Category: Restaurant by Name

Guacamole… Valle de Guadalupe Style A Recipe by Chef Bossuet

 

Photo Credit: Lozhka Bistrot

Photo Credit: Lozhka Bistrot

 

This is one of my favorite souvenirs to our trip to Valle de Guadalupe in Septembter.

Yields 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 pieces avocado (Hass)
  • 1 cup of brunoise Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of Serrano fresh chili
  • 2 tbs of cilantro finely chopped
  • 4 tbs of lime juice
  • Salt t.t.
  • 1/2 cup of table grapes cut in half
  • 1/3 cup of fresh ranchero cheese

Directions

  • In a bowl add the mashed avocado pulp, and mix the tomato, onion,  chili, lime juice and salt.
  • Add ranchero cheese and grapes on top.
  • Enjoy with fresh corn tortilla or tortilla chips.
  • Pair with Rosayoff, Bibayoff
Chef Bossuet´s Kitchen at Loshka Bistort

Chef Bossuet´s Kitchen at Loshka Bistort

Celebrated Mexican chef  José Bossuet Martinez,  former Executive Chef of Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox,  is member of the world’s most prestigious association   “Le Club des Chefs des Chefs”, which exclusive membership is reserved for those who are personal chefs of heads of state.

Today, chef Bossuet treats lucky patrons ´like kings´ at Lozhka Bistrot in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California and Café Contento in Guanajuato. José Bossuet is an author, an educator and an extraordinary representative of Mexican gastronomy. Beyond that, he is a proud showcase of Mexico’s ingenuity, its entrepreneurship, its heart and its undeniable talent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Estampas de Mi Ciudad – If Life Gives you a Cactus, Make Salsa

Photo: Manuel Rivera

If you are in Mexico, chances are that you will find cacti in your dish. As surreal as it may seem, Cacti have been an element of  Mesoamerican cuisine since pre-Columbian times.  Nopales and tunas, also known as “prickly pear cactus” and “prickly pear fruit”  in the US, can be easily found today as an ingredient in  sweet and savory dishes and drinks ranging from tacos to sherbet. The jiotillas or xoconostles in the picture, for example, can be turned into a smoothie or a refreshing drink.

Find a delicious recipe for a salsa made with this fascinating and healthy ingredient, here.

Potaje SanMiguelense – La Receta del Chef José Bossuet

Photo: Cortesía de José Bossuet, Café Contento.

Photo: Cortesía de Café Contento

 

Por: José Bossuet

La gastronomía de San Miguel de Allende sigue la nueva tendencia de orgullo comunitario: “la cocina orgánica sustentable” que promueve el uso de productos regionales que se unen para actuar y enaltecer los sabores de la tierra.

En esta cocina se funden los sabores típicos del desierto con la bondad del bajío y los toques de ultramar.

El platillo típico de esta región es el estofado de chile seco con garbanzo y nopales morados. Nacido del maíz  y vegetales del desierto, este plato posteriormente se matizó con los sabores de los potajes criollos y el cultivo del garbanzo.

Potaje SanMiguelense

Guisado de Garbanzos y Nopales Morados en Guajillo

Sirve 8 porciones

Ingredientes

  • 2 tazas de garbanzos cocidos
  • 2 tazas de nopales morados en juliana
  • 1/3 taza hojas de cilantro
  • 2 tazas salsa guajillo
  • Sal al gusto.

Preparación y montaje

  1. Coloca todos los ingredientes en una olla y cocina a fuego bajo por una hora, sazona al final.
  2. Sirve caliente en recipiente hondo.

Salsa de Chile Guajillo

  • 5 pzas chile guajillo sin semilla
  • ¼ taza cebolla
  • 1 cucharadita de ajo
  • ½ taza jitomate guaje en cubos medianos
  • 2 tazas de agua
  • Sal al gusto

Preparación:

  1. Cocina todos los ingredientes por espacio de 30 minutos.
  2. Muele, cuela, sazona y reserva
Chef José Bossuet

Chef José Bossuet

El chef  José Bossuet Martinez, es miembro de la prestigiosa asociación gastronómica “Club de Chefs de Chefs”, mismo que admite exclusivamente a los chefs de cocina que sirven a reyes, reinas, príncipes, jefes de estado y de gobierno.

