Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Late-Nite Burgers From The Historic White Palace

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Chi

In 1939, back when the old Maxwell Market still reigned supreme, and way before you even knew what Panera Bread and DSW shoe house were, the White Palace Grill was born. One of the most recognizable restaurants in the city, it sits with the Chicago skyline to its back and has been a favorite shot for photographers in the city since its birth. It has been as much a part of Chicago as any dining establishment out there and has seen the city transform over time so its not just about the food here-its also a city landmark. During the 'hoods rebranding the developers tried to have the White Palace torn down to make way for more corporate chains and apartment unit rentals for yuppies. Luckily that didn't happen and it's been open 24 hours a day since 1939 and is to this day one of the city's unique dining experiences. Its popular at all hours of the day with police officers, doctors, college students and everyone else the city has. Its the type of diner that's been recreated in countless parts of the country but not too many out there have the history and stories of White Palace.

a familiar landmark in Chicago

The menu at the Palace is breakfast food and your usual diner fare with comfort food and a little bit of everything else. Its a pretty extensive menu and they also have daily blue plate specials. Everyone has something they like at White Palace and since there are so many options and so many daily visitors theres not much that isnt popular. Its not all about the food at White Palace but more the dining experience and history behind it. However when the clock hits 3a and then 4a and then 5a it is one of the better places in the city. It's a popular spot with all the late night party people, overnight workers and its always been a favorite of NBA players after the clubs. White Palace is where I first met Guy Fieri host of Food Network's "Diner's, Drive In's & Dives"-who I've run into randomly filming at spots in Chicago three times now. What's up maan.

While it is surrounded by corporate America-it's nothing like IHOP

One of the reasons White Palace is so popular is the extensive menu which has a bunch of nice choices where even the pickiest eater will find something they like. A few of my favorites are the usual breakfast items like bacon and eggs and omelets, the turkey club, you would never expect it but the blue plate special chicken parm is worthy of ordering (Saw that on Diners Drive In's and Dives) and of course the burger. I also will usually get a side of corned beef hash with my burger and while not homemade they do a nice job of crisping it. I would say that 7 out of 10 times I will usually go with a double cheeseburger or regular cheeseburger. While the fries are just ok, they do a good job on making a diner burger with all the fresh toppings and a deluxe meal comes with soup. Its the best your going to get when the clubs close.

CBH is not the best-but good at 3a

Deluxe Cheeseburger

Overall Grade: B-

Strengths: Its about what you should expect from a diner burger and it never fails you as a satisfying late-nite meal. The deli style pickles are loaded up on the burgers and that's a plus in my book. Its also a huge reason to explain there no reason to go to McDonalds or Taco bell when you know the Palace will always be open and always have the best burger available when the last drinks been served. Sometimes consistency is a great thing. Go with a double.

Weakness': The grade might be lower if they weren't open all night but that's not the case. Its not going to wow you and have you proclaiming it to be the best in Chicago no matter when and where but its never going to disappoint you either.

White Palace Grill
1159 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60607-4906
(312) 939-7167

Menupages Menu

White Palace Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 24, 2009

BJ's Market & Bakery

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

You may not of noticed it but summer is here and the Taste of Chicago has come and gone again and with that you also may of noted nothing about the worlds largest food festival on this site. Well that's because as a lifelong resident of the city its something I grew out of sometime in high school. Its still something that should be done by any visitor or newly transplanted resident of the city which just isn't me. One of the reasons I don't go is because I can just go to the actual restaurant and get a better prepared version of what it is I'm eating and avoid the traffic and crowds of people and urinals. I would also say that more than half of the food there-while still good-wouldn't qualify as the best of Chicago. With all that said if not for the Taste I wouldn't have grown up on the legend that is BJ's Market & Bakery in Chicago's Stoney Island.

