In Mexican Spanish slang, “no manches” has several meanings.
One of those translates to English as the pleased exclamation “Shut up!”
That exact phrase may have come out of my mouth when I had my first bite of the specialty tacos from No Manches! Mexican Grill in Carpentersville.
Former co-workers and I had been trying to put together a night out to try this newer restaurant on Route 31 just north of Spring Hill Mall for a few months. We finally got together there in August. It was a first time for me, but my dinner companion and her family have eaten there and ordered take out several times since it opened in 2021.
We started out with the chips and three varieties of salsa. There were options for all of the taste buds. The drinks were a revelation, and we happened to be there on a Thursday – margarita specials night. The freshness of the dragon fruit and lime in my drink really came through.
For appetizers, we ordered the empanadas. Three options are on the menu: picadillo (ground beef, $10), tinga (shredded chicken, $10) and shrimp ($11). Because of demand, the kitchen does not allow mixing meats on just one order. We had the chicken, and the empanadas were amazing. This dough had not seen the inside of a freezer. The crust melted in our mouths, as did the chicken.
Next came our entrees. Again, there was a lot of “shut up!” as we dove into the main courses.
While I am usually all about the burrito at a Mexican restaurant, I went with the specialty tacos: one each of the skirt steak, chicken and rib-eye ($4.50 each). I couldn’t decide on flour or corn tortillas, so I asked our server to surprise me. The kitchen accommodated me: two came on corn and one on flour.
My dinner companion had the chicken tamales ($16), a dish she’s ordered here before. Again, the chicken was juicy and the flavors perfect.
One of my favorite things, and a reason I often go with a taco salad, is because of the deep-fried shell. Happily, I didn’t miss out by choosing tacos. The refried beans are served in a petite, deep-fried taco shell. Too cute and very tasty. For my tacos, the beans and rice addition was a $3.50 upcharge. Both came with the chicken tamales.
On the website, the head chef and owners promise the freshest ingredients in their family recipes. The bright flavors of the food, from the fruit in our drinks to the coffee I had at the end of our dinner, really came through.
Overall, No Manches! includes many of the traditional Mexican foods we have come to expect, from burritos to chimichangas. The differences here are the flavors and freshness of each dish.
We considered dessert to cap off the night, but hadn’t left room. We are planning to go again.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: No Manches! Mexican Grill
WHERE: 140 N. Western Ave. (Route 31), Carpentersville