On Sunday I took a short trip down 18th Street, past some of my usual stops. Joined by a dear friend from out of town as well as a great bottle from Lush, the 2005 Jaume Mesquida, a floral, light-bodied red from Mallorca, Spain, we headed over to Mundial Cocina Mestiza, still full of pleased-looking diners at 8.30 on a hot Sunday night.
The hostess sat us in the back space, which lacks the people-watcher’s boon of the front room: great big windows looking out onto 18th Street. But long absences mean lots of catching up to do, so for us, the quiet and cozy back room served us well. A very sweet waitress then came over with menus, and expertly opened the bottle–something I usually try and do myself, which, admittedly, is rude. Sometimes it’s hard to relinquish control when you open bottles for a living, folks. I digress.
It took my dining partner and I a solid fifteen minutes to decide on what to choose. Upon recommendation of another friend, we chose to split the Tamal de Elote, a luscious, unwrapped tamale made with sweet, fresh corn. I ended up going with the Flor de Calabaza empanadas, filled with delicious squash blossoms and cuitlacoche, that disturbingly good edible infectious corn disease. I also got the Ensalada de Trucha Ahumada, a tasty mix of greens, smoked trout, and braised fennel. A perfect summer choice–light, tasty, and excellent with the wine we brought. My partner in gastro-crime was also excited about his braised oxtail gnocchi. Neither of us had room for anything more than some cinnamon-spiked coffee, but next time I’ll be sure to leave some room.
“Cocina mestiza” means mixed cuisine, and it’s fair to say that this little spot on 18th Street creatively and successfully blends Latin American and Mediterranean fare, all for prices that would make any Bucktown resident (take that, Lance!) wish they had also moved to Pilsen. Don’t worry, though: Mundial is a thirty second walk from the Pink Line, so you can visit whenever you like. Come hungry!
Mundial Cocina Mestiza
1640 W 18th St
Posted by Erin