I always did and still pay a visit to the Southside

When I was a young lad and visited the Taste with my family every summer one of my must eat items was always the mustard fried catfish from BJ's Bakery. I'm not sure how long BJ's has been a part of the Taste of Chicago but its one of the events longer tenured vendors. I'm lucky they've been a part of it so long because there's no way in hell my parents were ever going to drive all the way to a restaurant in Stoney Island so the only time I got to eat at BJ's was the Taste. The food at BJ's can only be described as family style homecooked food that comes out fast with nice heaping portions and is beat your belly good.

View from the tables

On Sundays at the Stoney Island location there is a buffet offered but other than that you walk up to the line and view the days fresh made spread which features a wide variety of items such as smothered pork, salmon steamed in mustard dill sauce, beef short ribs and whatever else is on special at the moment-after a few tough decisions you place your order and sit down and they bring it out to you in no time. Not everything on the menu is featured in the display hot case and so there is also a lunch/dinner menu that stays the same on the wall behind the counter. Items that are popular and made to order include the fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried green tomatoes and that queen of all catfish dishes-the mustard fried catfish. Also on there are rib tips, smoked chicken, turkey wings, chopped steak and a wall full of other delicious stick to your ribs foods.

The hot case is flooded with good eats

you'll want one of each...

...which is impossible so it'll keep you coming back

fried chicken with mashed

Roasted chicken with mashed and cornbread stuffing

When John Meyer-the owner and founder of BJ's-opened up his spot back in 1997 he brought with him a mustard fried catfish recipe that had been in his family forever. Its now a part of the Chicago family since it has so many fans who cant get enough of the perfectly fried catfish with no oil residue whatsoever. On top of the best piece of fried catfish you can eat there's that mustard sauce that goes with it. One bite of the two together and it feels like a 1970's Soul party is dancing away in your mouth.

Mustard fried catfish (w/ greens and mac) is my favorite dish at the Taste of Chicago

I haven't had a chance to get to BJ's for breakfast since they started serving it but if its anything like lunch and dinner and you know it is, then I better plan seven trips a week to the gym instead of just three. I always have to work out a little longer after a trip to BJs and that's because even a guy like me who's not a big on desserts knows you don't skip that course over at the market. People in Chicago looking for the real bona fide peach cobbler look no further. The buttery and sugary crust mixed with the peaches and cinnamon might make it my favorite desert in the city-if not for the banana pudding sitting right next to it. Which is my favorite desert menu item in the city of Chicago. You'll have to head on over to see for yourself.

Make 'em say mmmmm-its what they do

BJ's knows dessert

BJs Market & Bakery
8734 S Stony Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60617-2708
(773) 374-4700
Website (menu posted)

Bj's Market & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Santa Barbara: A tale of two taquerias

-Snoopin' around
a peak into my favorite food sites

Cali Mexican (Pic from: B,E0N)

The discussion of Cali Mexican food versus that of Chicago is a popular topic on this site. With it are many looks into different popular taquerias around Chicago but I haven't been able to get to California to try any Mexican there just yet. Here is a peak into two very popular taco stands located in Santa Barbara, California as documented by Tuens. Click here to check it out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ferro's Beef

--Got Beef? Italian Beef
as seen on 'What's Your Beef?'

Ferro's is one of those places that almost everyone has seen while driving southbound on the Dan Ryan. It sits on the corner of 31st in Bridgeport overlooking the highway and is the definition of a street and sans type eating spot. I have been to Ferro's maybe five or six times in my life but had not been there in over three years until early this past month. I figured then and there was as good of a time as ever to check it out for the beef blog.

familiar sight along the Dan Ryan?

I swear that nothing had changed since the last time I was in there. Same people eating the same things and same people behind the counter making them. Its all in the area over at this place. The menu is about as broad as you can get for a Chicago style fast food joint. It includes all the regulars like beef, dogs, breaded steak and sausage along with burgers and all things breakfast. It doesn't try to be anything but what it is and that's a good place to get a quick, cheap and filling meal. Its been serving the blue collar people of the area for as long as I've been around. While the menu list is long and takes a half day to read there are only two things I have ever gotten-Italian beef and Italian Ice.

