With Cinco de Mayo here I thought now would be a good time to get the second part of this ongoing series up. Join me as I set out to find the specialty's of the house at Chicago's mom and pop mexican spots. Check out Part One HERE.
Popular stop with locals in the West Lawn Neighborhood
You don't have to search too hard to figure out what the specialty of the house is here. It's listed right under their name on the awning outside. Tortas Ahogadas are a regional dish from the state of Jalisco. They're particularly popular in the big city of Guadalajara and like hot dogs here, they're very popular at soccer games there. The reason the use of drowned (Ahogada) is included in their name is the fact the sandwich is drowned in a red chile sauce. At Las Picosas they use a mild tomato and chile based sauce but supply a bottle of extra hot sauce on the side for you to add on as you please. Inside the sandwich is a layer of carnitas that are topped with sliced red onions and at Las Picosas they give you a little taco dorado de papa to go with it. Stop in on a Tuesday or Wednesday and get one for just $4. A personal favorite of mine.
Another Popular Stop on Pulaski in West Lawn
You know that self proclaimed "food expert" every comment section has? Yeah me too. Well next time he/she tries to tell you how un-authentic burritos are, say to them, "I guess you've never eaten Norteno Mexican food" That'll humble them down a bit. Because while its true they dont eat burritos like those found at Chipotle in Mexico, there are places where the burrito is a staple in the diet. Juarez is a city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and it's there that Norteno burritos are eaten daily. These are just large flour tortillas which are stuffed with your meat of choice, that's it. There is no sour cream or cheese and you can easily eat more than one. At Burritos Juarez they make all the fillings from scratch according to the owners mothers recipes and I always eat at least two when in need of a quick snack and riding by.
Carne Desebrada en Salsa Verde_______________________________________
El Taco Feliz
Semi Newly Opened Spot on Addison just west of the highway
I hope all my loyal readers over here have been keeping up with the Chicago Taco Tour over there. I've been uncovering some real gems and one of my favorites thus far is this little shack in an old fried shrimp shop. Here's what I had to say "A hand written sign of Cochinita estilo Guerrero on the window is what got me in and I was greeted by one of the sweetest ladies I've encountered on the trail. Cochinita in Guerrero isnt as well known as the Pibil variety from the Yucatán. Here five different types of dried chiles marinate a pork roast which cooks until fall apart tender. Its the first meat mentioned in the taco section of the menu. It's also the owners grandmothers famous recipe which she used to sell on the streets back in Guerrero. The final result is both sweet and spicy. They're supposed to be eaten as is but she said she would put onions on it for me. End result was awesome."
Cochinita Estilo Guerrero_______________________________________
Los Tamales Oaxaquenos
Sensational Strip Mall Dining in Des Plaines
I'd driven past this place a few times and was always intrigued enough to try it but each time I had been coming from somewhere else, this is a pretty common occurrence for me. Time went by and I kind of forgot about it until a buddy over at LTHforum posted praise for the place. It still took me forever to get there but I did so recently and loved my first trip so much I was back there two days later. This is the definition of a family run spot, mostly ladies and their recipes are sensational. The namesake Oaxacan tamales are homemade daily and in case you didn't know they're traditionally made steamed in banana leaves. Because they're also made with broth, these tend to me moister than the more well known corn husk tamales. They're available in both green and red (chicken) and it's an absolute must to order some of their house mole on the side. It's my new favorite condiment in Chicago and it's obvious from my visits I'm not the only one that loves it.
Amazing Mole Sauce and Oaxacan Style Tamales_______________________________________
Main Street, USA (Downers Grove)
The final specialty of the house featured will actually be a Mexican-American item found throughout San Diego. Carne Asada fries are the late night choice of both surfers and blue collar workers alike. No they didnt originate in Mexico but they do come from taquerias and restaurants run by Mexican families and such. Thus don't tell me the dish isn't authentic, tell that to the people that are making it alongside the same things you'd call authentic. Who cares because these are fantastic and something that most everyone would enjoy, whether they want to admit it or not. Alfredo's in Downers Grove is the only place I know where they're making this popular Southern California dish and as you can imagine it's a popular menu item. They take fresh cut fries and pile them with chopped skirt steak, the next layer is a huge dollop of fresh made guacamole followed with shredded cheese and and some sour cream to boot. Limes come served on the side and Alfredo's adds on their own touch of sliced jarred bell peppers to give it a little extra tang. I take no shame in saying I enjoyed them.
Carne Asada Fries_______________________________________
6430 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60629
5935 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60629
El Taco Feliz Taqueria
5439 W. Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60641
Los Tamales Oaxaqueños
782 W Oakton St
Des Plaines, IL
5231 Main St
Downers Grove, IL 60515