Bossuet fungió como Chef Ejecutivo de la Presidencia de la República al mando de la cocina del ex-presidente Vicente Fox, en donde tuvo a su cargo la comitiva del avión presidencial, viajando con el presidente en la giras internacionales.

Hoy, ya no es necesario ser funcionario o aristocracia para comer como si lo fueramos. ¿Estás en San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato? Pues estás de suerte. Visita al Chef Bossuet en su Café Contento y también próximamente en Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Californa en Lozhka Bistrot (junio del 2014).

 

Bueno, Bonito y Barato: El Nuevo Menú de Olive Garden

 

Pollo Abruzzi: Deliciosa y Sana Opción del Nuevo Menú de Olive Garden Foto: Brenda Storch

Pollo Abruzzi: Deliciosa y Sana Opción del Nuevo Menú de Olive Garden Foto: Brenda Storch

Chicago es una ciudad con muchísimas opciones para comer bien, el único pero, es que si uno decide residir en los suburbios, frecuentemente estas opciones se reducen considerablemente.

Olive Garden siempre ha estado entre mis restaurantes suburbanos favoritos, con sus platillos preparados con ingredientes frescos y de buena calidad. Me gusta mucho su ambiente familiar: me recuerda a los restaurantes en México en el que muchas generaciones se reúnen a comer, lo que por estas latitudes es algo fuera de lo común.  También es aquí donde me pongo al corriente con mis verduras, porque usualmente pido berenjena a la parmesana  y la ensalada me encanta. Por fortuna, un Olive Garden seguro siempre está cerca de casa.

Hace unas semanas Darden me invitó a probar el nuevo menú que Olive Garden debutó en marzo. Como de por sí este restaurante me gusta, pues no me hice del rogar. Quedé sorprendida, porque mi presupuesto de $25 dólares fue más que suficiente para comer con todo y botana, ensalada, y postre. Por ejemplo, entre los nuevos platillos, está Cucina Mia, en el que uno puede escoger pasta, salsa y una opción de carne por solo $9.99.

Yo me decidí a probar el Pollo Abruzzi:  pechuga de pollo a la parrilla en un caldo preparado a fuego lento con frijoles, col y verduras. Este plato vino acompañado con mi ensalada favorita. También pedí como botana unas bolitas de risotto inspiradas en las arancini italianas y por supuesto, no me salté el postre.

Desde luego que, como se imaginarán, quedé fascinada con el nuevo menú. Aunque la verdad, no me esperaba menos. Ví unas alitas de pollo picantes que se me antojaron, pero por esas regreso a la próxima.

 

 

Nota: Olive Garden nos proporcionó una muestra del menú, pero las opiniones aquí expresadas son independientes y exclusivas del autor.

 

Flock to the Shepherd -The Charismatic Taco al Pastor

Photo: El Califa, Mexico City

Photo courtesy of: El Califa, Mexico City

RUTA MEXICANA

Whenever I visit Mexico, there is an additional ‘layover’ between the airport and my parents’ home in a suburb of Mexico City. Stopping for tacos al pastor or ‘shepherd-style’ tacos has become somewhat of an unspoken ritual. Luckily, no matter the time or day of the year, my sister is always prepared with a roster of recommendations that she has carefully curated in my absence. Count on her to rattle off an impressive selection that includes taquerías open on Christmas Day.

Despite the fact that taco stands abound, not all tacos are made equal. Ask any local. Finding the perfect taquería is almost a rite of passage for defeños*, one that speaks to the way we connect with our city and beyond- a Mexican’s relationship with their pastor is emotional… personal.

Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico

Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico

When Enrico came with me to Mexico for the first time, he joined me in our recently established ritual. We visited a corner taquería where my family knew Chucho*, the taquero. Enrico was a little nervous as he eyed the cilantro and the onion piling over the tender marinated pork meat and pineapple. As a tourist who visits Mexico for the first time, Enrico asked me if the food was safe to eat. Trying to leverage whatever I could think of to reassure him, I said, “You will be fine. The taquero’s name is Jesus!”

He was an instant convert.

I have yet to find a perfect spot in Chicago to have tacos al pastor. Recently, I was crushed to find that some places serve them with cubed meat. I am on a mission to find a place I can recommend!

In the meantime, if you have the good fortune to be in Mexico City, you must check out El Califa. Aside from their outstanding customer service, they are famous for the way they serve the meat and for their freshly-made tortillas.

You will see why I think that this taco is king.

* Defeño is a Citizen of Mexico City (D.F.)

**In Mexico, Chucho is short for Jesús, which is a fairly common name

EL CALIFA 

Altata 22, Col. Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico 

Click here to find additional locations

Hours: Mon. thru  Sun. 1:00 p.m. –  4:00 a.m. 

Para este Día de la Candelaria, Tamales de Mango del Chef Paco

Tamales con queso de cabra, chipotle y salsa de mango como solo en New Rebozo.

Tamales con queso de cabra, chipotle y salsa de mango como solo en New Rebozo. Foto: Brenda Storch

Ya se acerca el Día de la Candelaria, y para ponerle un toque original a la tamaliza, les traemos esta receta del Chef Paco, dueño del conocido restaurante New Rebozo, en Chicago.

El Chef Paco generosamente nos compartió esta receta para hacer estos deliciosos tamales de queso de cabra y chipotle con salsa de mango. ¡Que los disfruten!

Masa

  • 1 kilo de masa blanca de maíz para tamal
  • 1   1/2 tazas de caldo pollo o agua
  • 1  taza de aceite de olivo
  • 1 cucharada de sal
  • 150 gr. de queso de cabra
  • 1 cucharadita de salsa de chile chipotle
  • 35 rectángulos de hoja de tamal de unos 18 x 15 cm.

Salsa

  • 2 mangos, pelados y cortados en cubitos
  • 1 chile jalapeño
  • 1/2 cebolla picada
  • 1/3 pimiento rojo finamente picado
  • 1/3 pimiento amarillo finamente picado
  • 1/2 manojo de cilantro cortado en pedazos pequeños
  • Sal y pimienta al gusto

Pon lo ingredientes en un recipiente hondo y mézclalos hasta que estén bien incorporados.

Preparación:

  • Mezcla la masa en el caldo hasta que quede incorporado todo. Prueba la sazón.
  • Con una cuchara sopera, pon en el centro de la hoja la masa, el queso de cabra y el chile chipotle.
  • Envuélvelo como un burrito de 5 x 7 centímetros. Salen como 36 tamalitos.
  • Prepara la vaporera con agua, pon los tamales y tápala.
  • Pón los tamales a cocer con flama alta.  Una vez que empiece a salir el vapor, baja la flama a fuego medio y deja cocinar durante alrededor de 50 minutos.
  • Déja reposar los tamales hasta servirlos con la salsa.

Oh My God!

Receta publicada con el permiso del autor. 

Recipe: Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)

 

Photo courtesy of Red Stag

Photo courtesy of Red Stag Hardcore Cider

Jonathan Zaragoza found his way into his destiny babysitting for his parents while they worked. “I saw how my mother and grandmother cooked at home and I had to quickly learn so that I could prepare meals for my siblings,” said Zaragoza. At the age of 12, he learned from his dad how to make birria tatemada, a Jalisco staple served at his family’s restaurant, and even how to butcher whole animals. 

Now a rising star with several accolades under his belt, Jonathan Zaragoza says when asked about his career, “I was not looking for the kitchen. The kitchen found me.”

Appointed Executive Chef at Logan Square’s Masa Azul since 2012, the Chicago native taps into his Jalisco roots to bring to life Mexican-inspired dishes with a creative twist. To a nostalgic transplant like me, his dishes come across as a loving interpretation of a Mexican mother’s cookbook through the lens of a young Chicago urbanite- respectful, yet bold and accurately original.