As far as Italian ice goes this is some of the best to be had in the city. Its a damn shame they only have it for 3 months of the year because its good enough to eat in the winter. All flavors are made with fresh fruit so there's lots of chunks of whatever flavor you get. The most important thing to a good Italian ice is fresh fruit and lots of it but the next most important thing is the consistency of the ice. Its perfect at Ferro's so that its a smooth texture with no clumps whatsoever. It just might be the best Italian ice in the city of it.

Cantelope Ice is perfect on a hot day before or after a Sox game

Now I had remembered enjoying the beef on my last visit but that had to be at least five years ago if not longer. I wish I could say the same for my most recent visit but it was nothing to write home about and I live just a few miles down over on the Northside. What it did have going for it was it being some of the thinnest sliced beef I've come across since keeping score. Unfortunately that was about all it had going. The gravy was without a doubt straight from a metal can and tasted like it was made with boullin cubes and not the actual drippings from a roast beef. Which is probably because they don't make the beef in house. The hot peppers and bread were ok but that's it...just ok. I will stick with the Italian ice which is some of the best anywhere.

beef with hot from Ferro's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 3
bread: 3
gravy: 1
hot peppers: 3

Score: 10/20

200 W 31st St
Chicago, IL 60616-3702
(312) 842-0702

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2 for 1 Milwaukee Special: Kopp's & Koppa's

-Got beef?
The Burgers of Wisconsin

When one takes a trip to Wisconsin and consumes massive amounts of cheese, sausage and beer they probably think they completed the list for regional eats but they forgot a few things. As much a part of the Sconnie diet as those three items are-so happen to be burgers and custard. Anyone who's been to the state and other parts of the Midwest has most likely passed quite a few Culver's fast food outlets (started in Wisconsin) known for their butter burgers and custard. While Culver's is good and an alright choice if you need a quick bite off the highway-there are so many other spots in Wisconsin with a few locations here and there that take the burger/custard combo to another level. The leader of this pack has got to be Kopp's. Its been that way since 1950 when they first started making the Wisconsin treat.

In 'n Out wishes it could compete with Kopp's

Kopp's has three locations in and near Milwaukee and is always a to-do on my list when I visit. If the different style of futuristic architecture isn't pleasing enough on the eyes then the burgers and custard certainly will be. I'm not a big fan of desert and prefer Italian Ice and fruit based ones to ice cream and milk based but I do love me some frozen custard. Wisconsin is the land of custard and Kopp's is King according to most locals I've talked too. Why is it better than ice cream? well its typically made with eggs, cream, sugar and of course butter. Only in Wisconsin do they load the butter on any and everything and Kopp's is a testament to that tradition. While 99 out of 100 people that go into Kopp's get custard about 95 out of 100 also go for the food-the burgers to be exact.

Beef...its whats for dinner

Kopp's is one of the peoples of Milwaukee's favorite places to eat and because of this there has been times when I was in there and there were 300+ people waiting in the various lines inside. Its a real summertime destination as there is no dining area inside-just a large park like area outside where people sit down and eat. The parking lot is large and goes around the shack in a circle where you are greeted by 100's of cow statues and there is no drive thru. Its a park, get your food, eat and go process that's all part of the charm. I am always shocked by how smooth and on time they get the orders taken and made which is no small feat since it gets real packed and the burgers are made fresh to order.

fries are better than most so I usually order them

cheeseburger with 30's style toppings (pickles, mustard and Kopps fried onions)

The jumbo burgers, which are standard, need to be eaten with two hands at first and at $3.60 its about the same price as the Whopper and Big Mac and it couldn't be further apart in quality and taste than those two. While I find the beef at Kewpee's to still be the best tasting beef in state-the fresh meat here is still much better than most places. What makes Kopp's burgers a contender when it comes to best in Wisconsin-a state full of 5 star burger spots-is the bun and the toppings. Wisconsin just doesn't mess around when it comes to their burgers and they take every facet of them seriously. The buns at Fred's burger and Kopp's are the best I have ever had and take both of them to a higher level than they already were. The topping list at Kopp's is also just perfect. It includes ketchup, mustard, raw onions, fried onions, relish, lettuce, pickles, mayo, tomatoes, hot sauce, jalapenos, bleu cheese and salsa. Butter is standard on every burger...even plain. If that's not enough they also offer Wisconsin's own Nueske's bacon crisped to perfection.

cheeseburger with just about everything including the best bacon anywhere

Butter Burgers

Grasshopper Custard in a cup

-Grubbing in Milwaukee
Where the locals eat.

