Lombard's Casa Real gives Mexican fare the royal treatment

  • Casa Real's pollo con mole comes with rice, beans and fried plantains.

      Casa Real's pollo con mole comes with rice, beans and fried plantains. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • The San Miguel enchiladas come stuffed with chicken, chorizo and potato at Casa Real in Lombard.

      The San Miguel enchiladas come stuffed with chicken, chorizo and potato at Casa Real in Lombard. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Casa Real's chicken chipotle features grilled chicken, black beans and white rice in a flour tortilla. It comes topped with crema fresca, mango pico and a chipotle cheese sauce.

      Casa Real's chicken chipotle features grilled chicken, black beans and white rice in a flour tortilla. It comes topped with crema fresca, mango pico and a chipotle cheese sauce. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Bursts of red and Mexican artwork catch the eye at Casa Real in Lombard.

      Bursts of red and Mexican artwork catch the eye at Casa Real in Lombard. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Bursts of red and Mexican artwork catch the eye at Casa Real in Lombard.

      Bursts of red and Mexican artwork catch the eye at Casa Real in Lombard. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
By Thomas Witom
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/7/2015 1:53 PM

Casa Real loosely translates to "House of Royalty," but the feel is anything but formal. This casual new Mexican eatery, perched on the periphery of Lombard's High Point Shopping Center, rolls out the welcome mat to everyone with a hunger for reasonably priced, well-made cooking.

The 148-seat space is the newest location for the family-owned Casa Real in Springfield, which has catered to downstate diners since late 2011.

 

The suburban outpost, whose previous tenant was a casual steakhouse and seafood chain, occupies a handsomely remodeled space. Red seats catch the eye as do wrought-iron accents and artwork imported from Mexico.

The menu, similar at both outlets, offers a broad selection covering Mexican classics prepared with flair. Options include fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas and quesadillas, as well as several steak and seafood dishes. A handful of beers, including Dos Equis, are available on tap from the full-service bar, which also dispenses several tequila varieties. House margaritas were half price when I visited on a recent Monday night.

Tuck into a few of the still-warm tortilla chips and you could easily start dinner with such popular appetizers as shrimp and lobster seviche, seared tuna tostadas or queso fundido, a meal in itself featuring melted cheese with chorizo, roasted peppers and onions. Also available was a new house dish, OMG Nachos: tortilla chips in a mix of chicken, chorizo and smoked bacon, topped with refried beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and pickled jalapeños.

I cast my vote for the guacamole, which was freshly prepared tableside by an adept member of the staff who obligingly asked about ingredient likes and dislikes and the preferred level of spiciness. Each ingredient -- avocado, jalapeño, tomato, onion, lime, salt and cilantro -- made a bold statement in this flavorful appetizer.

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Settling on a main course proved a little more difficult, because Casa Real has so many alluring possibilities.

A big mole fan, I couldn't resist trying the restaurant's version. In the pollo con mole, the sauce worked well, complementing the roasted chicken breast. Fried plantains, white rice and black beans shared the plate.

Another tasty entree, San Miguel Enchiladas, garnered high marks from my dining partner, who relished their freshness and thoughtful presentation. The three enchiladas -- every bite a savory pleasure -- were stuffed with chicken, potato and chorizo, then topped with roasted guajillo chili sauce, crema fresca (sour cream) and queso fresco (white cheese).

Three recent menu additions include La Pina Loca ("crazy pineapple") stuffed with chicken, steak, peppers and onions in a red pepper; Brochetta Brava with beef tips, smoked bacon, grilled peppers, onions and tomato with a cream tomatillo sauce; and El Cozumel, a mix of sauteed shrimp and chicken breast in a garlic mojo sauce, with potato and carrots garnished with black kale.

Flan, tres leches cake, sopapillas and churros were among standards found on the dessert list. Casa Real also serves assorted cheesecakes, including a winning bananas Foster version flambéed in dark rum and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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