Mystery Diner

Mystery Diner in St. Charles: Lupita’s Cocina offers flavorful twist on Mexican

Lupita's Cocina in St. Charles.

We stopped by Lupita’s Cocina before Cinco de Mayo for a relaxed meal at the restaurant in western St. Charles, near the intersection of La Fox Road and Route 64.

Our helpful server brought us chips and salsa, explained menu items, and noted that dishes are made fresh to order and prepared over charcoal for a flavorful twist on convention.

Chips and salsa at Lupita's Cocina in St. Charles.

Outdoor patio dining areas ring the corner restaurant, and a bright interior welcomes patrons for lunch and dinner. Two televisions were tuned to soccer action while we were there.

Queso con camarones at Lupita's Cocina in St. Charles.

We opened with an appetizer of melted Chihuahua and Monterrey cheeses as the bed for a quartet of shrimp and tidbits of pineapple, accompanied by tortillas.

The guacamole of the day was piña, or pineapple. And the margarita du jour featured watermelon. The restaurant notes the fresh-fruit margaritas are made from scratch, but we stuck with a Mexican dark beer.

Skirt steak at Lupita's Cocina in St. Charles.

My dining companion picked the Tampiqueña entree, featuring outer skirt steak, beans, queso panela, and a garnish of guacamole, with a luscious green sauce on the plate. The triangles of cheese were browned and tasty, and the whole dish was presented nicely.

“The charcoal grilling imparted a pleasant, smoky flavor to the filet, and worked well with the black beans and mild green sauce that I put into the fresh tortillas,” he said.

The recipe is from the northern Gulf town of Tampico, just one of the regions the website notes chef Roberto Barojas has mined for favorite dishes representing the country’s cuisine.

Pollo con Mole Negro at Lupita's Cocina in St. Charles.

I selected the Pollo en Mole Negro, starring grilled chicken breast with Oaxacan mole negro and garlic mashed potatoes.

The generous dish arrived with the charcoal-grilled chicken smothered in a delicious mole sauce, this variation light on heat and a little sweet, which was just perfect for my palate, something of a lightweight when it comes to the spiciness scale. The fresh tortillas sopped up every drop of the mole, the spice-filled, chocolate-infused Mexican classic.

The dessert list included mousse cake, fried ice cream, churros, doughnuts and the sweet of that day, flan. And for a different type of dessert, Lupita’s Cocina offers a chocolate tequila martini.

For our next visit, we’ll try the tacos, which are billed as handmade fusion tacos. The appetizers also tempt with shrimp empanadas for a pastry treat. Another is an homage to Mexican street corn, ezquite, with roasted sweet corn, lime, epazote, mayo, queso fresco and tajin seasoning. Rounding out the menu are salads, fajitas and enchiladas.

The restaurant is at the front of a business complex on the west side of La Fox Road, a little south of Route 64.

Lupita’s Cocina is well worth seeking out for its take on Mexican favorites.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Lupita’s Cocina

WHERE: 40W222 La Fox Road, St. Charles

PHONE: 630-377-0706

INFORMATION: lupitascocina.com