We just completed another Meso event, full of spices and chocolate, with much more to report. But first, one of our conversations about favorite restaurants inspired me to post something that’s been on my mind ever since Chicago Magazine published their list of The 8 Best Mexican Restaurants in Chicago.
This list is fascinating. I have so many questions. For example, how many Mexican restaurants did they sample, and with what range of dishes? What was the geographic boundary they used when defining “Chicago?” Why the number 8? How did they define “Mexican?”
Why did they feel so definitively confident that these are The 8 Best Mexican Restaurants in Chicago?
I also wonder how the editors would respond to the comments posted in response to the article, specifically the fact that restaurants in areas of Chicago with high percentages of Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants, such as Little Village and Pilsen, are conspicuously absent. Or that seven of the eight restaurants on the list received fewer than three stars, or below a “very good” rating. To further complicate the matter, Chicago Magazine had recently published this mouthwatering and thoughtful compendium of tacos places in Chicago, with depth and understanding that makes this list all the more mystifying.
The purpose of this post is not to lambast another’s opinion about food. It’s to question the parameters that are assumed about cuisine. More pointedly, I ask if these preconceptions reflect assumptions about culture itself. What does this list say about visibility and understanding of Mexican culture in Chicago?
At Meso, we talk about dining experiences pretty frequently, and last Sunday we asked our guests to tell us about their favorite restaurants and what they love about them. Answers included comments about accessibility, comfort, confidence, freshness, with emphasis on personal experience as well as quality of food. Of course, these lists are always subjective. But we prefer to question our preferences with the hope that it brings us closer to truth, or at least to understanding.
Tell us about your favorite restaurants, Mexican or otherwise, and why you love them!