-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City
You would be pretty damn hard pressed to find a white boy out there that has eaten as many tacos and tamales as I have. Growing up in Lincoln Park before it became a yuppie zone there were many Mexican Corner Cafes that ran out of old houses and had a restaurant on the bottom and living space on top. These spots were true family restaurants. Within a 6 mile radius one had the choice of Lindo Mexico (RIP) El Sol (RIP) Las Fuentes, El Presidente, Mi Casa Su Casa (RIP) Taco Burrito Palace #2, Fiesta Mexicana, Allende and the list goes on and on and I've been and went to them all. This is just in early 90's Lincoln Park mind you. So imagine my joy the first time I ever made it to 26th st. for some Mexican eats.
Chicago's La Villita neighborhood
If I knocked you out with a mini white Sox bat and blindfolded your head until you woke up a few hours later and dropped you off on 26th st. you would think you were in Mexico and wouldn't have a clue your still in the USA. Mexicans from all over the Midwest visit Little Village’s vibrant 26th street retail district for the kinds of goods they could only find back home. It is also home to many restaurants that serve authentic Mexican food in a festive setting, La Villita is also a tourist destination for non-Latinos as well. Particularly people who love them some of the best Mexican food anywhere. It also happens to be the home to one of my favorite lunch destinations in the city.
another gem on 26th street
Taqueria El Milagro is the restaurant/cafeteria portion (one of 3 locations) to the El Milagro empire. El Milagro also happens to be one of the countries main tortilla suppliers and one of the 5+ tortilleria factories located in Chicago. Right next door to the 26th st. cafeteria they have a store where you can purchase masa preparada or simply ground along with pre-made tortillas and tortilla chips. The cafeteria and the store always have a steady flow of people and during lunchtime Taqueria El Milagro is thee spot of choice for the officers/employees of Cook County Jail. I'm sure its also the first stop for just released inmates and former residents of it who coudlnt wait to get themsleves something other than a bologna sandwich. The food is that good and because of it the clientele is as varied as the selection of homemade tamales they offer.
I buy them by the dozen baby
I have actually known about and been eating at Taqueria El Milagro since my HS days when they had a location in Lakeview on Belmont. It closed for remodeling about six years ago if not longer and the sign still says the same thing but nothing has changed-I don't think shes coming back. So there was a time in high school when me and my friends would eat at Milagro when sober-well not drunk anyway-during the day and shit faced a later in the night over at TBP#2. I forget how we came across Milagro but we knew the first time we tried it that it was the real deal. The steak tacos were the best in the area and the tamales were the best I have ever had and still are some of the best I've had to this day. It took the closing down of the Belmont spot for me to search the internet about five years ago and find an even better cafeteria style Milagro 26th street with the same great tamales and even better food.
The grill is always flaming during the lunch hours
El Milagro has a no doubt top-5 tamale in the city
When you first walk into the place you go to your right where your greeted by the tamale menu shown above and the grill loaded with with skirt steak and you place your order with one of ladies behind the counter. You can order cafeteria style from the hot case or anything else on the menu that's made to order. The menu is splendid and valuable both up and down and considering they make the tortillas (even if its at their factory) I'm pretty sure the only thing on the menu that isn't homemade is the pop selection. I enjoy both the red and green chilaquiles and guisado selections and always have to get at least three roja tamales. You shouldn't expect there too be many tamals left after 3p though so get there early if your plan is to pick up a few dozen. Its great to have them in your fridge or buy a bunch for a party.
The best dollar you'll spend this year and next and last and ever
The other item I love at Milagro oh so much is the unorthodox steak taco. Unlike any other taco I have eaten in the city it comes with a piece of steak-yep just one piece. No there not being stingy with it-they take a hunk of skirt steak and char grill it to juicy perfection and throw the piece of cooked meat onto a tortilla spread with rice and beans and top it with a cabbage slaw. It's different and definitely my favorite taco that's not made in the traditional tacos de carne asada fashion-this is why it doesn't get ranked in the Got Beef? steak tacos ranking system. When topped with some slaw it becomes one of the best tacos anywhere and this is some of the best homestyle Mexican cooking your going to find in Chicago or Mexico-so anywhere for that matter.
disassembled steak taco
more filling than your average taco
Taqueria El Milagro
3050 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60623