Fuego Loco Cantina

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At a restaurant with a name that translates to “crazy fire,” there’s an all-out effort to have the purest of extinguishers on hand. The manager at Fuego Loco estimates his crews squeeze six cases of limes a week for the Mexican restaurant’s Texas-sized margaritas. All the lemonade comes from freshly squeezed stock, too. 

So citrus quenchers come with and without tequila for the chips and salsa brought to every table. And at a place with Salseria also in its name, salsa — five kinds, varyingly chunky and hot — comes aplenty for chips that themselves are notable: housemade, deep-fried. 

All these standouts in drinks and starters spice up a family-friendly menu of Mexican basics: carne asada, chile rellenos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, tostadas, fajitas, tacos — and some specialties, too: jalapeño shrimp, chicken de arbol and shrimp de arbol. Kids 12 and younger not only get their own mini servings of quesadillas, tacos and nachos, they dine at no charge on Mondays. Every day, kids get toy lizards.

The finishes at Fuego Loco are as sweet, maybe sweeter, than the starters. A dessert called Mexican Ice Cream Sandwich is no bar-size treat; it’s a plateful, a fancy plateful. On the same scale is a dessert version of nachos: chocolate nachos.

All the fun of this Lake Street restaurant — the tart margaritas, the pulpy lemonade, the spicy chicken and shrimp, the rich chips with the richer salsa, the plates full of sweets — echoes in another Fuego Loco in Elmhurst and in Salseria Grill & Cantina at the Sears Tower, where the grill has what other dining spots there don’t have: a second-floor outdoor deck and bar. But like Flat Top Grill, its neighbor on Lake Street, the first Fuego Loco opened in Oak Park. The three locations in the Fuego Loco mini chain are the table service outposts of Taco Fresco, a local group of counter-service restaurants: five in downtown Chicago, seven in the western suburbs and one in Indiana.

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