If you're hungry past 9 p.m., there really isn't a lot left to work with, especially if you're trying to eat out. But Los Portales, that Mexican Restaurant on Main Street in Chicago Heights with the huge cow in the parking lot, is open until midnight, even during the week.
So when I pulled up on a Thursday, just before 9 p.m., I was surprised no one was in the dining room eating dinner. My friend and I decided to not only order something other than the typical taco or burrito dinner, we decided to eat in. The restaurant is very clean and they really try to make you feel as if you have left Chicago Heights and arrived in Mexico, with Latin music on the TV and cultural landscape paintings etched onto the wall.
Enselma, a waitress there for almost a year, brought us menus and chips with a spicy salsa almost immediately. She says the most popular entree is the Parrillada Combination, a large selection of beef ribs, mexican sausage, steak, chicken and pork, garnished with guacamole, pico de gallo and corn and flour tortillas.
But we went for a Beef Torta Dinner with beans and salsa. The Torta, made on a huge bun with lettuce, sour cream and avocado..really is reminiscent of an American burger. The food arrived amazingly fast and it was fresh, and surpisingly not salty.
What had an unusual flavor from what I typically expected from Mexican fare, were the beans. They were mixed with a salsa, so not only were they somewhat red in color, but they had a different flavor than the typical refried beans.
But the chips with the variety of salsas were nearly perfect, and the Coke we ordered came in a bottle.
As we dined, several people stopped in for carryout. Chicago Heights resident Jesse said he has been coming in for the "pretty decent" chicken tacos for the past two years.
What I've learned here is the service is great, but I would prefer to stick to my old standby, steak tacos, rice and beans without anything extra.