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The Chicago Traveler


by Matt B on October 23rd, 2007

'Salpic'n! in Old Town (a little more than a block south of Wildflowers) is decorated with bright yellow and blue walls and pink-and-white tablecloths, but customers are attracted to this high-end Mexican eatery for more than its colorful atmosphere. In fact, this small yet upscale restaurant is often filled to the brim with fans of owner Priscila Satkoff's culinary skills, so reservations are certainly recommended.

SalpiconSo what's all the hubbub about? The word 'salpic'n' is a conjugation of the word 'salpicar,' meaning 'to splash,' so let's start off with a drink. The horseshoe-shaped bar pours out margaritas, cervezas, wine, and over 100 different kinds of tequila. The cocktails come strong here, so you'll probably want to get some appetizers as well, such as tamales, queso fundido con camarones (melted Chihuahua cheese with serrano chiles, onions, and tiger shrimp), or guacamole with chips and fire-roasted salsa.

The menu serves up an authentic array of classic and contemporary Mexican dishes. Fortunately, my less-than-fluent Spanish helped me out here. However, if your Spanish vocabulary is limited to words that can be found on a Taco Bell menu, you're in for some reading. Every listed entr'e is followed with a rather long description in English. For example, the chiles do'a queta are translated as 'a poblano chile stuffed with huitlacoche (earthy corn mushrooms), fresh corn, and zucchini, served in a roasted poblano cream sauce and an ancho chile filled with potatoes, Chihuahua and cotija cheese with a sweet-spiced roasted tomato sauce.' Whew! That's a mouthful. However, as detailed as the description is, it still doesn't come close to describing the wonderful flavors that you will experience. Meat-lovers should definitely try the chuleta de puerco en manchamanteles, a grilled double-cut pork chop in chile sauce. If you want to try a little of everything, a seven-course tasting menu is available for $60 per person, $95 when served with matching wines. The prices may seem high, but the portions here are huge, so saving room for dessert could prove difficult.

Make a reservation for Sunday brunch, and you can enjoy a mimosa or tequila sunrise with your omelet de huitlacoche (omelet with saut'ed mushrooms), arrachero con huevos (steak and eggs), or huevos rancheros (sunny-side eggs served with spicy sauce and black beans).

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) birdfarm

'Salpic'n! ($$$): 1252 N Wells St; 312-988-7811
Sun ' Thurs: 5:00 p.m. ' 10:00 p.m.
Fri ' Sat: 5:00 p.m. ' 11:00 p.m.
Sun brunch: 11:00 a.m. ' 2:30 p.m.
Street parking difficult; valet available ($8)
Public trans: Bus # 70, 156 or Red Line (Clark/Division)

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POSTED IN: Restaurants

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