Best Bargain Oaxacan Cuisine - 2012
This charming restaurant's authentic, brawny street food tastes just as fine savored in the comfort of one's home. The squash blossom empanada — a slightly sweet, cheese-engorged half-moon expanse of corn — flops nearly over the edge of its Styrofoam to-go container. Fried grasshoppers come accented with lemon and chile. Fresh cheese and black beans soak into a tray of molotes, masa torpedos wrapped around chorizo and potato. A hefty, mayo-soaked sandwich of jerked beef, black beans, guacamole, salsa and lettuce goes by the handle "Torta Sexy." You'll find few richer, more soulful black moles in town — the collapsing whole pieces of chicken; the bitter, layered, tarlike sauce — but Expresion Oaxaqueña's charm is due not only to its authenticity but its glorious affordability. The mole costs $9 and comes in a vat big enough to drown in. With fantastic Oaxacan coffee and $4 specials like huevos ahogados, or "drowned eggs," breakfast (eaten in, naturally) is an added bonus. 3301 W. Pico Blvd., Arlington Heights. (323) 766-0575, facebook.com/pages/Expresion-Oaxaquena-Restaurante/102146766524942.