I love San Francisco. It’s like no other city in the world. And one of the best things for me about traveling in California is the Mexican fare. It’s not only everywhere, but it’s really damn good. Restaurants and carts will do everything you could imagine. Which is why I’d go back every weekend if I could. However, it’s not exactly reasonable to just visit San Francisco when there are so many other places to see out there. How does this work into Chicago you ask? Well, it has one of the best Latin food scenes outside of California. With the first immigration wave of Mexicans to Chicago over 100 years ago, you can imagine that the food and culture has become embedded into daily life. Just have a look left or right when you visit Chicago and you’re bound to be only a block or two from a taco, torta, or tamale.
After hearing from some locals and stumbling onto this Serious Eats Chicago page, my stops included a visit to Carnicerias Guanajuato and La Pasadita. Carnicerias Guanajuato is a butcher shop with a taqueria inside. Nothing fancy, it’s more cafeteria than KFC. Options include everything from lengua (tongue) to carnitas to vegetarian. Trying to get in as much as possible, my order included 3 tacos; carne asada, lomo encebollado (ribeye cooked with onion), and lengua. As well as a vegetarian burrito for my dining partner. The tacos were a perfect example of a great meal. Served in an efficient and friendly manner, the warm tacos were piled with some of the beefiest meat around. The sear from the hot grill charred bits of fat that were enough to make this a mouth water experiencing. The vegetarian burrito was fresh and looked at one point like it might have included an entire avocado. If I wasn’t heading out the door for another stop, I would have taken down more.
Stop 2, 3, and 4, was just a few blocks away. When eating at La Pasadita, you have 3 choices. 2 of which are side by side, while the 3rd is just across the street. That’s right. 3 shops to choose from. The difference we’d soon find out is that the offerings are limited at all but the original store across the street. Walking into the first door, we quickly realized that they didn’t do vegetarian for my fellow diner. Hungry as I was at this point, I asked him to wait while I compared the carne asada and lengua to what I’d just had over at Carnicerias Guanajuato.
The carne asada was a toss up. As tasty as the first, the one thing to distinguish the two was a smokey flavour that just seemed to draw you in. Here the fat crisped up on flame. I can still smell it. Yum. The tongue was sliced quite big at this taqueria, which might scare away any one who is trying it for the first time. I actually prefer this style of presentation as the beefy tongue gets some mouth time before you swallow. As we stepped next door for some vegetarian options, they hooked us up with a side of nachos to munch on. If you take a look at the picture, you’ll notice a black salsa that was absolutely awesome sauce. Maybe not your everyday option, this roasted pepper and garlic salsa sure lite up my mouth. What a treat.
With so many options to choose from in Chicago, I’d have to say that both options are certainly worth a visit if you were unsure about where to go.
1436 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622