Mother’s Day—A Toda Madre

July 2015 View more

NMAG0715_TableForTwo_A toda madre-0031_800pxFor a certain demographic, the measuring stick for anything involving a substantial queue or significant wait time was always “The Bozo Show,” and the tales were as legendary as they were surely exaggerated. A ticket application sent when the child was in utero, finally fulfilled as the lad was headed off to college. Parents who applied for tickets for their four-year-old daughter, but ended up taking their grandchildren instead. This was just a glorified carnival/puppet show, right?

In west suburban dining circles, however, the bar for a similar kind of popular folklore has long been set by Bien Trucha, the rapturously embraced Mexican hideaway in Geneva. It’s so small that any night under fire code capacity is considered slow. A party of four put their name in on a Friday night in August and got the table just in time for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Like the Bozo stories, there’s a tiny air pocket of truth buried somewhere deep beneath the pile of overstatement. And just like the confusion among Bozo non-believers, those who have never experienced the place demonstrate a similar lack of appreciation for what all the fuss could possibly be about. After all, it’s just a taco place, right?

NMAG0715_TableForTwo_A toda madre-0016_800pxBring the Noise

Well, yes, Bien Trucha is “just” a taco place, but its wild popularity suggests something more. Now those who have been curious but perhaps scared off from a trip across the Fox by the tall tales can see what all the fuss is about with a short trip east to Glen Ellyn, where the folks behind Bien Trucha are working with a similar concept and a familiar air of public adulation at A Toda Madre (literally, “every mother;” colloquially, “totally awesome”).

NMAG0715_TableForTwo_A toda madre-0115_800pxFans of the Geneva operation—where A Toda Madre actually got its start as an adjunct to its heavily swarmed sibling—will appreciate the less cramped, but still cozy, new outpost, as well as the lively atmosphere, which brings a similarly undeniable energy to the room and, yes, tends to force most table conversations well above a whisper. The wait times, too, will be somewhat familiar to those who have bided their time in Geneva, especially on weekends, which, combined with the lack of a children’s menu and a focus on serious Mexican cooking, makes it a less-than-ideal spot for fragile little ears or non-adventurous palates.

NMAG0715_TableForTwo_A toda madre-0096_800pxProof on the Plate

Babysitter willing, however, grown-ups won’t take long to discover exactly how Bien Trucha earned its worth-the-wait reputation. We started with the guacamole. While the day’s intriguing special version included watermelon, our fealty to tradition was well rewarded with the chunky, tangy mound of traditional avocado-and-accouterments that proved quick and delicious work.

NMAG0715_TableForTwo_A toda madre-0048_800pxFrom there, we ventured onto the slate of 10 different taco iterations, ultimately settling after much debate upon the chicken—rolled and fried, flauta-style—and the “Bien Trucha,” featuring skirt steak and chorizo abetted by a wonderfully rich tomatillo-serrano salsa. While the descriptions of the sautéed shrimp, pastor and swordfish varieties made it fairly clear that we couldn’t have gone wrong, we were more than pleased with our choices. Rounding out the table was a trio of shareable sides, including a fantastic grilled corn concoction, rich and creamy rice with Chihuahua cheese and poblanos, and a bowl of drunken beans with pork belly.

We capped off the meal amid the growing din of the room with a straightforward but just-right flan for dessert, and the satisfaction of knowing we had snagged a table and eaten our dinner while still young enough to enjoy it with all of our natural teeth. Because we heard there was this couple who came in one night, and the wait was so long…

A Toda Madre
499 N. Main Street Glen Ellyn

Photos by Greg Shapps