mitad del mundo

Karaoke on Saturdays: I hope the owner isn't the only one singing...

Karaoke on the weekends: I hope the owner isn’t the only one singing…

You ever pass by a restaurant over and over that looks intriguing to you? Maybe one that’s always empty and you ask your self why? Well, for the past year and half, I’ve been passing Mitad del Mundo daily: on my way to work, walking the dog, going to Tasty Freeze, whatever. I’ve passed by a thousand times, and it’s always empty. I wonder why.

A few months ago, I went by and took a look at the menu on the outside. The menu looked a little fancy pantsy, but it had catfish tacos on it. I had to try them. So, the other day, I rounded up a motley crew and headed on down.

According to my friend Google, the name means “center of the world” and is a tribute to an area of Ecuador. The restaurant specializes in Ecuadorian cuisine, with a mix of Mexican. We were there for the Mexican.

To nobody’s amazement, we were the only patrons there. Other than the cooks and our server, the only other person there was the owner. He sat at the bar bellowing out lyrics to the Latin music in the background.

Usually, on my reviews, I start with the good stuff, and then end with my expert criticisms on areas of improvement. For Mitad del Mundo, we’ll start with the negativos, and I’m not talking about the Spanish rock group…

Ok, first, the menu on the outside of the restaurant does not match the menu they give you. Our server said he doesn’t think they have ever served catfish tacos. He seemed puzzled why I was even asking.

Second, this is the type of place where you can’t mix and match your tacos. You order your meat and it comes on a plate with some beans, guacamole and tortillas. They said you can make about 4 or 5 tacos out of each order. They’re correct, if you put about a tablespoon of meat on each taco. Otherwise, it’s enough for 3 small tacos. Also, the tacos are pretty expensive, especially considering the small amount of meat that comes with an order.

I am still be willing to overlook all of that IF the tacos are delicious… BUT, they aren’t.

I tried the skirt steak, the duck breast, and the tilapia. The skirt steak is the best, in my opinion. The meat is cooked well and is the only think I ate with any seasoning. It also has a nice grilled flavor. Not too bad.

Everything else is very bland. The duck breast is texturally appealing and juicy, but lacks any flavor. The tilapia is also cooked well. But, tilapia is basically flavor-less by itself. It takes on the flavors of whatever you put on it or cook with it. Unfortunately, they don’t season it, and it ends up tasting like a cloth napkin. Even the beans and guacamole need something added, at least some salt.

Ok, now for the good stuff. Um…..oh, we did talk the server into giving us a special on our beers. So, maybe you can barter here and there and save on your bill?

The best part of the trip was finally answering my question. I now know exactly why this place is always empty. But now I have a new question. How in the hell is this place staying open?



Better luck next time?

  • Location:  2833 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL (Logan Square)
  • Tourists:  Josh, Julia, Glen, Nikki, David (?)
  • Tacos sampled:   skirt steak, duck breast, tilapia (also have chicken)
  • Toppings:  grilled onions and peppers, guacamole
  • Salsa:  salsa verde
  • Extras:  none
  • Tortillas:  corn (freshly made)
  • Atmosphere:  empty, quiet, musica latina, lonely, no reservations needed
  • Price:  $13.50-$14.50/plate of tacos
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