When you first glance at Koppa's it looks as though its just another independent grocery store. While it is an independent family owned joint, its not your normal corner store. Going on 25 years now the people of Milwaukee have made Koppa's and the fulbeli deli inside-one of the eating treasures in the area. Located right near the UW-Milwaukee campus in the East Side neighborhood it is a very popular spot with the college kids and everyone from the neighborhood.

What a neighborhood grocery store should be like

Koppa's is just like any other mom and pop grocery store as far as looks and shelved goods go but they shine in other spots. You can find fresh meat, nice fresh looking/tasting produce, some unique grocery items you wont find at many other spots, a great selection of beer and wine and one of the best deli's in any grocery store around. You will find humorous advertising slogans and on occasion, public posting of those who chose to write bad checks. Its really, one of the coolest little grocery spota I have ever been too anywhere. Its easy to see why this place is so popular with the UW students seeing as though they have everything a college student could want. Students get beer, groceries like cereal and chips, lunch, snacks and toiletries all in one quick stop.

Fluffernutter sammys and whoopie pies for the college kids

There's nothing that feels like a corporate grocery store here

Check out the display case of old time Wisconsin beer cans

On top of the really nice beer selection and fresh produce the real star of Koppa's is the deli aka The Fulbeli deli. The deli which is known for its out of this word sandwiches of which many are named after a planet or something in the solar system. One of the hardest decisions to make is what sandwich to get. The sandwich choices are endless and so are the ways they prepare them. You want a cold cut double decker? got 'em, subs? got 'em, Hodag breakfast sandwiches? got those too, Veggie delights, grilled specialties and signature sandwiches? check, check and check. The option of several breads is there and all sorts of condiments and fresh sliced deli meats make it a real Wisconsin gem.The only problem you'll have when visiting is what sandwich to get.

its not hype, Koppa's does it right

Koppa's has signature sandwiches like the Bread Favre which consists of shaved Cajun turkey breast, sharp cheddar, bacon, avocado, red onion, lettuce, tomato, mayo and dressing on a fresh baked roll. Pair that with Koppa’s seasoned fries and you’re good to go. Want an Elvis? you guessed it-it's a fried PB and banana sandwich. As if Koppa's wasn't unique enough in its own right-it gets even more so as you wait for your sandwich to be made. Directly across the aisle from the deli counter is an employee donated Atari system with over 50 games to play. So as your waiting for your handmade sandwich to be crafted just plop down into the lazy boy chairs and play some video games while you wait.

A rimpish-ham, turkey, tomato, onion, lettuce, mayo, bacon and secret sauce

Pinkowski-shaved pastrami, Swiss cheese, red onions & spicy mustard on marble rye

The Eastside neighborhood is so chill that I almost considered subletting a spot there this summer-just so I could have a place to chill in Milwaukee. Between the bars, food stops like Koppa's and the beautiful blonde's running around everywhere, there's not much more I could ask for. When someone asks my favorite Midwest city other than Chicago its an easy answer-Milwaukee. Its also one of my favorites cities in the country. Great eating, real boozing with a great bar scene and did I mention the hordes of gorgeous thick blonde females?

