DINING: Tucked away in Dunaway's, a minimal Mexican lunchery

November 19, 2011

Most restaurant locations don’t need much explaining. Oh, sometimes there needs to be some detailed guidance on how to get there or how to translate a menu, but rarely is there a question of what exactly a restaurant is. And what it isn’t.

So let me start by making clear—as the staff does when you walk in—that even though Comida Tipica Mexicana (351 S. East St.) shares a parking lot, a kitchen and, most notably, an art deco dining area with the long-established Dunaway’s restaurant, it isn’t Dunaway’s. Call Dunaway’s at 638-7677 and you can get info about it, but you’ll be told clearly that Comida Tipica Mexicana isn’t Dunaway’s.

Did I mention that Comida Tipica Mexicana isn’t Dunaway’s?

Dining The chicken tacos are built with double corn tortillas and topped with cilantro and onion. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The lunch-only eatery, affiliated with the Mexican consulate—is the midday tenant here, offering a limited menu of traditional Mexican items served in Dunaway’s bar area. On the way in, you’ll be warned that it’s “just Mexican.” On the way out, you can buy Spanish-language candies and other treats off a table. Everything is cash-only.

And the food?

Well, we ordered everything on the menu, which isn’t such a feat when you realize there are only five items. Tamales ($2.50) arrived near liquefied in their corn husks. Tacos ($2) were doubly supported, each loosely packed in a pair of irregular corn tortillas sprinkled with cilantro. The Quesadillas ($5) benefited from a nice outer crunch from flour tortillas strong enough to contain the ample chicken filling. The Burrito ($5) may not have the tell-us-what-you-want-in-it quality that chain joints have us accustomed to, but there’s something to be said for trusting the kitchen. As for the Tortas ($5), the Mexican sandwich never showed up at our table (or, small blessing, on our bill).

All the menu items—except the mysteriously missing Tortas—were workmanlike, sincere, filling and authentic (to my limited experience) without any risk of being called gourmet. And the prices made even our over-loaded lunch seem cheap.•

—Lou Harry


Third in a month-long series of reviews of new ethnic eateries.


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