Invite your entire family, your softball team and all your work buddies to the outdoor patio at Las Fuentes, and there will still be room for 200 new friends. The painting of a traditional arch and cobblestone street on the back wall will transport you into a colonial Mexican town (ignore the errant telephone poll leaning over the garden wall).
Drink a Las Fuentes margarita with 100 percent Blue Agave tequila ($9) and you won't want to leave the daydream. House margaritas of various tropical flavors are also available for $5 per 12-ounce glass, $15 for half a pitcher or $25 for the whole deal.
The Albarran family from Guerrero has served delicious pan-Mexican cuisine at this tasty restaurant near DePaul since 1980. It's authentic: The salsa is fresh and garden-like, not Tex-Mex spicy; the mole will encourage you to expand your spice rack; and the energy here is cien por ciento Latino.
Admire the traditional Aztec plates and flowerpots along the patio walls and let the Christmas lights put you in a holiday mood. Students, this is a great place to bring your parents. Cubs fans, a suitable spot to drown your sorrows. Private parties are held in the Pachanga Club, and the fiesta moves inside to the bar with hip-swaying music in the evening. Come on Saturdays for mariachi music. End your night with flan or cake of the day ($6 or $7), and, as always, order another margarita.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jacob Wheeler