Tequila producers transform the bitter nectar of a prickly agave plant into a delectably smooth, nuanced libation, a process recalling a caterpillar's dazzling metamorphosis into a smooth-talking bug-man. Behold the belly-filling wonders of nature with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Mexican-American cuisine at Salud Tequila Lounge in Wicker Park.
Salud's extensive selection of 100% agave tequilas recast the cactusy libation as something to be sipped and savored, pairing its earthy flavors with a menu of fresh, upscale Mexican-American cuisine. While discussing flavor-notes from the more than 75 tequilas, nosh on savory antojitos such as a trio of original, pineapple, and chipotle pumpkin-flavored guacamoles ($12), or dip chorizo-stuffed cremini mushrooms into a chipotle ranch sauce ($8). Temper the urge to crunch on unyielding flatware with a plate of Salud nachos ($8), then move on to heartier fare including tacos topped with grilled skirt steak ($9), slow-roasted pork belly ($7.50), or sauteed shrimp ($9), each with their own flavor-specific suite of accompaniments. Those craving meatier mouthfuls can sink teeth into burger-like tortas layered with delectable accessories such as salsa and jalapeno bacon to outfit palates in savory style ($9$11).
In addition to subtle, 2-ounce pours of blancos, oak-aged reposados, and sage-like anejos, Salud proffers selections of fine cervezas, non-tequila liquors such as rum and cachaca, and mixed beverages such as mojitos ($9$9.50) or a suite of margaritas ($8$10). Regular events provide chef Jose Gonzalez a chance to craft special-tasting menus highlighting the beverages' unique effects on taste buds, which range from making them tingle to inspiring exuberant recitations of Keats' Ode to a Nightingale. As the night moves on, ditch the smooth comfort of a booth for the free-flailing expressionism of light dancing within the chic, dimly lit space.
-   - Great service. Even better lobster and avocado tacos! I'm drooling just thinking about them. Nicole B., Yelp, 7/8/08
-   - We also got the shredded chicken tacos -- also very very good. But I liked the pork better ... which I usually would not order. The pork was seasoned so well -- it really was the best meat I have ever tasted. Swim123, Citysearch.
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