one of our favorite things about the wonderful city of chicago is the plethora of food. there’s plenty of everything, but thereal treasures here are the local places; those often unassuming little eateries, hiding in the nooks and crannies of the city, where artists of food create confections and treats of the sweet and savory variety. Chilam Balam is one of those places. A friend introduced the gem, which lies (almost) hidden on the garden level of a vintage brick building on Broadway in the Lakeview neighborhood.
the cash-only, BYOB spot serves up interestingly prepared tapas-style Mexican dishes, all made with a focus on local and sustainable food resources. we tried a variety of flavors (the beauty of tapas), including fresh guacamole that was served with deliciously crisp homemade tortilla chips. a favorite dish was the flank steak, tender meat in a mole-esque guajillo chile based sauce, served with warm corn tortillas. the prize of the meal for us sweets lovers was the final course, though. with an ever-changing seasonal menu, the masterminds at Chilam Balam presented a pumpkin dulce de leche dessert for the month that sounded too good to pass up. who wouldn’t love the heavenly richness of the traditional sweet milk soaked cake, paired with the warm spice of autumnal pumpkin? even more perfect was the delightful surprise of cinnamon ice cream that was paired with it.
the warm, cozy atmosphere has a bold bohemian vibe, rich with gold and red hued walls, oversized candlesticks and star lanterns, and a smattering of Mexican adornments; it was the perfect setting for a fabulous meal. it also turns out that Chilam Balam is owned by a Soraya Rendon, a very cool young female entrepreneur; always a bonus for us to see an inspiring success story like Soraya’s!