Estrella Negra, an interesting new BYOB restaurant-cum-art gallery in Logan Square, is a labor of love and a family affair for owner Otoniel Michel, a local musician with the Latin alternative band StankStar.
The menu here is "contemporary Latin," meaning Michel's mama taught him how to make the classics, which he and his friends made their own. You'll find signature dishes like "El 24 Tacos" (named after Michel's cousin), which are made with prime steak sauteed with bacon, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos ($10); and "La Estrella Tamales," offering either the traditional version (with pork and salsa roja) or three-cheese, spinach and artichoke ($10).
Works created by local artists (many of them Michel's family members, friends and regular customers) decorate the walls of Estrella Negra, all of which is for sale. (You could even be sitting next to the artist in question, so keep it in mind when offering your armchair art critiques.) An underlit bar, colorful mosaic tiles and no shortage of Mexican "Day of the Dead" references keep the vibe loose and funky, fitting for this unpretentious, laid-back neighborhood.
In keeping with the indie spirit, visit Provenance Food and Wine on California Avenue, a neighborhood purveyor of affordable wines, small-batch beers and more gourmet items. Note: Estrella Negra charges a corkage fee of $5 per bottle or six-pack of beer.