One thing I love about Chicago is its growing number of vegan-friendly restaurants. Many normally offer plant-based dishes but you have to ask questions before you know what is “safe” (i.e. are the beans cooked in lard, are the vegetables cooked in butter). El Nuevo Mexicano, however, clearly marks vegan items on their menu. This family-owned restaurant is proud of the fact that they cater to people with differing diets. While not a 100% vegan establishment, El Nuevo Mexicano is taking strong steps in the right direction and I am happy to support them. Offering both Daiya vegan cheese and Chicago’s own Upton’s Naturals seitan, this restaurant is progressive and supports local business.
My friends and I began our meal with chips, guacamole and salsa. What meal at a Mexican restaurant is complete without these appetizers? Now I’m no expert on Hispanic cuisine, but I do know what I like. I felt the guacamole was a little heavy on the lime but other than that it was good (perhaps I’m biased because of my guacamole). I could tell it was freshly-made which is always appreciated. The salsa also had a nice, fresh flavor with just enough kick. I can’t handle a lot of spice (I know, I’m a wuss) so I really enjoyed it.
For my entree, I chose the Fajitas de Proteina Vegano (Vegan protein fajitas). They consisted of vegan chicken strips, green and red bell peppers, garlic, onion and tomato, and were served with both corn and flour tortillas. It’s nice to have a choice between the two tortilla types if you’re not big on white flour. Though I was hoping for a little more flavor, I enjoyed the fajitas, especially because they weren’t spicy! The menu mentioned, however, that the fajitas would be served with pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and quinoa, but instead they came with beans, rice and guacamole. Perhaps El Nuevo didn’t have vegan sour cream? I’m not sure why I didn’t receive pico de gallo or quinoa though. Regardless, I enjoyed what I received, and the rice was especially tasty as it was prepared with carrots and peas and just enough salt to make it pleasing to the palate.
My friends had the Enchiladas de Chorizo, Papa y Zanahoria en Salsa Tomatillo (Enchiladas with vegan chorizo, potato and carrots) and Flautas de Verduras con Papa y Chorizo Vegano (Flautas with potato and vegan chorizo). Both were enjoyed and had no lack of spice. If you are one who likes a bit of kick to your food, you will definitely find it at El Nuevo. Having had the Flautas on a previous visit, I know by experience as my tongue was on fire! El Nuevo Mexicano is clearly creative with their dishes, as they provide food that you wouldn’t find on your typical Mexican restaurant’s menu (i.e. plantains and sweet potatoes).
Too full to indulge in dessert, we settled on just dinner and drinks. To wash it all down we enjoyed some sangria. Any red sangria I’ve previously had has been heavy on the dry wine flavor with just an accent of fruitiness. This sangria, however, was lightly sweet with just enough alcohol to do the job. I found it rather refreshing and it didn’t take long for the sangria to disappear! Garnished with fresh orange slices, this sangria gets a thumbs up from me!
I recommend El Nuevo Mexicano to anyone who wants to try fresh, eclectic Mexican fare. Whether you are anti- or pro-spicy, El Nuevo is sure to have options that you will enjoy. Not to mention the waitstaff are very friendly and accommodating.
NOTE: Vegan Food Addict is in no way affiliated with El Nuevo Mexicano. The views and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect that of others.