Amelia’s Mestizo Grill sits at a cultural vantage point. It is located in Canaryville, a traditionally Irish Catholic neighborhood that now features a substantial Mexican community. Immediately south is the predominantly African-American Englewood; to the west is heavily Mexican-American Back of the Yards. Amelia’s, offering fine dining from Central Southern Mexico with Italian influences, has embraced the diversity surrounding it with its own unique style of cuisine.
In fact, this unique style is immediately apparent upon stepping through the door. The walls are painted lime green, the floors are artfully designed with mosaics, and authentic Mexican music plays in the background. A small tiled roof hangs over the bar, and sunlight filters through the bright orange curtains that hang from the large windows. You are no longer in the South Side; you are relaxing on a patio in Guadalajara. The customers on a Saturday night were mostly over forty or families with kids, and the room filled quickly.
Our meal began with Amelia’s signature Calamari Frito and an order of guacamole. The calamari was cooked perfectly–not too chewy–and the cilantro lime aioli sauce complemented its crispiness, creating a unique and delicious appetizer. The guacamole, accompanied by tortilla chips, was simpler but no less tasty. It came mixed with diced jalapeno for a smooth and spicy kick.
Mexican-Italian fusion, though unexpected, is delicious. I chose the day’s special, a goat cheese ravioli. The pasta, mixed with Mexican spices and nuts, was a completely new taste for me. As someone who doesn’t typically go for Mexican food, I nevertheless enjoyed the balance presented by the two very different cuisines. My friend had one of the more traditional Mexican dishes, the Quesadilla de Camaron. It was served on a homemade tortilla with cheese, mushrooms, shrimp, and an avocado salsa with jalapenos. She called the dish an incredibly tasty blend of flavors. Both meals were pieces of art, cooked to perfection and handled with care.
For dessert we had Crepas Locas: thin crepes filled with caramelized bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and peanuts, then topped with cinnamon ice cream. Each bite was somehow sweeter and better than the one before.
In total we paid almost sixty dollars for two people before tip. This is may seem like a lot of money, but we left absolutely stuffed and absolutely satisfied. With its fine fusion cuisine, Amelia’s could fit in easily in the Loop. If it were there, they could get away with charging a lot more.
Amelia’s Mestizo Grill, 4559 S. Halsted St. Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, 10am-10pm; Sunday, 10am-9pm. BYOB but with a fully stocked bar. (773)538-8200. ameliaschicago.com