When I ask Dan Salls, local food-truck innovator and owner of forthcoming mezcal bar Quiote, he sounds a similar “trust the help” line (“The best way to do it is just to talk to the bartenders”) but also stresses individual palette development. “There’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for smoky, or something fresher and green and vegetal, whether you want to taste melon, there’s one that smells like parmesan cheese.” Our advice: order the omakase and jump from there.
By year’s end, Chicago will see at least six new bars or restaurants with a mezcal focus. “All the places are very disparate, different goals,” says Schroeder. Salls’ concept, for one, will add Oaxacan food to the table, looking to hit three key points: mezcaleria, snack bar, and a more composed plate aspect -- traditional Oaxacan foods include moles, tlayuda, and chipalines. “We want to replicate that experience where you’re sitting at the mezcaleria, and you’ve had a few drinks, then order some snacks.” The educational impulse is palpable. “It’s really easy to purchase things,” says Schroeder. “Imparting legitimate knowledge -- that is most important.”