-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City
There was just an excellent Chicago taco roundup or quest as others call them over on Grubstreet by Mike G who is the man behind Sky Full of Bacon. I was glad to see Taqueria La Lagartija on his list. Which I should also add was excellent in getting all over the city and not just the trendy neighborhood hot spots where hipsters like to hang and drink cans of bad beer. La Lagartija falls somewhere in between the hipster hot spots of Wicker Park and the real deal authentic grocery shops with taquerias in back found in other parts of the city. Its over on Ashland just off Ogden not too far from the United Center. When the Bulls and Blackhawks are in season this is a great place to pre-game.
Ashland Avenue near the UIC neighborhood
La Lagartija is a nice place inside with service from a waiter and they do serve drinks. But it's not priced like some other half decent inside sitdown places who up-charge because of the neighborhood their in. It's a great place for all. You might see some Mexican families dining in while some young yuppie couple do the same. The main reason its a good place for all though is because its really good. I was hesitant to try this place at first but after a few glowing reviews from people whom I trusted had good taste I made sure to get over and I've been back quite a few times since.
The kitchen here is in view of those dining in and its always a great thing when you see a big hunk of fresh al pastor meat spinning away. If I see one and thus know a places al pastor is made the authentic way I'm pretty much a guarantee to give it a try. Its not always spinning fresh like that in the pic but on weekends and nights leading up to them I know it is. During the most recent heatwave I decided to try their house chopped salad and although I don't eat much salad unless I make it at home, this was the best one I've had all year. Everything in it worked great and most importantly tasted fresh.
House Chopped Salad
The reason this place rocks in my book is it is pretty damn authentic but with the use of really good ingredients. It's all about the tacos here though, that's pretty much what they do and they do them very well. This is a good things with the use of 'Taqueria' in its name. They do burrittos too which are basically overstuffed tacos and also have really good quesadillas which are kind of like the "grilled cheese" of the taco family. They point out some specialty items on the menu including their "Volcan" which is a tostada with al pastor meat and cheese. Very good in an at home sense. Something most anyone can make at home but with their excellent authentic al pastor cone its going to be hard to replicate that.
I haven't had anything bad here or something that I would stay away from but of course theres some things that are much better than others. The carne asada is actually pretty good all things considered but I like to eat that at little shacks that specialize in it. The al pastor as mentioned is very good especially when its on the spit rolling. I like the addition of a long piece of pineapple on top. I haven't had a chance to try the alambres which are basically make your own taco plates, some of which sound great. Reason I haven't tried one of those yet is because these are the best shrimp tacos I've had outside of Mexico and maybe best overall period. As featured on the Grubstreet article these are one of my favorite tacos in the city. See ya next time at S'C'&C.
La Lagartija Taqueria
132 South Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60607