If you’ve ever been cornered by a close-talker with strong opinions on ear candling, you know that one annoying person can ruin a party. The same is true of restaurants: one or two bad dishes can ruin an otherwise enjoyable meal. At Lonesome Rose, a Tex-Mex spot in Logan Square, you’ll have a good time if you’re selective about which dishes you decide to spend time with.
First off, this is a relaxing place to hang. The atmosphere channels southern California, with an open and airy space, wood accents, and a lot of plants for decor. It’s open all day, with a few breakfast options and a short lunch and dinner menu. But while some things on the menu are good, the fact that the choices are so limited makes the unsuccessful dishes as distracting as that guest who hangs out by the Chex Mix and keeps talking about their theory that JK Rowling doesn’t actually exist.
We’ll start with the hits - like the chili con queso. The cheese coats the chips without being too thick, and there’s just the right amount of both Velveeta-y-ness and spice. As for tacos, the fish is by far our favorite, with tilapia fried perfectly in a flavorful beer batter, and a remoulade dressing that complements the other ingredients very well. The fried chicken torta is also delicious, with juicy chicken, pickled peppers, and a rose aioli that keeps things interesting without tasting like a flower shop.
Other dishes don’t come off as well, though. The nachos - topped with queso, black beans, carne asada, and both pickled onions and fresno chiles - start out looking great, but the liquid cheese and black beans end up turning everything into a wet, grey mess. Sogginess is also an issue with the rajas con crema taco (it basically tastes like a mouthful of sour cream), as well as a shrimp taco that’s drenched in a pasilla chili sauce. Then there’s the bitter-tasting fire chicken taco. It’s the only more “fusion-y” item on the menu, with gochujang and nori, and it seems as out of place as that 38-year-old who shows up at a college party.
All this being said, you can still enjoy Lonesome Rose if you order properly. Their cocktails are excellent - unsurprisingly, since this place is owned by same people as Lost Lake (a fantastic bar in the same neighborhood). And the restaurant is nice enough inside to make hanging out over drinks and queso enjoyable. Plus, after 5pm they open their basement bar, Golden Teardrops, which also has great drinks, and is a good option if you want to hang out somewhere different but not actually walk more than a few steps.
At the end of the day, Lonesome Rose is a neighborhood restaurant. Not worth going out of your way for, but perfectly fine if you’re nearby and know what to get. It’s like your annual block party, where you’ll see both the nice neighbor who watches your dog and the guy who’s always double parked and blocks everyone in. Put a little bit of thought into your game plan and you’ll have a good time.
You should order these. The chips are fried in-house, and the salsas are very good. If you’re a guacamole person, get some of that, too.
Very good. There’s an option to add chorizo and black beans, and you should do that. The beans add texture, and the chorizo adds smokiness without being greasy. Just ignore it when the black beans inevitably turn the cheese a little grey.
This is a very frustrating plate of food. Everything on it (steak, pickled fresnos and onions, sour cream, and queso) tastes great. But the thin chips can’t stand up to all the toppings, and ultimately the whole thing gets soggy and muddled.
A good fish taco in Chicago is a rare and wonderful thing, and the beer-battered tilapia at Lonesome Rose does a respectable job of helping us pretend we’re on the West Coast. Order this.
The steak pieces are a little large and tough, but they have a decent flavor, and we like the addition of pineapple. We’ll take it over the following two tacos.
This taco is a mess. The BBQ shrimp is bland, and it’s served with charred corn in a pasilla chili sauce that makes the whole thing sloppy.
If you like eating mouthfuls of sour cream, order this taco. It’s filled with roasted poblano peppers, chayote squash, and way too much crema.
Raw albacore tuna served on a tostada with avocado, a creole remoulade, and fried artichokes. The tuna is fresh, but has the texture you might expect in a below-average poke bowl. Fried artichokes are a nice touch, though.
The chicken is juicy, the batter is good, and we really like the addition of pickled peppers. This is a good sandwich.
Corn on the cob served with pepita ailo, cotija, chili gastrique, and chili worm salt. A little messy to eat, but tasty.
There is nothing unlikeable about Lonesome Rose’s Cajeta With Cinnamon Crunch soft serve. You want this.
Unless you live right next door, don’t bother coming here for the breakfast tacos. There are five available, and they have eggs and cheese plus meat options like bacon, chorizo, and steak. Bland and underwhelming.