Time for another 'Specialty of the House' post where we feature local mom and pop Mexican restaurants serving dishes near and dear to their hearts. Dishes that are usually marked as "Especialidad de la Casa" on the menu. This is the fourth installment of this series. You can check out Part One HERE, Part Two HERE, and Part Three over HERE. The show goes on with Part Four.
One day while driving West on Armitage I noticed a new restaurant sign hanging right before Grand avenue. I took a look and saw 'Enchiladas Potosinas' mentioned and decided to check it out. Inside is a long counter from what was most likely an old neighborhood diner. Behind the counter are a few Mexican ladies cooking up a storm. Th specialty enchiladas here are a popular recipe coming from San Luis Potosi. While they're called enchiladas they more so mimic empanadas. Like most Mexican recipes the exact preparation and ingredients used can change but the idea is to use masa with red chile grounded in. The masa then gets filled with cheese and folded. A quick trip to the cooker where they get a nice color on the outside while the cheese melts inside. At Mina's they top theirs with more cheese and some sliced avocado and serve them rice and beans. My lunch that day would be great.
Another spot that just kind of caught my eye. This time while riding down 26th street in Little Village. I'm always on the prowl for good tamale vendors and this place seemed to fit the bill. After all thats the only thing on the menu. Your choices inside the bare bones shop are regular style or Oaxacan. I ended up grabbing one red pork and one chicken mole from the corn husked options and a red chicken wrapped in banana leaf. Result? Very good, the Oaxacan being the better style there.
Tamales in Little Village
Located in the bowels of the Southwest Suburbs don't let the name and looks of this place turn you off. Hidden in a strip mall Macho Taco is putting out some top notch tacos with the thick housemade tortillas being the focal point. They have the same filling options as most everywhere else but they do a little bit different here and there to set themselves apart. The steak is extra beefy with nice hints of char. It comes topped with pico de gallo and serrano aioli giving it it's own flavor profile. The fish is fried crisp and topped with the always reliable pickled red onions while even the chicken has flavor.
Assortment of tacos from Macho Taco
In yet another spot I saw while driving here's a place specializing in Norteno style burritos. Also somewhat hidden in a strip mall this place is worth checking out for those of us who enjoy a housemade flour tortilla from time to time. When people say burritos aren't real mexican food you have to assume they're talking about Chipotle or something because stuffing flour tortillas with different types of stewed meats is common practice in Northern Mexico. I knew I was in for something good when I saw a couple ladies behind the counter whipping out fresh made flour tortillas by the minute. I tried one with carne deshebrada and it might not look all that enticing on the eyes but it was the perfect comfort snack on the day I stopped in.
Las Gorditas de Don Angel
Located in Mexican restaurant heavy Cicero this place is putting out some top notch gorditas in the style of Santiago Papasquiaro, a city in the state of Durango. The front space is small but there's additional seating in the back where lots of families chow down on the house specialty. The menu is simple with the gorditas taking the lead role. Gorditas from the Northern States of Mexico tend to be smaller and are made with wheat flour resulting in a product that looks like pita bread and tastes like a flour tortilla. Compared to La Placita de Durango these are a bit smaller, thinner and boast more of a golden hue and thus equally as delicious. They're slit on one side then filled with various ingredients and Gorditas de Don Angel offers 19 options on their menu. Thus far the picadillo and chile posado have been real treats that I went back to the second time. Also of note are the Tacos Piratas which are another regional specialty of Northern Mexico. Made with steak, grilled onion and melted cheese as you can see they're not much different than a steak quesadilla (less cheese).
Gordita (L) Taco Pirata (R)
5046 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60639
3759 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60623
8350 S Roberts Rd
Justice, IL 60458
402 Lake St
Maywood, IL 60153
Las Gorditas De Don Angel
3000 S Laramie Ave
Cicero, IL 60804