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Supermercado Taquerias: a guide

Supermercado Taquerias: a guide
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  • Supermercado Taquerias: a guide

    Post #1 - January 25th, 2010, 10:39 am
    Post #1 - January 25th, 2010, 10:39 am Post #1 - January 25th, 2010, 10:39 am
    Supermercado Taquerias: A Guide

    Image

    HC Monterrey, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

    The tourist district of Playa del Carmen was just a few blocks behind me, but already I was in a different Mexico, dusty and built out of crumbling plaster. I couldn't see it ahead, the place I'd heard about, but suddenly I could smell it, sizzling beef on the air. I walked into the butcher shop and there was a counter where they sold the goods— but mainly there was a grill, the size of a double bed, smoke rising from it as a couple of guys with tongs threw long, jagged pieces of meat onto the grill. The smell of arrachera, skirt steak, was manly and primal, and a few dollars' worth of pesos bought me a hunk of still sizzling meat with the barest of accompaniments— a baked potato and some limes. It was maybe the greatest beef experience of my life.

    * * *

    Image

    Los Potrillos, Chicago.

    Lots of grocery stores have a place to grab a bite in them, whether it's slice pizza at Dominick's or the full-fledged food court at the Kingsbury Whole Foods. But there's a unique character to the taquerias inside Mexican markets— partly it's that you can tell they want to show off the meat counter's goods in the best light to encourage sales, like that butcher shop in Mexico did; partly it's the social side, the fact that a market is something of a community gathering place, like a Mexican town square, especially on weekends when they expand their menus to include specials like birria and menudo. Whatever the reason, they're only about a million times livelier than their wan equivalents in American groceries, and they make for an immersive experience in Chicago's Mexican culture. In some ways they're about the most authentic Mexican eating experiences in town, at least in the sense that they're making the fewest concessions to the gringo trade in terms of menu items or English on the signage.

    Image

    Taqueria Ricardo.

    Which is not to say they're all the same— in fact, they have many different characters and feels. Some are big bustling cafeterias with lines of guisados (stews) or gorditas frying; others are like corner diners, a few stools lined up in front of a grillman as he works in a cloud of meat smoke. Although tacos de carne asada, steak tacos, are the universally standard menu item and seem to account for half the business at any taqueria, beyond that there are plenty of regional variations which seem to suggest that Chicago's Latino neighborhoods are in turn reflecting Mexican regional differences. For instance, on the northwest side (which besides Mexicans includes many South Americans) rotisserie or grilled chicken is an important item, and a cafeteria line of guisados is often found. While on the south side, handpatted tortillas (tortillas heche a mano) and skilled tortilla-makers visibly at work on the line are the center of attention.

    Image

    Carne asada tacos, Los Potrillos.

    For the last few months, I've been scouting out and sampling supermercado taquerias around town whenever lunchtime presented me with the desire for Mexican food. To be honest, I felt like I had fallen into a bit of a rut in my Mexican dining, eating at the same few places, a not uncommon ailment even among foodies, and this gave me an entire new subcategory, largely uncharted, to use to compel myself to try new places. Only one Mexican supermercado taqueria is widely known in the Chicago foodosphere: Wicker Park's Tierra Caliente, formerly Carniceria Leon, famous for some of the best tacos al pastor (the real kind, on the gyros-style cone) in town. My initial thought was, here was an opportunity to find a place that might even surpass Tierra Caliente at the thing it's famous for. Ironically, that's the one thing I didn't really do; as it turns out, only one of the other supermercado taquerias I found actually serves pastor on a cone at all, and though it's every bit as good as Tierra Caliente's, I'm still happy to say that if you want pastor, Tierra Caliente is the logical place to try first.

    Image

    Pastor spit at Taqueria Ricardo.

    But I found so many other interesting things that it hardly mattered. What follows below is my notes on more than a dozen supermercado taquerias all around town. Typically, I tried carne asada tacos on the first visit, because that seemed an easy standard for comparison between places that cared enough to try harder and places that didn't; but if there was any reason to think they emphasized something else, I tried that instead, and aimed in general to sample the various restaurants' strengths. (As has been noted on LTHForum, one of the challenges for these places is that since they're cranking out food in quantity rather than to order, you have to time your visit well for the peak experience— for instance, steak tacos are best at lunch rush, when turnover is high and you have the best odds for getting steak fresh off the fire; but tacos al pastor are better a little off peak hour, when your meat has time to really crisp up in the gyros machine. And of course, if there isn't a gyros machine, take a pass on pastor— fried in a pan is common, but nowhere near as good.)

    Image

    Los Potrillos.

