Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Carne en su Jugo from Pop's Malt Shoppe

-Smokin' Bowls of Soup
eating like a Mayan king in the Windy City

Over here at S'C&C we get many hits thru search sites. One of the most common terms that is searched for that leads people to S'C&C is "carne en su jugo" usually searched under google images. Go ahead search it and see for yourself. Well I cant tell you much about the history of my next stop on the CESJ tour, thats because there's not much about it on the internet and I couldn't communicate well with the super warm owners due to my lack of Spanish spoken. What I can tell you though is that winter is around the corner. That means that CESJ season is just about here. I thought I would share a place called Pop's Malt Shoppe with my loyal readers. I found it near the end of winter last February and from what I hear its still in business. I cant wait to get back.

On the corner just across from a school on 22nd place in Pilsen

I found Pop's Malt Shoppe while taking a side street to avoid traffic. When I drove by I noticed the sign on the door advertising carne en su jugo. I decided to pull over and try their version right then and there. Now I know I said that very little was known about this place but I'm guessing the family that runs it is from the Jalisco state of Mexico. The soup is not a dish that is common on the menus of the 1,000's of Mexican joints around Chicagoland. Its usually made by restaurants who's family's are from the Jalisco state which is where it is popular. Aside from the soup, Pop's also does steak tacos, sub sandwiches named after Archie characters, pretty random I know, Italian beef, nachos along with ice cream and malt drinks.

The sandwich menu at Pop's...don't not get the CESJ

My meal started off with a complimentary chips and salsa. Now that's pretty sweet considering this is a mom and pop ice cream shop who I'm pretty sure caters to the kids that go to the grade school across the street. The chips were better than good and the salsa was also very flavorful. It was easy to tell that both were made in house.

Pop's fresh fried tortilla chips

About five minutes after the chips and salsa came out, the soup followed. I don't remember it being the best bowl I ever had or liking it more than Los Gallos but I thought it was pretty damn good. I also hear that Los Gallo's isn't as good anymore. The soup at Pop's had a redder broth than any other I've had and it had some really good spice to it. The best part was the extra crispy pieces of bacon. The part I didn't enjoy as much as the rest was the steak which was either boiled or griddled and then tossed in. I prefer the steak to be char-grilled and then chopped up and dumped in. I posted about Pop's over at LTH and the man (Pigmon) who introduced me to CESJ went and tried it for himself. He replied on the thread that "To be perfectly honest, walking into a Mexican ice cream parlor with Archie posters plastered all over its walls and not a soul in sight doesn’t exactly give you much confidence about its future prospects..."

carne en su jugo from Pop's malt shoppe in Pilsen

Pigmon would go on to say that "However, looks can sometimes be deceiving and in this case, it certainly least as far as the CESJ goes. I’m not going to say it was in the upper echelons of carne en su jugo to be had but it was better than most I’ve tried. The broth (mine today was the common beef/ brown-colored variety) was clearly a nice in-house effort with a subtle marrow, beefiness to it and little or no suggestion of powdered bouillon added. It was a bit salty but that’s per usual with most CESJs since they often add loads of bacon. I always forget to ask them to half the amount for this very reason. I also thought the guts of the soup was quite respectable (boiled then superflash-grilled meat, bacon, and an appropriate quantity of pintos) while I never care for when the place takes the liberty of adding the condiments for you (radish, avocado, onion, chile de arbol, etc.)."

He then added "I would definitely return to the Malt Shoppe for a retry but worry about its chances of survival." Get over there this winter if your in the neighborhood and get yourself a bowl of carne en eu jugo and help them out. You'll be warmed up in no time and have done your good deed for the day. I still don't get how people eat at Chipotle and Taco Bell when they live in a city so rich in great Mexican eats.

Hidden underneath the broth and toppings

Pop's Malt Shoppe
2100 W 22nd Pl
Chicago, IL 60608-4051
(312) 823-1245

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