Recently, Jim Beam tapped into Zaragoza’s talent to create an incredible menu crafted to introduce their new flavor-infused bourbon, Red Stag by Jim Beam® Hardcore Cider. Luckily for us at La Vitamina T, we were treated to a phenomenal dinner featuring small plates and pairings, of which we have secured the recipes. If you don’t like or have never tried bourbon before, you might just become a fan.  Below is the first one of a magnificent series. Enjoy!

Frijoles Borrachos

  • 4 cups dried pinto beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8oz applewood smoked bacon, sliced
  • 6 oz chorizo, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 12 quarts of water
  • 1 can of Mexican beer
  • ½ cup Jim Beam Hardcore Cider
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a large pot, combine beans, water, beer and Jim Beam Hardcore Cider and cook over medium heat until all the beans are tender (about 2 hours).
  2. In a separate pan, combine the oil, bacon and chorizo and cook meats until crispy. Remove the meat from the pan leaving the rendered fat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and serrano chiles into the pan and cook until slightly caramelized (about 12 mins).
  4. Once the beans are tender, fold in the crispy meat, caramelized vegetables, and the tomatoes and cilantro, and cook for 10 mins so the flavors can marry.
  5. Finally, season with salt.
La Vitamina T was invited to an event sponsored by Red Stag by Jim Beam® Hardcore Cider and received free samples of food, pairings and product. The decision to write this review, as well as all opinions, are our own. 

 

Carnitas Uruapan – The Best of Michoacán in Pilsen

Inocencio and Marcos Carbajal personally host patrons at Carnitas Uruapan.

Pride and Joy: Inocencio and Marcos Carbajal personally host patrons at their famous Pilsen restaurant Carnitas Uruapan.

Inocencio Carbajal becomes emotional as he shares a very personal story. In the late 70s, as a recent transplant from Uruapan, Michoacán, he had to make the decision to let go of his most precious possession- a medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe. “I asked Her to bless my choice,” says Inocencio, his eyes tearing up. “We bought our first piece of equipment with that money.”

Fast-forward four decades later, and Inocencio’s hardship has paid off.  As we arrived at the Pilsen eatery, a long line of patrons had already assembled.  Marcos Carbajal, Inocencio’s son, kindly invited us to tour the kitchen while we found a spot to talk.

The state of Michoacán in southwestern Mexico, is famous for its carnitas, one of Mexico’s favorite folk dishes. Usually cooked in large copper containers brought in from a specific neighboring town,  it is not uncommon to find this treat also being prepared in large stainless steel pots. ”In many villages, eating carnitas is a Sunday morning ritual,” said Marcos, who periodically visits family in Uruapan, his father’s birthplace. “People know to arrive early, as typically only one pig is prepared, and they gather to eat after church. Many of our customers still follow this custom, but we cook a fresh batch every two hours.”

Although he kept in his heart the desire to go back to Michoacán at some point, Inocencio’s family and his growing business kept him in Pilsen. “All of a sudden, Marcos was ready to go to college, and I was happy that he had the opportunity,” said Inocencio. For Marcos,  the word “pigskin” is not merely a seasonal one- with a degree in Economics from the University of Michigan, and thinking of helping his dad, Marcos left his corporate job to work in the restaurant full time, while also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University.

Although Inocencio has not returned to Uruapan, he has brought Uruapan to Chicago with him. The path he chose was not easy but, he says smiling, “I would do it all over again”.

His eatery’s menu is perfectly simple, with many well-achieved crowd pleasers. From mouthwatering pork carnitas, to menudo, chicharrón en salsa de tomate ( chicharrón in tomato sauce, of which I took a big container home), cacti salad and even quesadillas de sesos (brain-stuffed quesadillas), this place is the real deal. In fact, the cueritos I tried here are the best I have ever had in both, texture and flavor.

Carnitas Uruapan did not disappoint. My stomach was full and happy, and after talking to Inocencio and Marcos, my heart was too.

¡Viva México!