    FAR NORTH

    Chapala Taqueria
    7117 N. Clark

    An attractive modern grocery whose taqueria stresses pollo asado al carbon, char-grilled chicken. It was indeed first-rate, with a subtly seasoned outside (not just Goya Sazon) and cooked well; carne asada was fine if not first-tier. Weekend specials, including carnitas and menudo, would be worth checking out.

    Image

    Chapala Taqueria.

    Supermercado Carreta
    6906 N. Clark

    If you have an elderly aunt who wants to try a supermercado taqueria, this one is easily the spiffiest and most friendly to the hygiene-obsessed in its area, and the menu pictures on the wall looked promising. But a gordita with carne asada was fatally bland, flavorless masa and the meat smothered in lettuce, chese and crema. Deserves another try from another part of the menu, but disappointing.

    Supermercado Almita
    5957 N. Clark

    This little grocery with a tin ceiling and wooden shelves has a 1927-in-amber decrepitude that will either charm you or creep you out; I was charmed by the two ladies running it, watching Mexican soaps as one of them made me a homey, but perfectly decent, steak taco.

    NORTHWEST

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    Pigs feet at Taqueria Ricardo.

    Taqueria Ricardo
    4429 W. Diversey

    Easily my favorite find to date; I can’t think of another Mexican restaurant in Chicago that so captures the ramshackle charm of Mexico itself, from the over the top tilework to the grill haphazardly stacked on top of its burning wood. The menu is wildly diverse, ranging from seafood to grilled chicken adobo and rabbit. Carne asada is good and the pastor is flavorful with lots of pineapple dripping down. Wood smoke means the chicken is outstandingly flavorful, and the presentation of a whole chicken on a metal stand is impressive. A milanesa torta was freshly fried and the bread was toasted, both good signs. Though the guisados were hit (chicken in green salsa) and miss (chicharron), a weekend special of barbacoa de res was excellent, and so was a tamale of poblano and cheese. Among the seafood items, the caldo de siete mares was very nice, impressively decked with a whole langoustine, but a shrimp cocktail, though the shrimp were of nice quality, was way too sweet. In summer I’ve also seen them grilling in the parking lot.

    Image

    Los Potrillos
    3624 W. Belmont

    With religious iconography on the walls, this tiny taqueria has a real step-out-of-Chicago feel. Good quality beef, cooked to be tender and juicy by an expert grillman, makes the carne asada tacos and cecina tacos some of the best in the city. But my favorite find on my first visit was the weekend special of consomme de chivo, goat soup, which had big chunks of goat in a great ancho broth.

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    Carniceria Jimenez
    3840 W. Fullerton/others

    I can’t speak to other outposts of this grocery chain, but with its decor of old radios and vintage Mexican movie stars like Pedro Infante, this taqueria bizarrely comes off like the Burt’s Pizza of supermercado taquerias. For some odd reason I ordered a torta milanesa, which looked textbook-correct but was kind of less than the sum of its parts; the better looking things are the guisados.

    Image

    Guisados at Carniceria Jimenez.

    El Gigante
    2500 N. Laramie

    Not gigante at all, but this small market with a new taqueria has neon in the window to announce Barbacoa and Carnitas on weekends, which is promising. A weekday steak taco had good, tender beef, but was undercut by rubbery tortillas...

    Carniceria y Taqueria La Loma
    2535 N. Laramie

    ...while infinitely better tortillas were a strong point across the street; the steak seemed slightly cheaper (and cut to tiny bits) but it was greasy and salty in all the right ways. Pastor was given pride of place on the menu, so even though no cone was visible, I fell for it, and was reminded once again: If you don’t see a cone, leave the pastor alone!

    Image

    El Gigante.

    NEAR NORTH

    Carniceria Guanajuato
    Multiple locations

    This grocery chain is one of the easiest supermercado taquerias to find, but I’ve never had anything at the taqueria I thought was better than okay, though I’m sure quality varies by location. Still, in the case of the 1436 N. Ashland location, it would be a shame to come here over Tierra Caliente.

    Tierra Caliente
    1402 N. Ashland

    The former Carniceria Leon is the one supermercado taqueria widely known to gringo foodies, complete with Dolinsky icon. It also has the highest ratio of taqueria to grocery, suggesting where their attention really lies. The star attraction is unquestionably the pastor, which if you get it at the right moment (a little after lunch rush) is a perfect blend of crispiness and juiciness, and a contender for best in the city. But LTHers have identified other notable items such as the gordita de chivo and weekend carnitas.

    Danny’s Fresh Market
    2140 N. Western

    You’d think proximity to possibly the best steak tacos in the city, Las Asadas, would step up your game, but everything about Danny’s was dingy and tired; a pork guisado had the taste of seasonings that expired in 2005, and a steak taco came with purple (!) onion, lettuce tomato and mayo, giving it an unmistakable eau de Whopper.

    Image

    Huarache at Laura.

    Carniceria y Taqueria Laura
    1051 N. Ashland

    The enormous huarache I got, piled high with lettuce, starchy winter tomato, avocado and crema, looked like a monstrosity, and the fact that both meat and huarache were reheated seemed a second strike. Then I bit into it— and was surprised how good it was. The steak was full of flavor and the huarache toothsome and comforting. This place is surely overlooked due to the three La Pasaditas being just up the street (though Vital Info praised it in a long-ago Pasaditathon on Chowhound), but it deserves more attention and a return from me.

    SOUTH SIDE

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    Carniceria Aguascalientes
    3132 W. 26th St.

    This meat market located near the La Villita gate has a large open dining and cooking area in 50s diner white tile, which serves to point attention to the main attraction: a woman hand-patting gordita shells and laying them out in neat rows. Everything benefits from the toothsome, comfort-foody appeal of the piping hot masa shell, but that’s not to slight well-grilled steak or the complex spiciness of a pork guisado, only two of many choices.

    Image

    La Chiquita
    3555 W. 26th St./2637 S. Pulaski/others

    Big, bustling supermarkets on the south side and in suburbs like Cicero and Aurora, these have functional-looking taquerias inside whose main attraction is handmade gorditas, sopas, etc. (Pulaski’s is much nicer, but seemed deader, than 26th St.’s 70s throwback.) Fresh masa made for a very good gordita with pork in red sauce at the 26th street location, though I’d still choose Carniceria Aguascalientes for that first.

    Jerry’s Certified
    4524 S. Ashland

    I came here at off-peak hours, so it was kind of dead like a coffeeshop at three in the afternoon, but I have a feeling that at prime time on weekends, this is an exciting place. There are lots of good signs (literally), with weekend specials like chile rellenos and caldo de siete mares (seafood soup). The emphasis of the everyday menu seems to be on the tortas, and the torta milanesa I had was exemplary; on the other hand, it was one of the only places where I got gringo’d on a steak taco and it arrived with lettuce, tomato and cheese.

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    Carniceria y Taqueria La Loma.
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  • Post #2 - January 25th, 2010, 10:55 am
    Post #2 - January 25th, 2010, 10:55 am Post #2 - January 25th, 2010, 10:55 am
    Hi,

    I took the Moms out for dinner last night. I was telling them all about the charms of dining in Mexican grocery stores. They are all primed to check out a number of them going into the future.

    I never made the connection between Mexican markets and dining until your post. I had once gone to Jimenez with Cynthia and thought it was an anamoly. The tacos sold in the vestibule in a market in Waukegan, I thought was a loss leader to get people into the store. I didn't realize it was a traditional Mexican food shopping experience, which I venture to guess it not limited to Chicago.

    Thank you for alerting me on this. I like having something new to check out.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #3 - January 25th, 2010, 10:57 am
    Post #3 - January 25th, 2010, 10:57 am Post #3 - January 25th, 2010, 10:57 am
    Nice work, Mike! I'm really, really hungry now.
  • Post #4 - January 25th, 2010, 11:17 am
    Post #4 - January 25th, 2010, 11:17 am Post #4 - January 25th, 2010, 11:17 am
    Awesome thread. Just Awesome.

    For those in the NW burbs, I'll be adding some posts/pics about the Jimenez in Wheeling on Dundee road. Love that place to death. Guisados, carnitas, tortas, caldos - if you know what to order, you're SOO set. Also, there's a La Rosita chain that I know a lot of ppl like, but I've never really been a fan.

    Again, great post, great thread. Hopefully there will be additions from others as well. These places can be absolutely STELLAR for the $.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #5 - January 25th, 2010, 11:28 am
    Post #5 - January 25th, 2010, 11:28 am Post #5 - January 25th, 2010, 11:28 am
    Mike G. Thanks for the list. I'll definitely be checking out a few of those places which I haven't yet visited. It occurs to me that, although it is ostensibly a "Jewish Deli", Isaac & Moishe's Deli in Highwood fits the profile of one of these in-store taquerias. Although much is made of the Jewish Deli items in one of their cases, most of the items sold in the store are of Mexican descent; and the home-made Mexican dishes are being sold in the back of the store just like a more traditional Supermercado Taqueria. OK, it's a stretch, but the parallel is there.

    Issac & Moishe's Deli
    311 Waukegan Ave.
    Highwood, IL 60040
    847-433-0557
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - January 25th, 2010, 11:31 am
    Post #6 - January 25th, 2010, 11:31 am Post #6 - January 25th, 2010, 11:31 am
    Thanks all. Seabee-- all of the chain groceries listed above had outposts in known Mexican-populated suburbs like Cicero or Aurora as well, so I'm sure there's lots of these places out beyond the city limits. My next stop some Saturday afternoon will be two on the Indiana border. So there's plenty of ground still to cover, I look forward to what others will add here.

    Stevez-- Yes, I thought about that when you posted about Isaac & Moishe's the other day-- it's an amusing hybrid, the only Supermercado-Taqueria-Nosheteria.
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  • Post #7 - January 25th, 2010, 11:38 am
    Post #7 - January 25th, 2010, 11:38 am Post #7 - January 25th, 2010, 11:38 am
    Another one I just thought of is GNR La Unica; featuring not only Mexican food (actually, featuring very little actual Mexican food), but a complete menu of Pan Latino favorites from Central & South America and Cuba.

    La Unica
    1515 W. Devon Ave.
    Chicago, IL
    (773) 274-7788
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - January 25th, 2010, 12:57 pm
    Post #8 - January 25th, 2010, 12:57 pm Post #8 - January 25th, 2010, 12:57 pm
    Nice one, Mike... glad to see somebody's pounding the pavement. We need more of this.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #9 - January 25th, 2010, 1:05 pm
    Post #9 - January 25th, 2010, 1:05 pm Post #9 - January 25th, 2010, 1:05 pm
    Mike, thanks for the intel. Semi-related question: of all the places you visited, which seemed the best to shop for, you know, groceries? Always looking looking for a good place to get produce...
  • Post #10 - January 25th, 2010, 1:23 pm
    Post #10 - January 25th, 2010, 1:23 pm Post #10 - January 25th, 2010, 1:23 pm
    Very good question, though I have to say I don't have an especially strong answer since some I just barreled straight past the grocery to enter the taqueria. That said, I picked up a few things here and there at Chapala, Jimenez, Los Potrillos, Laura, and La Chiquita, and probably others, and they seemed fine; and though I am not all that fond of the taqueria at Guanajuato, I hit the one near my house (Belmont/California) from time to time and it's fine.
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  • Post #11 - January 25th, 2010, 2:59 pm
    Post #11 - January 25th, 2010, 2:59 pm Post #11 - January 25th, 2010, 2:59 pm
    Though, having just recently visited Chapala, I wouldn't consider it a great place for groceries: there is produce, but sometimes it's a bit worse for wear. The refrigerated selection is fairly limited (although they've got several choices of fresh masa,) mostly to Latin dairy snacks (there's a whole section dedicated to flan and all of its jello cousins) They have an impressive array of canned food - but really, it's a place for meat and for take-out; the other stuff seems a bit of an afterthought. If you get lucky and need bananas, pineapples, or chayote they might have good ones that day. Not surprisingly, the produce with the highest turnover in a Latin neighbhorhood are usually the best: avocadoes, limes, cilantro, I think they carry alfalfa, prickly pear, etc.

    I most often go there for the meats (this is where I get slabs of pork fat when I need it) and the takeout, and do my produce shopping elsewhere. I used to have very good luck with the produce at Supermercado Morelia, but I haven't yet been to its new incarnation.

    Which reminds me, the Rogers Park Fruit market apparently offers carnitas on the weekends; I've never been there for takeout, so I can't speak to whether it qualifies here - they have some interesting (though occasionally also tired) produce and more global pantry staples, since they cover a broader ethnic group. For instance, I knew they would have white caribbean sweet potatoes - I couldn't be sure at Chapala.
  • Post #12 - January 25th, 2010, 4:10 pm
    Post #12 - January 25th, 2010, 4:10 pm Post #12 - January 25th, 2010, 4:10 pm
    Mike G wrote:Thanks all. Seabee-- all of the chain groceries listed above had outposts in known Mexican-populated suburbs like Cicero or Aurora as well, so I'm sure there's lots of these places out beyond the city limits. My next stop some Saturday afternoon will be two on the Indiana border. So there's plenty of ground still to cover, I look forward to what others will add here.

    Stevez-- Yes, I thought about that when you posted about Isaac & Moishe's the other day-- it's an amusing hybrid, the only Supermercado-Taqueria-Nosheteria.


    Mike--I spend a lot of time in NWI (Highland/Munster) so happy to aid you in your mission there if you need it!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #13 - January 25th, 2010, 8:50 pm
    Post #13 - January 25th, 2010, 8:50 pm Post #13 - January 25th, 2010, 8:50 pm
    Ricardo's is a gem. I live a block away from there. The grocery store is great. They have fresh churros filled with chocolate and other yummy fillings. There's always fresh guac and salsa. You wouldn't believe the tequila selection there. At the restaurant, I love the roasted chicken, steak tacos, horchata, carne asada, and chicken soup.
  • Post #14 - January 25th, 2010, 8:59 pm
    Post #14 - January 25th, 2010, 8:59 pm Post #14 - January 25th, 2010, 8:59 pm
    My friend and I took a quick spin through the grocery at Los Potrillos when we were with the group on Saturday and both the meat and produce sections looked great--clean, fresh, well-displayed and VERY reasonably priced. We didn't have time to check out Riccardo--that's on my list for this week!
    chezbrad wrote:Mike, thanks for the intel. Semi-related question: of all the places you visited, which seemed the best to shop for, you know, groceries? Always looking looking for a good place to get produce...
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #15 - January 26th, 2010, 1:38 pm
    Post #15 - January 26th, 2010, 1:38 pm Post #15 - January 26th, 2010, 1:38 pm
    but tacos al pastor are better a little off peak hour, when your meat has time to really crisp up in the gyros machine.



    I've been wondering about this lately. I live on the north side, and there are two cone-al pastor taquerias near me. One I eat at weekly and the other I've been to several times. I've noticed that both turn the cones off during slow times. When I walk in at an off-peak hour I see the pork cones half carved and undercooked, just sitting there not moving, at room temperature. At the one i frequent, there is a pile of pink looking al pastor at the base of the cone, and thats what they use in my taco. The meat has a strange rubbery texture, like it really hasn't been cooked all the way through. The less visited taqueria served me charred looking meat, so I guess it was from earlier, but it had no fire-y flavor.
    Logan: Come on, everybody, wang chung tonight! What? Everybody, wang chung tonight! Wang chung, or I'll kick your ass!
  • Post #16 - January 26th, 2010, 3:21 pm
    Post #16 - January 26th, 2010, 3:21 pm Post #16 - January 26th, 2010, 3:21 pm
    Right, you have to get it when it's cranked up, but not too busy, but not so dead that they turn it off...

    I'm not sure myself whether the advice above is all that useful, frankly, with apologies to the various threads in which it became orthodoxy here. It seems to me that the purpose of the device is not to roast continuously so much as it is to allow you to crank it up, basically broil it, quickly to order. In which case the ideal should be that they fire up your pastor and get it nice and crispy just for you (as happened on Saturday at Ricardo, I do believe). But then too many restaurants use leftover meat like you describe, completely defeating the purpose of the device, and fry it up I guess on the idea that the grill's already hot, so it's easier to do it that way.

    So the only really useful advice is, only go to pastor places that do it right and don't defeat themselves.
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  • Post #17 - March 9th, 2010, 11:24 am
    Post #17 - March 9th, 2010, 11:24 am Post #17 - March 9th, 2010, 11:24 am
    Mike G wrote:Image

    Huarache at Laura.

    Carniceria y Taqueria Laura
    1051 N. Ashland

    The enormous huarache I got, piled high with lettuce, starchy winter tomato, avocado and crema, looked like a monstrosity, and the fact that both meat and huarache were reheated seemed a second strike. Then I bit into it— and was surprised how good it was. The steak was full of flavor and the huarache toothsome and comforting. This place is surely overlooked due to the three La Pasaditas being just up the street (though Vital Info praised it in a long-ago Pasaditathon on Chowhound), but it deserves more attention and a return from me.


    Jefe wrote:One more rec. on "carne asada row" and my little 'hood secret- Carniceria y Taqueria Laura, east side of Ashland, at Thomas, serves up mighty good huaraches. Their meats are standard- tenderized, griddled, though recognizable as skirt steak. The key is the handformed masa huarache base. This is smeared with nice lardy beans, then the meat, and the cheese melts really nicely ontop. It is topped off spartanly with onions and cilantro and the salsas are bright and fiery. Washed down with Coke in a bottle, Que Rico!


    Image

    Spotted this sign at Laura yesterday. Always sad when a local favorite is hurting. As expressed above, this place offers some pretty good huaraches, the only spot in this part of town that I know of that makes them fresh. Really great table salsas too. I was rapping with one of the grill men last time and he also puts time in over at Avec if that speaks to anything. I see Streets and San men in there, but its typically filled with locals (if only on the weekends). They might not have the range of meats that Tierra Caliente up the street boasts, but if you love masa and the back-of-the mercado vibe, get discovering folks!
  • Post #18 - February 27th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    Post #18 - February 27th, 2011, 6:07 pm Post #18 - February 27th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    Been a long time coming, but I dumped the camera for the first timer in a while - 600 pix - sheesh! So anyway, I have posted about my love for The Carnicerias Jimenez in Wheeling often in the "Cheap Northbrook Lunch" thread -starting about halfway down this page. If you're up this way, and lookin for some cheap eats, they do some things incredibly well for the price. Carnitas, chuletas en salsa, huaraches, gorditas, sopes etc. They usually have a few unadvertised specials as well, probably extras from catering orders, or cooked up meats that were gotten from their suppliers on the cheap Recently, I've seen birria, barbacoa, and cabeza on offer as specials. I'm usually hittin this place up at least once per week for lunch, and if the specials are good when I go the first time, I'll definitely be back for more. They have a steam tray set up for their stews, soups, and some of their meats. A large griddle is set up for reheating meats, and warming masa boats, and tortillas. They have a grill press thing for the tortas. Deep fryer fries up milanesas to order. If you order smart for this type of place, you're usually singin a happy tune when you're done. One thing I will never pass up when it's a special is the lomo en chile arbol. They are not the greatest model of consistency, but when this stuff is on, it's AWN!

    Image
    A reg sized 3 part clamshell with rice (usually just ok,) beans (usually just blah,) and a very heaping portion of sliced ribeye simmered in salsa de chile de arbol, along with a dozen or so hot corn tortillas (they have housemade flour tortillas as well if you want them, but you gotta ask. They aren't that great or anything, but I like em just fine on occasion.) If you like the earthy arbol flavor, man o man, this stuff is the bomb, imo. Usually, it's got a decent kick to it, but there are times when it's atomic, and just gives your tummy that warm glowing sense until dinnertime.
    Image
    Image

    Another favorite of mine here is the chuletas en salsa verde - rib tips simmered in a tomatillo salsa that is usually not as fiery as the chile arbol, but is usually nicely spicy. They usually have both of these on offer every day, but when they are a weekly special, get outta my way.
    Carnicerias Jimenez
    Wheeling.
    550 W Dundee Rd,
    Wheeling, IL 60090-2675
    http://www.carniceriasjimenez.com/specials.php
    (specials are usually on the bottom of page 2)
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #19 - April 7th, 2011, 12:50 pm
    Post #19 - April 7th, 2011, 12:50 pm Post #19 - April 7th, 2011, 12:50 pm
    Through good times and bad, I guess:
    What a clunker of a lunch did I get from the Jimenez in Wheeling today. Probably for the better since I have in laws coming into town for dinner, and no doubt it will be a food fest of some sort. I wish I had my cam with me. They were offering a special chicken in mole verde today. 8.50 for the platter. I was feeling adventurous, and plenty hungry, so I went with it. Two measly chicken legs, smothered with about a pint of green, supersalty, mealy, mole with rice and beans. A major clunker. The mole is borderline inedible, and void of flavor except for salt and cumin. I love my Jimenez to death, and I'll be back next week with certainty, but this was an absolute failure. I might just cut my losses and go to the office cafeteria for a sammich. BOO Jimenez. (but I'll see you next week!)
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #20 - April 7th, 2011, 2:15 pm
    Post #20 - April 7th, 2011, 2:15 pm Post #20 - April 7th, 2011, 2:15 pm
    Is the food ready to be served on Sunday mornings before 10 am?
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #21 - April 7th, 2011, 3:17 pm
    Post #21 - April 7th, 2011, 3:17 pm Post #21 - April 7th, 2011, 3:17 pm
    Elfin wrote:Is the food ready to be served on Sunday mornings before 10 am?


    No clue, Elfin, sorry. I'm only up this way M-F. carniceriasjimenez.com is their site, give em a call. I'd assume that you'd want the stewy items on the steam try to fester a bit more than to get them as soon as they are placed into the trays, but I could be wrong.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #22 - April 7th, 2011, 6:12 pm
    Post #22 - April 7th, 2011, 6:12 pm Post #22 - April 7th, 2011, 6:12 pm
    Nice writeup.
    Great Topic.
    It's always been perfectly sensible to me how this may have evolved, given that in "Gringo" Supermarket Stores-
    there are usually samples of cooked food items being offered- so why not just.......get down,
    and do it right?
    Also- as a restaurant- how convenient not to have to call up Sysco Systems or KraftFoodswhen you reun out of an item-
    BAM!
    Send Jorge to the Carneceria for more "product".
    Plus- business wise- it's a textbook example of Vertical Integration!

