun little basement room where you’ll be packed together with other people, all eating shareable Mexican food. The menu shifts regularly, but think ceviches, moles, empanadas, and cuts of meat, all with a unique take. Oh, did we mention it’s BYOB? It’s BYOB, though there are some restrictions: you can bring one bottle of wine or six-pack per couple, or one 750ml bottle of tequila. Yes, the only type of liquor you can bring is tequila because Chilam Balam apparently never had a terrible night as a sophomore in college.
It’s a great spot for a date, and you may even be able to impress said date by providing the translation of the name Chilam Balam, “book of the jaguar priest.” Will your date believe you? Who knows, but as long as you get some of the smashed potato salad with brussel sprouts and chorizo on the table, it will be brushed under the table. Because chorizo cures all ailments. Except for heart disease, it probably doesn’t cure that. Trust us, we once took a class in college next door to a pre-med class.
So bust out the booze you have lying at home, bring some cash (it’s a cash-only spot), and head out to Lincoln Park to eat actual, honest to goodness Mexican small plates.
Guacamole: Have you ever gone to a Mexican restaurant and not immediately ordered the guacamole after sitting down? Don’t break that streak now.
Our favorite thing on the menu if it's available. You wouldn’t think that potatoes, a lot of brussels sprouts, and chorizo make sense together, except they taste incredible together. You may want to get two orders, just to prevent serious fighting over the last bites of this.
If raw fish is your thing, absolutely get this. Even if it isn’t you should get this. Some sort of ceviche can be expected.
Shiitake mushroom empanadas with a little Wisconsin cheese and salsa verde. Sharing empanadas is a good way to make friends, and we're into this veggie version.
A huge stack of damn good ribs. We know you’ll order this because you’ll see it on someone else’s table and think to yourself that you want a huge stack of damn good ribs on your table. And you’d be correct. Good thinking, your brain.
Looks good and tastes good too. Order anything that catches your eye.