As many Libertyville residents know, the restaurant, Casa Bonita Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, has been located at the corner of Milwaukee Ave and Lake Street (633 Milwaukee Ave) since 2009. In friendly weather and if you are coming from LHS or Cook Memorial library and traveling north on Brainerd, you may see Casa Bonita guests sitting on the outdoor patio as you wait for the Lake Street light to change.
I had Platos Vegetarianos (vegetarian burrito), with white rice, and black beans. The burrito was good; although it appeared the kitchen at that time had more cheese than vegetables. The black beans were slightly spicy and tasty – typical black beans. The coconut rice (white) was fluffy and tasty –it had a unique taste and I may just return to experience that taste again.
My wife tried the Pollo a la Casa Bonita (Chicken from the nice house) which includes breast of chicken with melted cheese and spicy chipotle sauce. She chose the soft corn tortillas and mentioned a number of times the authentic corn taste.
For dinner, entrees were around $14-17. Two of my lunch mates had a fruity drink, which came in around the $7-8 fare. The total bill came to around $100, which included four guests. A little pricey? Perhaps, although the location is great and the food and drink was good. In terms of ambience although so close to the Milwaukee Ave speedway, every Harley, Yamaha or Honda motorcycle driver made their presence known, in addition to certain trucks. One quick digression, why are some motorists cited for a loud muffler when it appears to be a prerequisite for motorcycles?
I had to ask a number of times for a diet Pepsi to go. As I made my request to the host, she gave me a mix of a glare and a smile — perhaps I did not ask it appropriately or it is not typical to make that request here.
Speaking of the patio, in colder weather, they include a patio heater. With our unpredictable spring weather, it’s not common for Casa Bonita to open the patio before sometime in May. Fall is a different color. With gradually cooling weather from September until mid-November, the patio is often open with many patio heaters keeping those diehards company. Some southerns don’t realize how precious outdoor cafes are in the states bordering the Great Lakes so when savvy restaurateurs extend the outdoor dining season by even several weeks, this often helps with their brand building.
For food and the authentic flavor, I’d give it 3.75 stars out of 5. Regarding ambience, because the patio encompasses the entire side of the intersection, sitting on the opposite side might produce an ambience of 3 out of 5.
As of today, Yelp includes 192 reviews. Average rating is 3 out of 5. Based on 98 reviews, TripAdvisor gives Nice House (Casa Bonita) 4 out of 5.