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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Viva la Revolucion

The best Mexican restaurant to open in Milwaukee this year

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Revolucion is a very ambitious Mexican restaurant in a modest location on Morgan Avenue. There are about a dozen tables surrounded by attractive décor featuring tasteful lighting and framed photos of Mexican revolutionaries. On every table is a lava rock molcajete, a bowl with three legs. This type of bowl is often used to prepare guacamole, but here the purpose is for the house specialty, fajitas.

Fajitas are an item that I rarely order, but these are different from the norm. The carne asada ($13.99) offers a piece of steak that is grilled and topped with cheese. The molcajete holds sliced bell peppers, onions and more cheese. The steak is the most tender cut I have ever encountered at a Mexican restaurant—top quality. The vegetables contain subtle flavors of chile peppers. Along with a delightfully tart pico de gallo, there are the usual accompaniments of tortillas, chopped lettuce and sour cream. The molcajete retains heat, so it keeps everything warm for quite some time. Besides beef, the fajitas are also prepared with chicken, tilapia, shrimp and veggies. Fajitas rarely get this good.

The menu holds many other treats as well. The restaurant is even open for breakfast. It is the dinner menu that offers the most variety.

All of the items are labeled with a Mexican point of origin. An example is the tinga de pollo, pulled chicken stewed with tomato and chile that makes a great taco plate ($8.99). The dish, which is also served as enchiladas ($8.99), comes from southeast Mexico and the Yucatan.

The solid starter of vegetarian tamales ($4.99) is filled with cheese and poblano chiles and wrapped in a corn husk. Even better are the Oaxacan tamales stuffed with chicken and wrapped in banana leaves. The key is the flavorful mole poblano, an excellent, chocolate-based mole.

The entrees feature more than fajitas. Cochinita pibil ($12.99) is Yucatecan pulled pork with pickled onion and a marinade of citrus with achiote. It is a classic dish that is found on few local menus. Even more unusual is cordero ($16.99), a braised lamb shank. It is prepared with three different chiles, none too spicy, and served with cheese mashed potatoes and caramelized carrots. This is a mighty fine plate of food.

Tacos—with 10 options to choose from—are served by the plate ($8.99-$11.99). The priciest, seared yellowfin tuna, is contrasted by pescado, ancho chile-marinated tilapia with pickled vegetables, gently spiced. The enchiladas are also good, especially the barbacoa ($9.99), with slow-cooked beef that falls apart. They are topped with a vibrant green salsa of poblano cream. These plates include tasty Mexican rice and black beans with cheese that are playfully spicy.

Currently, the restaurant does not serve alcohol. But to kick things off, chips with a spicy tomato and chile-based salsa are complimentary. Also consider a bowl of tortilla soup ($2.99), chipotle broth with chicken, onion, corn and strips of poblano pepper. It is beefed up with tortilla strips and topped with avocado and sour cream.

The moderately priced breakfast menu tops out at $6. The lunch menu, though much smaller than the dinner menu, offers most of the fajitas at reduced prices. And the tamales may be ordered as a plate.

Revolucion is the best Mexican restaurant to open this year. Hopefully it will be around for many years to come.

Revolucion

2901 W. Morgan Ave.

(414) 383-4108

$$

Credit Cards: MC, VS

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