Carnitas Uruapan

1725 W 18th St  Chicago, IL 60608

(312) 226-2654

www.carnitasuruapanchi.com

Claim your free carnitas taco with your to go order and and free order of chicharrón if you check-in on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carnitas Uruapan on Urbanspoon

Chef Paco´s New Rebozo – Oh My God!

Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago's Gold Coast.

Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

If you visit New Rebozo, chances are that aside from a remarkable meal, you will be delighted by owner Chef Paco’s warm and exuberant personality.  After more than 20 years of success at his Oak Park location, where Chef Paco (A.K.A. Francisco López) is already a fixture, this Mexico City native decided to bring his creativity and passion for authentic Mexican food to Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Holy mole! Chef Paco delights his guests with his complex, yet surprisingly down-to-earth mole Poblano, at New Rebozo.

Chef Paco equates food to the dynamics of everyday life: “Life can be sweet and sour… even salty, add love to it and you will strike a balance.”  His philosophy spills into every corner of his restaurant. There is definitely love in New Rebozo, named after a shawl Mexican women wear. From the cozy fireplace to the thoughtfully picked art, the dining room and patio embrace you like welcoming Mexican embassies. Do not expect to find cultural clichés here.  New Rebozo is the real deal both in form and content. “My work is about making people happy,” said Paco. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

Full of flavor, depth and whimsy, it is so fitting that mole is one of Chef Paco´s specialties. Very few words say fiesta and Mexico as loud and clear as mole does, particularly in the countryside, where this traditional dish is served during important celebrations such as weddings and christenings. Chef Paco´s mole Poblano is so good, I have no doubt that my Pueblan grandma, who was often charged with making the mole for her village’s fiestas patronales*,  would have approved.

Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!

Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!

If you visit New Rebozo,  do not miss the cochinita pibil tacos, a delicacy straight from Yucatán. There is a piece of Mexican heaven in every perfectly flavorful bite and they are surprisingly not greasy. The watermelon mojitos are also quite memorable- one sip of those glorious cocktails had my entire table exclaiming in unison: “Oh my God!”

*In Mexico, fiestas patronales are a village’s most important celebration, and are typically dedicated to the patron saint the village is named after.

New Rebozo Chicago

46 E. Superior

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 202-9141

Open Mon-Sun 12-10 pm

New Rebozo Chicago on Urbanspoon

My Search for the Holy Grail – The Best Taco al Pastor in Chicago

A few weeks ago, I set out to find the best taco al pastor (‘shepherd-style’ taco) in Chicago. This down-to-earth, charismatic delicacy is a dietary staple of  defeños*, and despite the fact that in Mexico City taco stands abound, any local will tell you that not all tacos al pastor are made equal.  Finding the perfect taquería is almost a rite of passage, one that speaks to the way we connect with our city and beyond- a Mexican’s relationship with their pastor is emotional… personal, mystical.

The Genesis

Finding good tacos (let alone authentic ones) north-of-the-border is not so easy. Our taco al pastor story in April made me aware of the fact that I am not alone in this realization. I asked La Vitamina T readers and friends to submit their favorite al pastor destinations in Chicago. A few Facebook posts and tweets later, I had a list of 18 different establishments  endorsed by locals, among them, several Mexican transplants. Similar to how my friend Dave from New Jersey can recognize a good Philly cheesesteak, I figured recommendations from Mexicans added instant credibility to the suggestions.

This is how my search began.

Below is the final list of nominees. I visited every  establishment on this list without letting the owners or staff know my intention, as I  thought this might  influence the quality of the service:

  1. Atotonilco (I tried the tacos in both locations, Joliet and Chicago)
  2. Big Star
  3. De Cero
  4. El Pastor
  5. El Tío Luis
  6. El Solazo
  7. Indio
  8. La Ciudad
  9. Lagartija
  10. Los Comales
  11. Los Gallos
  12. L´Patrón
  13. Mercadito (tacos al pastor are only a seasonal item, so we did not get to try them)
  14. Rubi’s Market on Maxwell
  15. Taco joint
  16. Taquería Juanito
  17. Tierra Caliente
  18. Zacatacos  (Berwyn location)

Several Pepto Bismol doses and 3 extra pounds later, my wandering through the streets of Chicago and its suburbs came to an end. Dozens of tacos have been sampled and scorecards have been tallied!

