Dining Out 1 minute 08 November 2017

Behind the Bib: Mi Tocaya

A look at Diana Dávila's Mexican restaurant in Logan Square.

Chicago Mexican cuisine Bib Gourmand

Diana Dávila, a Chicago native, has received lots of recognition for the eight-month-old Mi Tocaya. From being named one of America's Essential Restaurants by Eater to being recognized as one of Bon Appetit's 50 Best Restaurants to, most recently, receiving the Bib Gourmand designation from the MICHELIN Guide, Dávila's cooking is a force to be reckoned with.

As stated on the restaurant's website, "Mi Tocaya, or 'my namesake' in Spanish, is commonly used as a term of endearment when someone has the same name as oneself." Michelin inspectors say that it "is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Logan Square food scene" where "you'll no doubt leave with a newfound love for Mexican cuisine."

Dávila got her start at her family's restaurant, Hacienda Jalapeños, located in the nearby suburb of Oak Forest. She started out as a dishwasher and cashier before taking over as the executive chef in her early 20's. Later, Dávila enrolled in culinary school in Oaxaca before stints in other kitchens stateside.

Mi Tocaya's menu features plates in various sizes offering an array of dishes influenced by Dávila's Mexican heritage—her takes on traditional favorites, representations of more obscure specialties, and her own original creations. Boasting one of the largest populations of Mexican people in the country, Dávila is able to source many of the traditional ingredients she uses locally.

One of the dishes receiving much of the press's attention is the peanut butter y lengua—Dávila's riff on lengua con salsa de cacahuate that reminds the chef of her uncle. It features braised beef tongue with a thick peanut salsa and radishes. On Sundays, the menu shifts to a selection of antojitos (snacks) and entrées served family-style, including caldo de res, fried chicken and churros, and cochinita pibil. Caldo de res is a traditional Mexican beef soup, with Dávila's version featuring short ribs and bone marrow.

Peanut Butter y Lengua.
Peanut Butter y Lengua.

There's a wide selection of beverages available, including seasonal drinks, wine, beer, cocktails on tap, and a nitro horchata. The dessert menu is limited to just two options: flan de queso or an outsourced tres leches cake.

All of this is served in a colorful space that Michelin inspectors deem "a lively, charming ambience [with] friendly, knowledgeable service."

All images courtesy of Mi Tocaya. (Photo Credit: Jude Goergen.)

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