We went to Chicago over the weekend for an AAW show (see video below for a recap), but one of the highlights, if not THE highlight of the trip was an impromptu lunch at a vegetarian Mexican restaurant.
Quesadilla La Reina del Sur entered our timeline when we needed it most; we had been shopping for a few hours and needed a quick, light meal since we had plans on eating a larger meal in a few hours. Those plans ended up falling through, but it was for the better since the food at La Reina was very filling and kept us satisfied until later in the night.
The restaurant is located on a seemingly quiet street corner, tucked in next to a few other Mexican eateries, a neon shop (insert an “it’s lit” joke), and neighboring a residential area. The inside is small with a handful of tables and a service counter. We sat near the door where an array of plants provided a pleasant background for my meal.
A server quickly greeted us and brought menus, water, and tortilla chips with three salsas. I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food, so I stuck with the milder green salsa and picked around the jalapeño seeds in another salsa that looked like a spicier pico de gallo. Both were excellent, and were also great toppings for our food that arrived a little bit later.
The menu is extensive and I was pleased to see many vegan options, including the option to opt for vegan cheese. I decided on their tamales, one made with green salsa and soy chicken, and the other (Tomales Oaxaqueños) was wrapped on banana leaf peel with red salsa and soy chicken. Vince chose the Ranchera Torta, which had soy-based steak, peppers, onions, and jalapeños, served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and avocado.
The food arrived quickly and we were blown away, which is not an overstatement by any means. The soy-based meats were delectable and one of the best meat alternatives I’ve had since switching to a plant-based diet.
My tamales were piping hot, but I was willing to damage the roof of my mouth in the name of eating them. The tamale wrapped in a banana leaf said it had red salsa, but it almost seemed more like a mole sauce in its appearance and flavor. It was phenomenal, and the tamale with green salsa was just as good.
Vince’s sandwich … I eagerly await the day when I can have that sandwich again. I have no idea how they prepared the soy steak but again, it’s some of the best I’ve ever had and paired perfectly with the vegetables, finished with avocado that was slightly mashed but still chunky. The combination of flavors was unbeatable. I want that sandwich again so damn bad!
It was great to eat Mexican food without relying on beans as the main part of the meal, and the menu had so many exciting options (including juices and smoothies, which I didn’t even notice while we were there but now I see on their online menu). I can’t wait to go back some day to fully indulge.
Go to Quesadilla La Reina del Sur when you are in Chicago. You won’t regret it!
Recap of the show we went to later that day: