I always check out the interior pictures on Yelp before I visit a restaurant, because they tend to tell me more about the dining experience than almost anything, including sometimes event the menu. So I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Pescadero, because it is really much nicer than the Yelp photos (even my own) suggest. Rather than the Long John Silvers decor of the photos, it really is more restaurant-ish. And despite the concrete floor, they've added acoustic treatments to the ceiling, which really help with sound levels.
The menu offers a variety of cooked fish, from pan-seared to fish and chips, a ceviche that sounded tempting, and a few "from the land" items. And of course there are oysters. There are happy hour specials on the latter, along with tap beer.
But I went a different route and had the Mussels Frites. They were a traditional French preparation in a garlic broth. The serving sizes of both the mussels and the accompanying frites (French fries for you landlubbers) were very generous. The garlic broth for the mussels was simple, but good, and the mussels were tender and tasty. The frites were the right dimensions for traditional Parisian frites, but could have used a couple more minutes in the fryer.
The wines by the glass offer a nice variety. My Albarino was a perfect match.
For dessert I had the special Bananas Foster cheesecake, which had lots banana flavor and a nice graham cracker crust, and an espresso.
Service was friendly, and the restaurant, open only a couple of weeks, seems well managed.
Pescadero Seafood & Oyster Bar 1258 W Belmont Ave Chicago, IL 60657
Excellent food, boisterous atmosphere. Extensive outside seating would be quieter, if you're sure it won't rain, as they can't reseat you. Table seating is limited to 90 minutes. Half price cocktail and guacamole before 6pm.
Now that the rules are out of the way, the food is quite tasty. Guacamole was better than the Queso Fundido, which didn't have enough chorizo.
Snapper ceviche bites and firecracker shrimp were both great. Cordon Bleu Quesadilla was so unexpected, it ended up being my favorite, even though it wasn't remotely Mexican food: ham, chicken and cheese, with a honey mustard dipping sauce!
Tuna Poke Tacos and Korean Short Rib tacos were also excellent.
Churro Empanadas needed something like ice cream or a spicy sauce to offset the cloying sweetness.
Service was very responsive, and the kitchen and bar are fast.
Barcocina – Chicago 2901 N Sheffield Ave Chicago, IL 60657
This is the real deal! Bread, croissants, and pain au chocolat exactly as you would get them in Paris! Even the slowness of the service is authentic!
Nice inside, but also an excellent sidewalk dining area. Order at the counter, they bring it out.
The French Breakfast is a great way to go, as you get two eggs, any style, plus a bakery assortment of bread, croissant, and pain au chocolat, five in all. Probably enough for two to share if one of them isn't me!
Maison Marcel 3114 N Broadway St Chicago, IL 60657
This is one of my favorite Chicago restaurant interior designs. It's spacious, elegant without being stuffy, not too brightly lit, not too noisy, and all around simply comforting and welcoming.
We tried several cocktails, and all were very nicely done. My favorite was the Rosemary Gimlet. It was terrific with the Mushroom Toast.
The food is top notch, with most items designed for sharing. We adored the mustard that came on the cheese plate and even asked for a to-go container of it! It was also fantastic on the scrumptious mushroom toast.
Confit Potatoes and Crispy Brussels sprouts were also both delicious. Spagettone Carbonara was cooked too far past al dente for my taste, and lacked the usual carbonara ingredients behond the speck.
We didn't make it to any meat or fish course, but we did try both the desserts, and loved the ice cream and chocolate sauce in the Profiteroles. The Pink Squirrel and Brandy Alexander were also two good ice cream based dessert beverages.
The wine list is eclectic, and well-chosen to match the food.