Carnitas, soft shell tacos with pork confit, orange supreme, cilantro and red onion, is plated at CiNe Modern Taqueria in Hinsdale. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
29 E. First St., Hinsdale
Hours: 4-10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Small plates, $6-$14; main courses, $16-$32; desserts, $5-$7.50.
Try: Trio of empanadas, ceviche, pork tacos, sweet plantain bisque with vanilla ice cream.
Tips: Reservations accepted. Valet parking available. Full bar. Private party room. Separate bar and kids’ menus. Lunch service is under study, but it probably won’t happen until summer.
In a bite: Cine, Peter Burdi’s new contemporary Mexican restaurant, joins Il Poggiolo (Italian) and Nabuki (Japanese), and it looks like another winner. Hinsdale’s dining scene is all the better for it.
KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good;
Zero stars: Poor
With two successes to his credit in the past four years, attorney-turned-restaurateur Peter Burdi continues to make a name for himself on Hinsdale’s dining scene.
CiNe, the latest addition to Burdi’s fold, calls itself a modern taqueria and brings a hip take on familiar Mexican dishes. It’s just down the street from his other popular venues, Il Poggiolo and Nabuki, whose contemporary Italian and Japanese dishes have enticed food lovers since day one.
CiNe, which draws its name from “cinema,” occupies remodeled space that once housed Hinsdale Theater, whose roots date back to 1925; its name appears in neon lights on the marquee. Inside, there’s seating for about 200 (our server’s estimate) at the bar, at tables and booths in the main dining room and in a private-party area.
There’s custom molding, a plaster ceiling, lots of exposed brick and an eye-catching color scheme with dashes of reds and greens. The interior is nicely carved into intimate areas.
Directing the kitchen is Yanitzin (Yanni) Sanchez, a two-star Michelin chef who previously was chef-owner of the now-closed Sabor Saveur in Chicago. Influences of her training at both the Culinary Institute of Mexico in Puebla and Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie in Paris are reflected in CiNe’s smart menu, from which diners can create a meal of small plates, main courses or from a combination of the two.
Shareable appetizer-size selections are priced from $6 to $14 and include quesadillas, tostadas and six varieties of tacos, among others. Full entrees such as fajitas, chicken with mole, chile relleno and pan-roasted salmon go for $16 to $32, the most expensive being filet with tomatillo: hanger steak marinated in mild guajillo chilis and served with a tomatillo, chile pasilla, garlic and red onion sauce accompanied by roasted potatoes.
Try the homemade guacamole with warm tortilla chips. The dish — ripe avocado mixed with red onion, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro and a hint of lime juice and plain yogurt — creates a symphony of Latin flavors.
The trio of empanadas, a popular dish at CiNe, was smartly executed. Each flaky miniature turnover serenaded my taste buds with its delicious combination of flavors. They included slow-roasted pibil-style pulled pork; beef picadillo with ground beef, green olives, raisins, almonds and a tomatillo-oregano sauce, and a vegetarian version with roasted poblano peppers, sweet corn, cotija cheese and sour cream.
I can also recommend the ceviche. This tasty version, presented in a small lidded canning jar, included bay scallops, shrimp, jicama, pineapple and mango dressed in a citrus vinaigrette.
Tacos can be humdrum, but CiNe takes them to a higher plane. Especially good was our shared order (four for $13) of soft tacos with pork confit, sliced orange, cilantro and red onion. A seriously zippy morita chicharron sauce, plated on the side, added extra flavor.
Full bar service includes specialty Mexican cocktails as well as a tidy selection of wines and beers. The CiNe Margarita, a generous pour, benefitted from freshly squeezed lime juice.
There are only four desserts, but the one you need to know about and try is the Sweet Plantain Bisque. I can see why our knowledgeable server steered us in that direction. The description — lightly fried sweet plantains buried in a golden caramel bisque served with vanilla ice cream — doesn’t begin to tell the story of this lush confection. Trust me: It’s worth every calorie.
Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.