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I can see why — it’s a handsome dish with meaty cylinders of grilled octopus paired with crisped pieces of potato in a garlicky mayo.
Given the promise shown by the other dishes, pluma iberica, a roast pork dish for two, presented well but tasted fairly pedestrian.What could have been a large, cavernous room, has been pared down into something cozy by a riot of patterns, seemingly invited in from all corners of the globe: zigzagging tile, elaborate carved wood, sparkling chandeliers, lush plants, flickering candles, Oriental rugs — all presided over by an open kitchen, glowing like a warm beacon from the back of the room.As we walked out, back into the stark, cold street, something Jack Kerouac wrote in “The Dharma Bums” came to mind: “I think it’s all lovely hallucination but I love it sorta.”Chicago abounds with tamales.While I'd never trade these for one of the gorgeously fragrant tamales served at places like Bombon Cafe (138 S.Ashland Ave.), they are a fascinating addition to the scene.But The Delta manages to set itself apart by serving Mississippi Delta tamales, a distinct style that, if it weren't completely obvious by now, originated in the Mississippi Delta (basically, the northwest part of that state).They differ from ubiquitous Mexican tamales in that they are constructed from cornmeal instead of masa (nixtamalized corn), and cooked in a liquid instead of being steamed.Barrio offers a selection of tacos both traditional and “deconstructed” (that means you get to build them yourself). Sadly, you have to have the same filling in all three.(I wanted more of that octopus.) I chose the smoky skirt steak — delicious with a dollop of melted cheese and an onion relish wrapped in a sturdy blue corn tortilla.As the Tribune reported around the time Barrio opened last summer, look for “Mexican-ish” here.Lunch is a creative take on Mexican dishes and flavors that pull in American and Japanese additions.