Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Ritual: Fajitas & Family

As the third largest city in the United States, Chicago is no stranger to world-class museums, shopping malls, architecture, and most importantly restaurants. However, as a Chicago native I have found that restaurants off the beaten path and sans the celebrity chefs tend to be the best choice. I am not sure if your family has a favorite place to eat, you know the place you go for every birthday and holiday and any other excuse you have to dine out. Well my family does and this past weekend with my godson in tow, we ate at our favorite restaurant for the first time with four-generations of Blackburns!

Walking into Mario’s Tacos, a tiny authentic Mexican restaurant on Old Western Ave on Chicago’s far south side, is overwhelming in the best way possible. I know the menu by heart the staff by name, and that I am with my family (a.k.a. the people I love most in the world!) Mario’s became a staple in our family when I was about six and at twenty-one it shows no sign of fading. Society today is hard to keep up with because everyone seems to be busy 24/7, whether it is school or work, piano lessons or basketball practice—trust me it is always something. Finding time to spend with family seems to only get harder, thankfully our family found Mario’s a place we went to enjoy each others company and some bomb Mexican food.

In my family as my two sisters and I got older (and busier) it seemed like we hardly saw each other and Mario’s came to the rescue. For 4 years, our family (mom, dad, two-sisters, and grandma) went there every Sunday and the delicious house made chips, salsa, and guacamole never got old. In the winter the steaming and spicy Carne de Puerco covered in melted chihuahua cheese could warm you up better than any hot chocolate around. And in the summer there is no better place to enjoy the hot Chicago sun than on Mario’s patio while sipping a Gold Margarita on the rocks with salt and eating a fresh taco salad.

Maybe it seems like it was more about the company than the food, but to this very day Mario’s Tacos is my favorite Mexican restaurant; and trust me I have been to my fair share, factoring in that my family takes a yearly trip to Mexico. Regardless of whether it is the food or the people I would strongly suggest your family, or even a close group of friends, find a great restaurant where you know will always bring a smile to your face.