photo by Bella Bueno.
photo by Bella Bueno.

A Must Visit in Mount Prospect: Mia’s Cantina

January 19, 2022

Tacos are an incredibly popular dish in the US. In fact, according to NationalTacoDay.com, Americans alone consume over 4.5 billion tacos a year. 

And it’s not just tacos that are popular in the US, but it’s the entire Mexican cuisine, behind the American and Italian cuisines. Yet, despite the popularity of Mexican dishes, it’s difficult to find an authentic Mexican restaurant in Mount Prospect. There’s Chipotle, Taco Bell and other ‘fast food’ Mexican restaurants, but looking for a sit down restaurant for a more formal dining experience, may lead you astray. Mia’s Cantina, however, is a hidden gem in the roughs of fast-food and poor service. 

Mia’s Cantina is a family owned Mexican restaurant that opened back in 2012. Located on Prospect Avenue, Mia’s has a packed menu with their own family recipes and great service.

Mia’s Cantina is easily one of the most welcoming restaurants in Mount Prospect. There’s an outdoor seating area for a sunny day and TVs located in the restaurant so you can watch your favorite sports while enjoying your food. 

When you walk inside Mia’s Cantina, you can quickly notice the colorful walls, a well-known decor that is often used in Mexican restaurants to engage all senses, connect taste with the atmosphere and to create a calm, enjoyable environment. The menu includes a variety of dishes from enchiladas to carne asada and much more. All meals come with free chips and salsa while you wait for entrees. 

If you’re still looking for the perfect taco, Mia’s serves three tacos for about $12, with just an extra two dollars for a side of rice and beans.

On top of all that, Mia’s won the “Best Mexican” award in 2018, an award given to the top Mexican restaurant in the Chicagoland area and voted on by local businesses (Research study by Captive Audience Media/National Media Restaurant Surveys USA). Also, the restaurant  has the potential to draw in customers from all over the Mt. Prospect/Arlington Heights area. 

Though the location of Mia’s may be less desirable for business than Randhurst or Downtown Arlington Heights, the restaurant can be just a quick walk or drive for the residents on the south side of Mount Prospect. 

Overall, the most memorable attribute at Mia’s is the friendly employees. Here, employees really care about the customers, and have a history of remembering names and orders in future visits, according to many Google Reviews. On Google, no matter how negative or positive a review is, the owner of the restaurant responds, showing the customer that they care and respect all views and opinions on the restaurant. In my own experience, I’ve never met a more helpful and thoughtful team of employees, and it was my favorite part of my time at Mia’s Cantina. 

Currently, with the pandemic, Mia’s Cantina is taking the necessary precautions to keep their employees and customers safe including standard mask wearing, online menus and disinfection of surfaces between visits. They also have online orders for pick up and delivery if you hope to avoid conversations and eat at home. In warm weather, they have outdoor dining, which can help prevent the spread of Covid. However, despite the other precautions, they do not currently require a vaccination card for entry. 

Nonetheless, Mia’s still has some flaws to work out before becoming an exemplary restaurant. Though Mia’s Cantina is open every day of the week, it can be quite empty on weekdays. It’s not the key place for a quick bite during your study hall or short break, and you may find yourself waiting a long time for food despite a near empty restaurant. 

Particularly on the weekend, when the restaurant is packed, it can become difficult to get a fast visit in. From my experience, the wait time is quite unpredictable, with very long wait times one day, and speedy service the next. 

Even though the cost can’t compare to the delicious food served, Mia’s has menu prices that may be expensive for teens. The most famous dish served, carne asada, is $24, while enchiladas are around $16. A variety of deserts including flan and churros are all $5 or $6. For comparison, chips and tacos at Chipotle are $11 or $10 depending on the meat you order. While it might not be affordable for consistent visits, it is great for a special meal with friends or family.

In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a legitimate Mexican restaurant, look no further than Mia’s Cantina. Though Mia’s can make a few changes to ensure faster visits, it’s still bound to shock you with it’s own brand of uniqueness.

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