Like a good little mole fanatic, I’ve swooned over Mexican sauces all over this city. I’ve waxed poetically about the complexity of the mole verde at Frontera and been put into a blissful state of shock by Fonda del Mar’s mole negro. It’s rare for me to find a Chicago mole I don’t like.
Turns out there’s an explanation for this: Most of the mole I’ve been eating has been made by the same person. Chef Raul Arreola has put in time at Topolobampo, Fonda del Mar and several other Mexican joints. Now he’s at it again at Mixteco, and his moles are, not surprisingly, the epicenter of the restaurant’s offerings. This is not to say that the cochinita pibil isn’t great, too—it’s cooked to a soft, sumptuous consistency. And this is nothing against the fish tacos, which provide that craveable contrast of flaky fish, rich mayo and crisp, shredded cabbage.
But the moles here can stop your heart. The otherwise run-of-the-mill sopes are elevated to showstopping status by a dose of the brooding, smoky mole rojo, and the white fish gets treated with a lighter, sprightly mole verde. And while its not a mole, the smooth poblano sauce pooled around plump, smoky, perfectly grilled shrimp is so lappable, we almost don’t need the seafood. In fact, good as they are, we don’t need any of the proteins here. All we need is some mole, a bowl to put it in, and some of Mixteco’s handmade tortillas to sop it all up.