Con Todo brings pamburguesa and an all-Mexican wine list to Logan Square – Chicago Tribune

I’ve eaten hundreds of burgers over the past six years, but I’ve never come across anything quite like the pamburguesa at Con Todo Cantina y Cocina in Logan Square.

From a few feet away you would have no idea it was a burger. Instead, the dish resembles a pambazo, a traditional Mexican sandwich coated in a dark red chili salsa and grilled in a skillet with oil, searing the salsa to the crust.

Yet look between the slices of bread and you’ll find a burger that bears striking similarities to a certain signature dish from a Chicago-headquartered fast food empire. You won’t see any lettuce or sesame seeds, but you will find two beef patties, a sauce called a special salsa, American cheese, pickles, and sliced ​​white onions. Bite down and you’ll notice the crispiness of the bread, as well as a hint of heat. Then you’ll encounter the juicy, savory middle, punctuated with crunchy onions and pickles, and a tangy, creamy sauce. In other words, imagine if a Big Mac vacationed in Mexico and ended up loving it so much that he stayed there.

La pamburguesa pretty much sums up Con Todo. It’s a kitchen that’s not afraid to take the time to do it the hard way – making corn tortillas from scratch, cooking al pastor over charcoal – but also has no no longer afraid to put aside the traditional for what seems the most exciting.

Most of the menu was designed by Jonathan Zaragoza, one of Chicago’s most promising young chefs. He grew up helping in his father’s restaurant on the southwest side, Birrieria Zaragoza, where the art of roasting goats is taken as seriously as any place I know. But Zaragoza also spent time in various kitchens around the city and checked out restaurants around the world.

Zaragoza is expected to offer his consultancy services to Gordon Ramsay. When I reviewed Gordon Ramsay Burger I mentioned how greasy and bland the elote dip was. But at Con Todo, the entree is puffed up with mashed sweet corn, so each bite remains creamy, but tastes lighter and has more corn flavor. Even better is the silky smooth rendition of sikil p’ak, a blend of pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and habanero from Yucatán.

But while Zaragoza drew up the menu and was the focal point for most of Con Todo’s press before it opened, he just announced last month that he was no longer involved with the restaurant. I thought something was wrong after telling him about this review, as Zaragoza was clear that he planned to be less involved. “(Con Todo) needed help with the culinary side, and I had the time,” Zaragoza said. “I have another project in sight.”

While Con Todo isn’t the first restaurant to go this route, part of me worries that we won’t see more restaurants follow suit and hire a famous name to create a menu and create buzz, before it does. leave after a few months. It may be lucrative for the chef in question, but without constant involvement, can we expect great things from this type of arrangement? I have my doubts.

So the worst thing I can say about Con Todo is that it’s not the ambitious Zaragoza project that some of us were hoping for. But with Zaragoza out, it’s also easier to see that Con Todo is aiming for something different. Essentially, Con Todo is like a polished version of Big Star: a great place to enjoy a few tacos and cocktails, but with a bright Mexico City vibe instead of chaotic whiskey-soaked honky-tonk.

The owners, brothers JC and Edgar Castañeda, certainly have Mexican restaurant experience to spare. Both grew up in their family’s Mexican restaurant, Lalo’s, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. Edgar later helped run Zocolo and Taco Joint, while JC spent years working as a bartender for the Boka Restaurant Group. (J. Parker, Momotaro, Cabra) and Italian RPM.

For Con Todo, which means “with everything” in Spanish, JC and Edgar scoured Mexico City for inspiration. “We wanted to bring the philosophy of Mexico City taquerias to this restaurant,” JC said. That includes small details, like serving tacos on the same colorful plastic plates that are common around town.

The star of the taco lineup is al pastor, made by marinating slices of pork, piling them on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo, then grilling them until the pork is crispy. Unlike most places in town, Con Todo cooks the meat with charcoal instead of gas. This means that every bite has an intoxicating aroma of smoke that lingers in the background. Topped with a generous splash of salsa verde, it’s a great way to start any meal.

The sweet potato soups may seem like a consolation for the vegetarian crowd, but the masa base is golden and crunchy, while the tender roasted sweet potatoes are balanced by salsa macha – a mixture of chili, nuts and oil that is becoming more and more popular in the city.

Con Todo also serves a few heartier dishes, including a very good roadside chicken from Sinaloa. Rubbed with an adobo chili mixture and then grilled, the half chicken is incredibly juicy and moderately spicy. It’s also a lot of food for $24, especially since it comes with pickled vegetables, salsa, and freshly made corn tortillas.

Dessert is limited to pineapple upside-down cake, which gets a boost of flavor from grilled pineapple and what’s called cinnamon brulee whipped cream.

The cocktails manage to be both accessible and fascinating. I particularly liked the Piña, which combines Uruapan Charanda rum with fresh pineapple, lime and orgeat, an almond-flavored syrup. I also admired the Jamaica, which mixes smoky mezcal, tangy ginger beer and a dark red tea made from hibiscus flowers, water and sugar.

It’s also exciting to see an all-Mexican wine list. It might surprise some that Mexico has been producing fine wine for hundreds of years in the state of Baja California. “Representation is really important,” said JC Castañeda. “It is simply very difficult to source Mexican wine from major wine distributors. But they are there if you look hard enough. If you’re not sure where to start, try the 2019 Acrata Tinta Del Valle from Guadalupe Valley, a crisp red wine made mostly from Grenache.

Similarly, the beer is either made in Mexico or by Mexican Americans in Chicago. This includes some offerings from Casa Humilde, an up-and-coming local brewery run by another group of brothers, Javier and Jose Lopez. “They are fantastic brewers and they couldn’t be nicer,” said JC Castañeda.

Zaragoza may no longer be involved, but as long as the Castañeda brothers keep the quality as high as it is now, settling for an exciting taqueria with great cocktails, intriguing Mexican wine and tacos al top notch pastor is more than a consolation prize.

nkindelsperger@chicagotribune.com

2853 N. Kedzie Ave.

773-681-0674

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Note from the podium: Between good and very good

To open: Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers, $5 to $20; main dish, $15 to $24

Noise: friendly chat

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible, bathrooms on the first floor

Edward K. Thompson