    Your notes on Taqueria Jimenez on Fullerton may need to be revised.
    It's my "go to" spot for cheap eats.
    When ordering- Spanish fluency is always a plus.
    Also- different Grillmen are more apt to offer service not posted- for example-
    on Sunday mornings - we will order a "plato chico" - "Huevos Revuelto con Carne Al Pastor"- man-oh-man.....fuggadabout
    Huevos con Chorizo......scrambled eggs wit freshly sliced off the cone Al Pastor can't be beat- especially with one of their fresh
    "Aquas" de Sandia (Watermelon) or another of the hibiscus flower water- "Jamaica"!
    Maxwell Street in a Supermarket.

    I usually scan what's in the guisado trays- and ask for a taco- made with a Flour Tortilla- and garnish w/ only Onion and Cilantro.
    The other "stuff" (lettuce,tomato,etc) is very TacoBell-ish to my tastes....
    Also- each Jimenez is different- for example the one in Melrose Park has only a few stools at a counter- and the quality of the food is below the Fullerton location-
    and par-- with their North Avenue Stores Taqueria.
    Additionally- some items are "kept" in trays- back on the grill- so be sure to look for whats back there-
    which is often a treat.
    For Lent- they have been running a lot of vegetarian items- so if your meatless- now's your time to go there.
    Be sure to check out the amazing bakery (Panaderia) off of the parking lot to the east of the store.
    Wonderful treats like "flan de Elote" - an amazing sweet corn pudding/flan dessert they sell for a buck-fity!

    Taqueria Jimenez.
    3850 W. Fullerton
    Chicago,IL
  • Post #23 - August 24th, 2011, 2:52 pm
    Post #23 - August 24th, 2011, 2:52 pm Post #23 - August 24th, 2011, 2:52 pm
    Boy did Mike G hit it out of the ballpark with Taqueria Riccardo. I went back to my childhood neighborhood today to sample some of the chicken and al pastor he wrote about and all I can say is wow! I had 2 of the chicken tacos and 1 al pastor and I have to say they were some of the best tacos I've had in a long time. Stuffed with meat in a double tortilla I felt like I was in heaven. Excellent salsas (one green, one red) made for a very enjoyable lunch. Three tacos two Carta Blanca's and the bill was a mere $14.00 w/o tip. I know I might be reaching here but that could have been the best $14.00 lunch I've ever had.
  • Post #24 - September 4th, 2011, 9:16 am
    Post #24 - September 4th, 2011, 9:16 am Post #24 - September 4th, 2011, 9:16 am
    While not a true taqueria in the way that others mentioned are (no seating), the new (not really that new now, but different than their original) location of Supermercado Morelia i think deserves a mention in this thread for the availability of still warm fresh tortillas, a salsa tasting bar, and the variety of already prepared foods available, including some of the best supermarket roast chicken around. It's also among the best of those mentioned for actually shopping

    Supermercado Morelia
    7330 N. Western Chicago, IL 60645
    (773) 761-3291
  • Post #25 - September 5th, 2011, 12:02 pm
    Post #25 - September 5th, 2011, 12:02 pm Post #25 - September 5th, 2011, 12:02 pm
    Great post, MikeG. I especially appreciate your comprehensiveness and the legwork it took to accomplish this post.

    Since I've been doing most of my Chicago grocery shopping at Pete's Fresh Market on Pulaski near Midway, I have to say that the only way they could improve their store would be to add a taqueria. The carnitas, at least, in the deli section are good, as are the guisados, but they have enough space to for a counter and I wonder why they (and Cermak, for that matter) do not follow the example of the other Mexican markets in town.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #26 - September 6th, 2011, 7:28 am
    Post #26 - September 6th, 2011, 7:28 am Post #26 - September 6th, 2011, 7:28 am
    We had a surprisingly awful meal at Taqueria Ricardo the other night. This place has been one of my favorite places to eat in Chicago, so we were really taken aback by its crappiness. If anything, I'm blaming it on a rather late dinner, having to adjust that night after our block party got rained out. Nearly all my excellent meals here have been lunches.

    And thing is, nearly everything ordered, and we had a range of items, sucked: pastor and langostino's, normally in the upper echelon of these things, especially sucked. The langostinos were so over salted, they were inedible. With the wood grilled chicken, the metal serving plate was so revved up that anything touching it, beans, chicken skin, turned to char, and not in a good way. At least with the crisped rice, I could pretend it was soccarat.

