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Tipsi Monkey offers upscale Mexican food, drinks

Tipsi Rajan n Jessica:  Owner Rajan Choprmanager JessicArmstrong bar Tipsi Monkey Winthrop Harbor which offers friendly service good food

Tipsi Rajan n Jessica: Owner Rajan Chopra and manager Jessica Armstrong at the bar at Tipsi Monkey in Winthrop Harbor, which offers friendly service good food and exceptional drinks. | Tina Johansson ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Tipsi Monkey

1016 Sheridan Road, Winthrop Harbor

(847) 246-3932

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At first glance, one might think Tipsi Monkey Taco & Tequila Bar is just a little tavern with a cute name on the side of Sheridan Road. But once inside, patrons know they will be offered something special.

Not only does the place invoke a fun vibe and offers drinks-aplenty — there are as many as 30 different varieties of tequila — visitors find they are soon to become diners, too. And likely regulars at that.

The friendly ambiance is apparent for customers the moment they step inside. “They really do treat everyone in there like their best friend,” said Buddy Peacock of Winthrop Harbor. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see owner Rajan Chopra, an ambitious 21-year-old, sit down with people to chat and ask them how they like the food.

With south-of-the-border fare fast becoming standard grub these days, Tipsi Monkey goes beyond to offer upscale Mexican food in an intimate setting.

Everybody gets homemade chips and salsa to begin, “Even if they’re just having a drink,” said Chopra. The guacamole is extra and is well worth the $1.50 for its creamy yet chunky flavorful blend.

Chef Luis Arcos is a whiz in the kitchen and so is Jose Rivera who sometimes takes over. Often the two will offer specials as well as the regular menu items, said Jessica Armstrong, manager of the eatery.

Entrees range from about $7.50 to $14.99 and are fresh and unique like the Ancho Chilie Rubbed skirt steak, Chango Chicken Enchilada Stack and the Enchiladas Luis — a house favoriate made with grilled steak, chicken or a potato chorizo mix.

The tacos include the “349 Veggie,” an ode to Chopra’s vegetarian grandmother. There are also pulled pork tacos served on crispy, fried wonton shells, and a favorite, fish tacos served with sweet chili sauce.

Don’t miss out on Taco Tuesdays. From 3 to 5 p.m., diners can have $2 tacos. Everyday, domestic beers are $2, and $4 for imports.

For dessert try out the banana spring rolls served with coconut ice cream.

Chopra’s older brother Rishi, who is gearing up to attend medical school, owns the place with him. The two garnered their experience by working alongside their parents in the food service industry since they were young.

At one time, the family owned upwards of six corporate cafeterias around the Chicagoland area, said Chopra. Today they still have one of those, as well as another Tipsi Monkey in Bartlett, which was actually the first.

Chopra is sure once given a try, people will be back to the one-year-old place in Winthrop Harbor. And now is the best time to try out the selection of frozen drinks and refreshing sangria.

The place with its lime-green walls and sunny mood can seat about 55 including a bar and a few tables outside.

“I want to make sure everybody leaves here happy,” said Chopra, adding that he’d like to have an acoustic guitarist perform at the place on weekend nights.

Tipsi Monkey delivers to boaters at North Point Marina as well as caters many events and business functions.

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