Kopp's Frozen Custard
5373 N Port Washington Rd
Milwaukee, WI 53217
(414) 961-3288

3 locations

Kopp's Frozen Custard Stand (River Parkway) on Urbanspoon

Koppa's Farwell Foods
1940 N Farwell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202-1410
(414) 273-1273
Website w/Deli menu

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Veg-Mex Fajitas

-Redeye Chicago Virtual Kitchen Stadium

Here we are a week later in round 3 of Redeye's virtual kitchen stadium competition. Last week both sets of brackets were given fruits (cherries and Tamarind) as the secret ingredient and chibbqking advanced with a vote from Rick Bayless-so four remain of the eight total. This week the chairwoman threw what looked to be a 82 mph fast ball with no movement whatsoever right over the plate when she announced the secret ingredient over the redeye munchtime twitter page was...alcohol. But upon further review it was a nasty curveball when she announced it had to be a vegetarian dish. Dairy, eggs and cheese were allowed but no red meat, seafood, chicken animal/crustacean flesh whatsoever. I think that I at least made contact and might of hit a double with warning track power with her pitch so let me know what you think.

Redeye Virtual Kitchen Stadium Cookoff

Secret Ingredient: alcohol (vegetarian dish)

When I first read the secret ingredient I was oh so very head started dancing with ideas, I thought about Caribbean rum glazed barrel cooked chicken, shrimp de jonghe, hell I could of entered my award winning chili since I use beer in it. I was ready to do something BIG. I was so excited that at first I didn't even read on and then when I looked at my twitter page and saw that my opponent had posted that he loved the secret ingredient but wanted to know what was up with it being veggie only? So then I knew it was too good to be true...I need to cook a veg-head dish? no red meat?!?!? no seafood? no chicken? no animals at all?

You read the site! its rare that when a recipe is posted that it includes only one meat and not two or three of them.

I needed to put something together that I know I would eat. I rarely eat a meal without meat-hell I dont ever eat a snack without meat and so I decided to do a rendition of one of the only all veggie meals I can stand to eat...fajitas. Just like everything else vegetables taste better when grilled and fire is used in cooking them. Add in some refried beans, sour cream, salsa and whatever else floats your boat and throw it all on a fresh grilled tortilla and it becomes edible. The best part about this recipe is you can use your favorite veggies or whatever is fresh and in season at your local farmers market.

A popular marinade for chicken fajitas is anything lime and tequila based so for my marinade I decided to whisk together both lime juice, tequila for the alcohol, salsa verde for kick, cilantro and some shallots, spices and marinate my assortment of fresh vegetables in it. I then would char grill the veggies place them on a tortilla layered in bean spread and serve it with a fried egg, rice and a light corn salad, rum glazed fruit kebabs and a Michelada to soak it all down.

Rum Glazed fruit Kebabs

medium sized diced assortment of fruit
-mangos, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries
cinnamon sugar
soaked skewers

for the glaze combine one part water, one part sugar and boil until sugar dissolves. Cool down and add one part rum.

^Load skewers with fruit and brush with glaze and grill immediately until charred edges show. Make these immediately after charring veggies for fajitas. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve warm.

KingT's Veg-Mex Fajitas

assortment of fresh bell peppers (red, orange, green, yellow) Cut in strips
jalapeno peppers- cut in strips
zucchini- cut in coins
green onions- cut in 4 inch pieces
white mushrooms-quartered
poblano peppers-roasted over charcoal, peeled and cut in strips
few ears of shucked sweet corn
flour tortillas
refried bean spread
Mexican crema

Fire-Teq-Lime-Cilantro Marinade

1/2 cup salsa verde
2 oz. tequila
2 oz lime juice
1 shallot-finely minced
5 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp fajita seasoning

^Whisk everything together and set aside.

^Place all chopped veggies, whole poblanos and shucked ears of corn in a bowl and pour marinade over top and toss to coat.

Let sit for anywhere from an hour to two hours. About 45 minutes before you want to put them on the grill set the grill and make sure you use a vegetable basket to char the veggies so the pieces dont fall thru the grates.

^First thing to go onto the grill when ready are your whole pieces of sweet corn and poblano peppers-roast both until done. Place poblano in a paper bag and seal it so no air gets out and let sit for 30-45 minutes.

