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Watch: A Trailblazing Chef Is Transforming Chicago’s Understanding of Mexican Food

‘Open Road’ heads to Mi Tocaya Antojeria to meet Diana Dávila

When friends and readers reach out wondering where they should eat in Chicago right now, I’m sending them to Mi Tocaya Antojeria, whether or not they’re asking for a Mexican restaurant recommendation. Illinois native Diana Dávila runs the 38-seat restaurant in Logan Square, her cooking ringing through the city’s ever-growing chorus of Mexican cuisines with a gripping melody — singing of family and identity and place.

Dávila’s cooking doesn’t hew to any one particular region of Mexico. Among the four choices for tacos, “Chucho’s Pollo” best showcases Dávila’s knack for odd, winning combinations: smoked chicken mingles with puckery xoconostle, a fruit in the prickly pear family, plus crumbly queso and threads of cabbage for crunch. Some of most fascinating dishes pull from Dávila’s imagination, like an early signature she calls “peanut butter y lengua.” For the dish, she braises beef tongue before pan-crisping the pieces and dressing them with splatters of smooth, spice-riddled peanut salsa.

The Spanish phrase mi tocaya has no exact equivalent in English, but it roughly translates to “my namesake” or “my other.” It’s a poetic and fitting name for the restaurant of a chef whose cooking comes across spectacularly well as memoir.

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