First impressions: Even if you know Geneva, Bien Trucha is hard to find. It's tucked next to a hair salon in a small, nondescript building on the main drag. But what a find it is. There's nothing exotic about this Mexican restaurant, unless you count watermelon-infused guacamole or tangerine margaritas. What it has is simply great. Even though it has been open for just one year, Bien Trucha has a lot of regulars already. Many remember Tia Maria, the Geneva Mexican restaurant run by Ricardo Garcia-Rubio before he left in 2003 for an ill-fated restaurant in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. He was back by 2006, and figured even if he had a little money he would do his own thing. His vision of a "nice little restaurant" was Bien Trucha; what he didn't expect were crowds lining up for his small place.
Small is the operative word: If the servers try hard, Bien Trucha can squeeze in about six tables. Grab a margarita and wait outside. Garcia-Rubio says they are contemplating moving to bigger digs.On the plate: Nothing costs more than $9.95 here. The menu keeps things simple: tacos, tortas (sandwiches), cazuelitas (little casseroles), sopas (soups), guacamole, salads and margaritas. But what Bien Trucha does, it does well.
Second helpings: Start things off with a fresh, refreshing margarita. Pair it with guacamole, a chunky and salty version. The guacamole special goes creative: Our version incorporated watermelon for a sweet, colorful touch.
When is a sandwich not a sandwich? When it's a torta. And Bien Trucha's trump any other torta (or sandwich) in town. There are seven choices, from vegetarian to chorizo. We loved the capitalina. Grilled pineapple provides a fabulous, sweet finish to the adobe-marinated pork, melted Chihuahua cheese, avocado and aioli sauce. The Magica, a chopped portobello mushroom concoction, runs a close second.
But then there are the tacos, four to an order. Try the fish tacos, with loads of crispy tilapia topped with red cabbage and that requisite lime wedge. Or even better, the Bien Trucha, a juicy grilled skirt steak and chorizo with a spicy tomatillo-serrano salsa. Points for presentation: Most dishes arrive on wooden boards.
Take a pass: The chorizo cazuelita is kind of hard to eat, with stringy cheese and chorizo.
Thirst quenchers: Get the refreshing traditional margarita, with its fresh muddled lime. Or branch out to one of the five other choices. Here's hoping the daily special is the tangerine; its mild sweetness will spoil you for those premixed potions elsewhere.
Price range: Appetizers, $6.95-$7.95; soups, $3.95-$5.95; salads, $4.95; entrees, $7.95-$9.95; drinks, $1.50-$9.95.
410 W. State St., Geneva
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tues.-Thur., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat. (closed 3-4 p.m. Fri. and Sat.). Closed Sun.
Credit cards: D, M, V
Noise: Conversation friendly, most nights
Reservations: Not accepted
Ratings key: 4 forks, don't miss it; 3 forks, one of the best; 2 forks, very good; 1 fork, good
Cheap Eats reviews restaurants where entrees are $13 or less. Reviews are based on anonymous visits by Tribune staff members; meals are paid for by the Tribune.