Mercadito

While I still have a lot of Chicago Mexican restaurants to check off my list, I think Mercadito will always hold the crown as my number one. They have my all-time favorite taco on their menu (the camarón featured below) and some of the most unique margaritas I’ve ever tried. I also devour their awesome mango guacamole each time I’m there! While Mercadito is a little on the expensive side, you are sure to never leave hungry as these tacos are certainly belly-fillers. Here is what I got the last time I was there for dinner, but their menu has so many options and you can never go wrong with what you order!

We started off with a duo of their house-made guacamole. Choosing the Traditional, that had tomatillo pico de gallo, jalapeño, garlic, key-lime, cilantro and the Mango with jícama, chipotle, pico de gallo were two very wise decisions!

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I’ve been trying to work my way through their cocktail menu, so each time I go I try a couple different ones. The last time I went I got the most unique margarita I’ve ever tried called the “Smokey Pablo” which reminded me of a blueberry barbecue sauce– very different! This time I went with two that were more refreshing. The first was the V-9  which had pineapple, greens, ginger and lemon. It was quite tasty.

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The second margarita I tried was their Pera Te which had black tea infused tequila, pear, lime juice and agave nectar. While I didn’t like this one as much as the V-9, it was still enjoyable!

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For dinner we did what most people do when they come to Mercadito- share the tacos to try as many as possible before getting stuffed! The first to come out was the Estilo Baja with beer battered mahi-mahi, some spicy aioli and mexican-style coleslaw. YUM.

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The next taco we ordered was my personal favorite, the Camarón. I mostly like this because of the always cooked-to-perfection tender pieces of shrimp and the really spicy sauce they drench this taco in. It is heaven on a homemade tortilla!

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The last taco we got was on special that night and incorporated some Italian flavors, which I can never say no to! This was a meatball taco with mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes. I’ve never had anything like it, it was so so good! And it was a good thing we ended on this one because it was the most filling out of all of them.

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If you are ever craving some never-fail-delicious Mexican in Chicago, Mercadito is the way to go!

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Shrimp and Rice Cakes

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Hope everyone had a great holiday filled with family, fun and FOOD! I know I did. The only post-holiday dilemma I seem to run across is left overs. This year, we had a giant shrimp cocktail platter for our appetizer that was fresh and delicious. The only problem was that there was a lot of fresh seafood leftover that we had to eat before we left for vacation the next day. I decided to whip up some shrimp and rice cakes for dinner and they turned out great! I served these for dinner but I think they’d be perfect for a quick, crowd pleasing appetizer too! I adapted the recipe from Old Bay, my favorite seafood seasoning from Maryland.

Shrimp & Rice Cakes 

3/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped

2 teaspoons shallots, chopped and sauteed until translucent

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 cup of panko breadcrumbs

Sauce:

1 cup of low fat sour cream

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Begin by removing tails from the shrimp and chopping into small pieces.

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Add cooked and cooled rice, flour, Old Bay seasoning and baking powder to the chopped shrimp and stir to combine.

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Next, add the wet ingredients: milk, butter and eggs and stir to combine. Sprinkle in basil.

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Form into flattened patties and dip both sides into panko bread crumbs until well coated. Arrange on a greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 6 minutes and then flip the cakes to other side, allow to bake for 4-6 minutes on opposite side.

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Serve warm with sour cream and Old Bay sauce and ENJOY!

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