410 W. State St.
If this is not the tiniest restaurant in Chicagoland, we would like to know what is. Occupying a small storefront originally inhabited by a nail salon, Bien Trucha (“Good Trout”) has five small tables with a maximum seating capacity of no more than 15; a reviewer on Serious Eats says it has “the square footage of a Volkswagen Jetta.” Yet all the food in this tiny place comes at you with an amazing amount of flavor and creativity, making it into one of the blogosphere’s new favorite Mexican restaurants. Obviously, we had to go. What we found was a tiny restaurant with a great knack for doing simple ingredients and flavors amazingly well.
We started with a pair of appetizers: Mexican-style ceviche ($7.95) and Poblano chile soup with potato cubes and queso fresco ($3.95). M is not normally a fan of Mexican ceviche (he goes for Peruvian when he can) but found this better than most others he has tried: the tomatoes, fresh fish, cilantro, lime juice, and avocado were served in a more generous portion than is typically found, and the extra juice from the limes and tomatoes kept the entire mixture very well-balanced, both in flavors and texture. Likewise, the Poblano chile soup was a treat, and managed to be both creamy and light. Straight, simple, and to the point – a great prelude to the rest of our meal, and an excellent warm, smooth appetizer to pair with the ceviche.
But Bien Trucha’s tacos are their specialty. We tried three varieties, all on flour tortillas: Camarón Tacos (grilled spiced shrimp with an avocado slice, $9.95;); Bien Trucha Tacos (grilled skirt steak, chorizo, manchego cheese and tomatillo-serrano salsa, $8.95) and Tacos de Pescado (battered fried tilapia, cabbage, onion, lime and chipotle aoili, $8.95). Each variety was nearly perfect. Served in groups of four on a simple wooden board, their presentation is a perfect complement to Bien Trucha’s style. What really stood out to us was how fresh everything was – even the fish tacos were great all this way inland. While we don’t know if these tacos are worth a 2 hour drive, if you are anywhere near the West suburbs, they’re worth the trip.