Good Eats at Qué Onda: Enjoy flavorful, authentic Mexican food and cocktails at this stylish Edison Park cantina
Location: 6701 N. Northwest Highway in Edison Park
The vibe: The management at Qué Onda likes to say they bring the ambiance of a Mexican-style cantina to the heart of Edison Park, and after enjoying a late-summer dinner on their sun-soaked patio recently, we aren’t about to argue.
Stylish, colorful, lively and inviting, Qué Onda offers a variety of table configurations, fresh flowers, exposed brick, a vibrant red wall, retro posters, industrial-style hanging lights and a 12-seat bar inside the restaurant — with large glass doors that open to a sidewalk patio during warmer weather.
My brother-in-law was still raving about the giant confit pork shank a few weeks after our dinner. It’s slow-cooked and fall-off-the-bone tender with a perfect blend of flavors.
The food: The focus is “locally-grown produce, sustainable choices and the freshest flavors,” and the freshness of the various dishes is evident from the first appearance through the last bite.
We kicked off our feast with empanadas de jaiba. As a family, we rarely escape without ordering empanadas whenever they’re offered on a menu. Que Onda’s version is a blue corn masa dumpling that is — here’s the key — stuffed with a generous portion of crab meat. It sits atop a bit of mild arbol salsa and comes topped with crema, queso fresco, mushroom and onions. By all accounts, a stellar way to start.
The street tacos were a hit, as we selected the crispy battered fish with slaw, a garlic lime mayo and fermented fresno sauce, as well as the al pastor (slow-roasted pork, pineapple, salsa verde, cilantro and onion) and succulent shrimp with a honey-chipotle mayo and cucumber slaw. Four tacos per order are served with black beans and rice.
My wife enjoyed the grilled steak bowl, which comes layered with treasures like beans, lettuce, salsa verde, pico de gallo and chihuahua cheese. A few weeks after our dinner, my brother-in-law was still raving about the giant confit pork shank, which was fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy, carrying a perfect balance of flavors when slow-cooked with a bit of habanero, marinated onions and tomatillo salsa. It arrives at the table on a plate fit for a king, with a host of pickled vegetables on the side.
Not to be forgotten is a must-share bowl of elotes — Mexican street corn drizzled with garlic mayo, chili and lime. Delectable, I tell you. Do not forget this as a side for the table.
Get your drink on: With their whiskeys, rums, tequilas and much of their beer coming from Mexico, Qué Onda’s cocktails are carefully crafted to give you the true taste of our neighbors to the south.
It doesn’t take long to realize the cocktails are a real draw here, perfect for happy hour or a Sunday funday. We enjoyed a strawberry margarita, “Frida” cocktail made with infused jalapeno tequila, aloe liquor, peach bitters, egg white, lime and strawberry, as well as a few Mexican beers with dinner.
Great for group outings: Qué Onda’s staff is able to accommodate large groups and events thanks to their upstairs venue, and a lot of the menu is ideal for catering and sharing.
We’ll be back because: The food was delicious, cocktails inventive, and the menu has something for everyone. Whether it’s date night with your significant other or lunch and drinks with a group of friends, Qué Onda is a fun, accommodating spot.