***** (5 stars)

From the outside, with its dark windows, this place looks like a questionable dive, but step inside and it’s a trendy, vibrant (i.e. loud) and wonderful restaurant.

The menu offers fewer than twenty dishes, but if what I sampled is any indication, there is plenty of variety, and a lot of amazing culinary skill behind it.

Yes, it’s Latin American influenced, but if I hadn’t been told that I’m not sure I would have guessed from the dishes I was served. I had an arugula, blue cheese and walnut salad that was superb. Then scallops on black rice that were equally superb; in fact, they were quite possibly the best scallops I’ve ever had.

They have positioned themselves as a tapas style sharing restaurant, but the servings are much larger than tapas, and two dishes was all I could manage, although I wanted to try more.

The beverage service is also noteworthy. I had a specialty margarita with a smoky character that was quite interesting, and then I tried the sangria. Wow. This was easily the best sangria I ever tasted. In addition to Burgundy, brandy, apple and berries, there was also “hum,” a botanical spirit that added an amazing complexity. It was so fantastic I found it online and sought out a place to buy a bottle on my way home (Binny’s on Dempster, if you want some).

Service was friendly and fast. The place was packed, but kitchen service was prompt and didn’t seem stressed at all.

The only downside is the noise level. On a Tuesday night there was no possibility of conversing with a tablemate in anything less than a shout. But if that doesn’t put you off, this is a truly impressive restaurant.

7931 Lincoln Ave
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 674-8100