 Each taco has been carefully evaluated based on criteria that we believe brings to life un taco al pastor “hecho como Dios manda.” (according to God’s orders)**

 I am now ready to “go tell it on the mountain”!

* Defeño is a Citizen of Mexico City (D.F.)

** Mexicans say something is made como Dios manda (according to God’s orders) when something is accurately accomplished.

The Exodus

If you, like me, have lived in Mexico for the great majority of your life, you will be perplexed to hear what has been smuggled into menus, and sold and passed up across the country for the real deal: some of the most popular and readily available counterfeit versions are stuffed with ground beef and covered with cheese or something resembling cheese; others are called tacos al pastor, and are served with sliced lettuce and tomatoes. Heresy!  In certain places, you might be given a choice of hardshell or softshell taco. During my search I found that even some of the taquerías in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods have lost their way- in their attempt to  to cater to a non Mexican palate, they have begun serving some of these apocryphal versions.

This leads me to provide the following word of caution: If you are visiting Mexico and you are looking for a hardshell taco, you will give yourself away as a tourist. We simply don’t have them. We have tostadas, which have a crunchy surface similar to a totopo, which is considered a completely different plate.

In the northern part of the country, flour tortillas were made popular by the Jewish settlers in the area. Still, you will find that most tacos in Mexico are made with corn tortillas.

Leviticus 

Treating oneself to tacos al pastor is an experience that entails a known ritual. Taquerías usually go from the very informal ´hole-in-the-wall’ joint, to fancier establishments featuring a more elaborate set up. The dynamics are the same across the board, and patrons know what to expect:  quick service, dinner and a show. Taqueros (half cooks, half ninjas) conjure up juicy tacos with meat and pineapple they shave off from a giant spinning skewer, to then catch the pieces in a tortilla with quick, precise movements. They do this gracefully, while keeping tallies, processing new orders, and sometimes, giving change and even interacting with the crowd.

Tacos al pastor must meet the following criteria:

1. Must be roasted vertically in a spit called trompo (top), which is clearly visible.

2. Should be made with pork meat, seasoned with a variety of chilis and achiote, which gives them their color.

3. These tacos are served in small tortillas (about 4 1/2 inches in diameter).

4. Tacos al pastor must include a chunk of grilled pineapple, chopped cilantro, raw onion and limes.

5. Salsas are very important in taquerías, and often times they become and element of differentiation.

6. Lime should be abundant and readily available.

Methodology

Each taco was evaluated using a scale of 1- 5 points for a total of 30 points in six different categories:

  • Meat quality
  • Meat flavor
  • Tortilla size and quality
  • Portion size
  • Accuracy/freshness of ingredients
  • Quality of salsa

Points were assigned using the following scale to score each taco:

1= Disappointing

2= Meh…

3= Ok

4= Really good, but not extraordinary or the real deal

5= Perfect. ¡Órale! Am I in Mexico?

Revelation

I have eaten the fruits of ¨the promised land” and I cannot honestly say that my search led me to tacos al pastor exactly like the ones I would find in Mexico City, but I uncovered some really good ones that will definitely hit the spot.  Overall, I was surprised to find that the meat in the eateries we visited was generally saucier than it is in Mexico. Also, portions are usually much more generous and, for some reason, when it comes to tacos al pastor, those with pineapple are very hard to find.
Many taquerías only take cash, so make sure you stop at an ATM ahead of your visit!

And the Winner is..!

 

De Cero – 28/30 Points

De Cero (The Loop)

Taco al pastor at De Cero,   814 West randolph St., Chicago

Find juicy, spicy tacos al pastor at De Cero, 814 West Randolph St., Chicago

Meat Quality: 5  Meat was absolutely fantastic.  We did not see the trompo, but we asked and confirmed it is indeed there.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor is really nice, but the meat has a bit of a kick to it.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5  Tortillas were fantastic. Perfect size!