^After sitting-take out poblano, scrape off the skin and cut into strips. Stand corn on one end and with a knife top to bottom scrape off the kernels and throw them in a bowl with poblano strips.

^Grill your veggies until nice and charred about 15-20 minutes-and place them in the bowl with poblano strips and corn kernels and mix everything together.

Take a grilled warm tortilla and layer it with refried beans and place veggies on top and serve with salsa or hot sauce and crema as fajita toppings. Mexican rice and corn salad a sides. Place your fruit kebabs on the side.

Fried egg optional-I had to get something manly in there.

Any Mexican beer with a lime or a nice Michelada (Mexican bloody Mary) will do for a nice beverage to go with your meal.

^Enjoy on a nice summer day.

Get over to this link HERE and vote for me thru Thursday morning. The contestant eliminated by Chef Bayless with the most votes gets to come back Leave votes for Titus/chibbqking in the comments section. Holladay.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sarkis come's to the City

-The Sammy's of Chi

In case you haven't heard the news by now-the Evanston breakfast institution Sarkis is opening up here in Lincoln Park. Sarks in the Park as it will be called will be in the downstairs corridor at 444 W. Fullerton pkwy at the corner of Fullerton and Clark st. The original location located on Gross Point rd. in Evanston is a place I have been going to since Sarkis himself ran the joint. You might remember that everything on the menu was five bucks, no matter what. It wasn't run like your normal IHOP. I would always get pretty much the same thing but the price always varied.

a familiar sign to any suburbanite and even some city folk

Sarkis has been going strong for over 40 years now and if you go or went to high school at Loyola, New Trier, ETHS or anywhere in the Northshore then you probably spent a few Saturday and Sunday mornings eating at Sarkis and soaking up the beer and soco lime shots from the big keg party the night before. The joint was sold by Sarkis-a character if there ever was one-a little while back but the food and clientele remain the same.

The flattop is always loaded with food

I got to be there when the character himself was cuddling up cozy with the HS girls and speaking loud enough to be heard over a dining room crowded full of teenagers. The reason its always crowded is because they pump out a mean breakfast that can only be eaten when one is ready to lay down and do nothing with the rest of their morning. Sometimes you feel like Sarkis, sometimes you don't. Although the sign boasts the worlds best omelettes-which quite a few people order-the signature items at this grease cafe are the sandwiches. The Loretta sandwich is a six-inch loaf of French bread split down the middle buttered, toasted. You then have choice of meat (ham, bacon, sausage), melted cheese and cubed peppers, onions, and tomatoes sprinkled with some house spice. One of the finest breakfast sandwiches in Chicagoland and now Chicago.

Bacon Lorreta sandwich

You can make it a disaster sandwich by using the popular disaster sausage as your meat. Its heavily spiced Armenian flat-bar style sausage that is quite good but not as spicy as I remember. It comes available as a disaster plate-with eggs and hash browns-or in a sandwich. Its pretty much a 50/50 split decision as far as what I order between the two.

disaster sandwich and hash browns with cheese

Its not too often you'll get into the small dining area and be able to sit comfortably due to the fact its actually a place where kids in the suburbs hang out...I know. However I must say that since its the same food and it was one of my favorite dining destinations when I traveled to HS from the city to the suburbs back in the day. It was one of the very few things that made it worth going out there. The sandwiches are offered with hash browns which are mediocre at best. You can enhance the flavor like I do by adding cheese and soaking them up in hot sauce. I have yet to find any other place on the globe that makes anything like a Loretta sandwich. Sarki made it an institution with his love him or hate him type personality but the food was always good and it still is. It makes sense they would open a location in LP since everyone that went to HS or grew up in the Northshore is now a young urban professional in Lincoln Park. You can read more about the venture here.

Sarkis Cafe
2632 Gross Point Rd
Evanston, IL 60201-4965
(847) 328-9703

Sarks in the Park
444 W. Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614
Opening July '09

Sarkis Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Top Notch Taco's & Tamale's

-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
(773) 847-9407‎

Taqueria El Milagro on Urbanspoon


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