Hot Tamales Mexican Restaurant
"If it's possible to be funky and a Mexican
restaurant, that's what Hot Tamales is all about. There is a sense of humor in the
sprightly decor with its use of bold color and stylized designs. Service leans
toward the informal without pretension.
The dining can be rather serious, at least
when it comes to preparation and presentation. There is no fooling around with
principles of good cooking. Just taste a platter of quesadillas with goat cheese and
mushrooms to get a sense of
what is going on here. This is not the traditional enchiladas, burritos and
restaurant. Those Mexican staples are on the menu, but treated more like
gourmet dining than so-called "border food". Take the namesake tamales
for example. They can be ordered with a chicken and raisin chorizo sausage, pumpkin
or seafood filling. The pumpkin filling has the expected taste. But when
garnished with a hot salsa verde, sour cream and molé, all wrapped around a corn husk on
which rests the tarnale, it
is evident that this is not basic taqueria cooking. Tacos, meantime can be
stuffed with a delicious rendering of duck in one version, meat sliced
from a leg of pork in another, chicken in yet another creation, or vegetarian
The imaginative menu makes wonderful use of
fresh vegetables. Roast corn chowder is made from a chicken stock finished with
cream, endowed with kernels of corn, larger pieces of smoky ham, and slivers of hot
peppers just to remind you that this is not your basic Massachusetts corn chowder.
Diners could make a meal by ordering a
of the smaller appetizer dishes, ranging from spinach and cheese chimichanga to
stylized Mexican pizza topped with chicken, black beans, green olives and sour cream.
A recent fish of the day, tuna, came grilled with chayote, a Mexican squash with
the pale color and crisp feel of
jicama or turnip, but a flavor that hints of lemon. A garnish of freshly
grilled vegetables completed the platter. Among other selections, grilled Cornish
hen is surrounded by grilled vegetables; the hens were completed with a reddish, orange
achiote sauce, its flavor ever so delicate and mild.
Combination meals might bring together a
large burrito stuffed with chicken, salsa and refried beans, lavished with a melted cheese
topping. Among other offerings is delicious grilled tilapia,
a mild Pacific fish bathed in a trio of chile
sauces, plated with Spanish rice, asparagus and broccoli. Other fish choices
will vary depending upon market availabilities, not to mention the predilections of the
- North Shore Magazine-
"...The Best Mexican/Latin American category. The winner, making its first
appearance in our Reader's Choice survey, was Hot Tamales... Owner Jimmy Wygonski (Jimmy
Wygonski?) describes the cuisine as "North Shore Mexican. We keep it real
fresh. We wing it with new
dishes. We add some flair, but without overdoing it." Over the
last six years, he says, Hot Tamales has developed a strong following.
"There are nights of
the week I come in here and know what day of the week it is by
who's eating here," he says."
North Shore Magazine
Customers will think they're in Mexico when
dining at a new Lake County restaurant.
"You'll forget you're in Illinois at
Hot Tamales," said co-owner Jim Wygonski. He boasts that the restaurant, at 700
S. Butterfield Road in Mundelein, serves "North Shore Mexican food."
This style of dining is not new to
Wygonski. He's also the owner of the eatery with the same name in Highland Park.
"It's not traditional Mexican,"
Wygonski explains. Fajitas, barbecue chicken enchiladas, grilled blackened tilapia
with grilled vegetables and a variety of appetizers are favorites on the menu.... .
The cost of dinner ranges from $7 to $14.
Chef Sandoval of Libertyville prepares the Mexican food at the restaurant that seats 115
inside and 50 on an outdoor patio.... .
"We were voted by North Shore Magazine
as No. 1 Mexican on the North Shore," Wygonski said.
Our Lunch Menu
Our Dinner Menu
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm, Sat 11:30-2:30
Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5-9:30 pm,
Fri-Sat 5-10:30 pm
Sun 5-9:00 pm
Outdoor PatioLocated in Butterfield Plaza between Route 60
Is there life in the Mexican cuisine business
between a Taco Bell anywhere and the authentic south-of-the-border specialties at a place
like Ofelia's in Waukegan?
Jimmy Wygonski thinks there is. He
takes the already healthy main ingredients of traditional Mexican food - grains,
vegetables and fruits - and plays them around meat, poultry and fish with a twist.
There's no deep frying, thus eliminating a good deal of the fat content of the dishes.... .