Portion Size: 5   Perfect ratio. This bundle of joy offers the perfect burst of flavors in each bite.

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients, a check for cilantro, onion, pineapple (although cubed) and lime! The ratios were so good in each bite, I did not let the cubes deter me.

Salsas 4:  I got red salsa with my order which was really, really  good. 

Note: We attempted to get tacos al pastor at De Cero in three different instances. We were persistent and were able to understand why these tacos fly away. Every bite is perfect. The tacos are a bit spicy (and pricey), so make sure you order an horchata to wash them down and know that the meal will be well worth your money. Luckily, this taquería accepts credit cards, so the amount of cash you brought with you won’t  limit the amount of tacos you enjoy.  I am really intrigued by their tamales verdes. I can´t wait to go back!

First Runner Up

Big Star – 27/30 Points

Big Star (Wicker Park)

Taco al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago

Tacos al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago

 

Meat Quality: 4  Really good and not too fatty.  Meat was a bit chunky, which is why we did not rate it a 5.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor was really nice, maybe a bit sweet, but really good. Saucy, not dry as it should be.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5 Perfect size. Tortillas were great.

Portion Size: 5 Perfect portion

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients. I loved to see pineapple on them, which is not easy to find, so I did not allow the cubes to worry me.

Salsas 4 Salsa is good and they have chiles toreados (grilled jalapeños), as well as pickled peppers and carrots. But, you will have to order them separately, as they do not come with your order.

Note:

We waited for about 3 hours to get a table at this famous eatery, which was even more difficult considering the aroma around the restaurant teases you with a preview of what is to come. There is a walk-up window with considerably faster service.  The bar is quite a bit noisy, so if this is where you want to hang out, you will have to be prepared to forego conversation and focus on your food, which is well worth it.  Bring cash with you.  They only take cash! Service from the greeters might be a bit rough, but will improve once you sit down.

Second Runner Up 25/30 Points  (Tie)

Taquería San Juanito (Albany Park)

Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave,  Chicago

Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago

San Juanito was the only place where the meat was not saucy. I found their meat flavorful, but the taco had no pineapple, which lowered-down their score. Green salsa was particularly memorable.

Zacatacos (Berwyn)

Taco al pastor at Zacataco in Berwyn.

Taco al pastor at Zacatacos 6224 Cermak Rd., Berwyn

Zacatacos in Berwyn features the most tender meat you can possibly imagine. The tacos are a bit bulky and a come in a bigger tortilla, but are still really good. Salsas are amazing.

Of Note:

Bien Trucha (Geneva)

I really liked the concept of Bien Trucha, a modern-looking Mexican restaurant that reminded me of the vibe of restaurants in Mexico City. Food, not kitsch is the focus here, and the execution of the tacos spoke to quality. Also, Bien Trucha was the only establishment that got the pineapple right, as they had just a chunk of it  vs. the cubes I found in other restaurants.  I don’t remember getting any salsa with my tacos and had to ask for lime, but if you have had enough of taco talk, try their guacamole of the day or their Pulparindo cocktail! The photo below is not the best because I did not have very good lighting inside the restaurant.

Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva

Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva

Del Seoul (Lincoln Park)

This was not a taco al pastor and definitely not on the list, but in all fairness, some of the ones I tried were not really tacos al pastor either. This grilled  pork taco, a gift from the streets of LA (where fusion happens everyday) was so incredibly delicious, I thought it deserved to be added. The name of this Lincoln Park gem is code for those who know how to read it: Spanish speakers, will  phonetically  understand “Del Seoul” as “del sol”, or “of the sun”.  Mexican cuisine allegorically represents the sun in a meal with a tortilla.
Brilliant branding, brilliant food!
FInd this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul  2568 North Clark Street Chicago

Find this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul 2568 North Clark Street
Chicago

De Cero is our reigning champion, but if you think there is a 30/30 taco out there, let us know. In the mean time,  ¡a taquear!