Flavor in Color: DeColores updates Mexican with an artsy twist

(Sam Bowman)

In its combination of Mexican family recipes and a focus on freshness and new styles, DeColores Galeria y Sabores marries the two sides of Pilsen. The restaurant occupies two stories with complementing characters: a brightly lit, livelier first floor and a quieter second floor with softer lighting. Since DeColores doubles as a gallery, it is no surprise that the whole interior is very tastefully decorated. Earth-colored walls, modestly elegant furniture, and some fine details like the woodwork along the stairway all add to the comfortable, yet classy atmosphere. Talented local artists, of whom there are many, provide the artwork for DeColores’s gallery endeavor. If any should catch your eye, they’re all available for sale. Also for sale are posters of a Mexican take on Rosie the Riveter that are displayed on both floors; a woman in a white blouse declaring, “¡Sí se puede!”

Our waiter apologized in advance for being short-staffed that night due to a family emergency, yet service remained consistently attentive the whole evening. Naturally, the waiter served chips and salsa upon seating us. The chips were fresh but a bit too salty, even for a salt lover like me. The slightly cheesy and piquant salsa made for a unique and wonderful salsa roja. The menu is neither limited nor extensive, and the same can be said of the range of vegetarian options. It’s worth pointing out that everything at DeColores is fresh. This presents you with the opportunity to order some of the best agua de fresca out there. Perfectly sweet and tart, the tamarind agua de fresca is highly recommended. For an appetizer, we went for the taquitos de papa, the fried potato miniature tacos. The sugar beet and chayote topping provides a great balance to the greasiness (in a good way) of the taquito.

The subtleness of the citrusy tilapia ceviche can become a bit tedious as an entrée, so it’s probably best ordered as an appetizer. Although a bit soggier than I would like, the chiles rellenos had a good level of heat and didn’t overwhelm with cheese. The flautas de queso were excellent and ample, but very similar to the taquitos we’d just eaten. While the vegetable burrito was indeed hearty, it unfortunately lacked flavor. We also agreed that sundried tomatoes have no place in such a burrito. The star of the menu is undoubtedly the enchiladas de mole. There are certainly no overly creative ingredients in this dish. just perfectly tender chicken, corn tortillas, and one incredible mole sauce. Sweeter than usual and boldly spiced, cocoa leads the long list of flavors that contribute to this mole. It certainly warrants a return visit. If you’re up for dessert, the tres leches cake is provided by the outstanding Kristoffer’s Bakery down the street.
DeColores, 1626 S. Halsted St. Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-midnight. (312)226-9886.

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