    There's a temptation to give places like this a pass, as they seem so humble, but Taqueria Ricardo is not exactly cheap-cheap and our bill touched down past $70 for five before tip. I know one cannot proclaim "downhill alerts" after a single bad pass; don't get me wrong. Rather, I put this out as a prayer that this was surely an aberrant experience.
  • Post #27 - September 6th, 2011, 8:09 am
    Post #27 - September 6th, 2011, 8:09 am Post #27 - September 6th, 2011, 8:09 am
    Vital Information wrote:We had a surprisingly awful meal at Taqueria Ricardo the other night. This place has been one of my favorite places to eat in Chicago, so we were really taken aback by its crappiness. If anything, I'm blaming it on a rather late dinner, having to adjust that night after our block party got rained out. Nearly all my excellent meals here have been lunches.

    And thing is, nearly everything ordered, and we had a range of items, sucked: pastor and langostino's, normally in the upper echelon of these things, especially sucked. The langostinos were so over salted, they were inedible. With the wood grilled chicken, the metal serving plate was so revved up that anything touching it, beans, chicken skin, turned to char, and not in a good way. At least with the crisped rice, I could pretend it was soccarat.

    There's a temptation to give places like this a pass, as they seem so humble, but Taqueria Ricardo is not exactly cheap-cheap and our bill touched down past $70 for five before tip. I know one cannot proclaim "downhill alerts" after a single bad pass; don't get me wrong. Rather, I put this out as a prayer that this was surely an aberrant experience.


    We recently had an absolutely horrible meal there, too. I wasn't going to post about it because I thought maybe it was a one off experience, but it happened on a prime time on a Saturday afternoon when things woud normally be fresh and good. Coupled with your experience, I'd stop short of an official "downhill alert" but I'd put Taqueria Ricardo firmly in the "eat at your own risk" category.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #28 - July 3rd, 2012, 6:01 pm
    Post #28 - July 3rd, 2012, 6:01 pm Post #28 - July 3rd, 2012, 6:01 pm
    I thought I'd revive this thread since it's been almost a year since the last post. My wife and I wanted to try Taqueria Ricardo on W Diversey for their wood-grilled chicken specialty, since we live off of Armitage close to Weegee's Lounge and have many taquerias in the 'hood (Jimenez on Fullerton/Hamlin is a favorite).

    We went for lunch last Saturday, before running some shopping errands. There were some empty spots in the parking lot too, added bonus! When we walked into the place (dubbed Restorante Ricardo apparently) around 1pm there were 3 or 4 open tables so no wait...we were offered a bowl of tortilla chips and red and green salsas to start. The chips are obviously purchased, as these were not the freshest of fresh. The salsas were excellent though, the green from tomatillo and serrano, the red from chile arbol (nice smoky heat).

    We ordered a few seafood ceviche tostadas to start off, along with some Victoria beer.

    Image

    These were quite delicious, especially with some squeezed lime and Cholula sauce. Nice texture and bright, fresh flavors.

    We ordered the half-chicken (dinner? platter?) to share as our main dish, and it arrived on a fajitas-style sizzling metal plate (wooden base).

    Image

    This was chopped into breast, full leg, and quarter-wing sections and the meat was rubbed with an achiote paste before going over the wood coals. Grilled jumbo green onions, grilled jalapeño, refried beans and rice came with...and some funky/crunchy french fries too (and a side of corn tortillas in a warmer). The chicken was excellent, savory and hot, good texture to the meat as well. I loved the grilled onions too, and we made good work of this platter making our own tacos. We did end up taking about 1/2 the chicken home though...

    I was intrigued by their other offerings, and will branch out on next visit...well, maybe not the "super especial chicken wings."

    Image
    Hot line #1 (notice the bbq ribs? I want to try those)

    Image
    Hot line #2

    Image
    Cold line

    Here's the wood-burning grill that makes their "El mejor pollo asado en leña de Chicago"

    Image

    All in all, a solid lunch. Two beers, two ceviche tostadas and a big-ass half-chicken platter for $28 plus tip.

    Carniceria (y Restorante) Ricardo
    4419 W Diversey Ave
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #29 - July 4th, 2012, 10:56 am
    Post #29 - July 4th, 2012, 10:56 am Post #29 - July 4th, 2012, 10:56 am
    This little chain located inside Supermercado has excllent tacos, about twice the filling of most places, usually $1.75 and what's on special is $1.50/taco. I have eaten at the Algonquin RD location many many times, it is mostly cary out and indeed if after 11:30 am on a weekday, the landscaping trucks fill the lot and service bogs down but well worth it. they have about 6 seats at a bar inside.
    Everytime we come down to Mitsuwa it's on the list for lunch.
    I mostly have Lengua but my wife recently had the chicken and pronounced it very good!
    http://www.carniceriaslarosita.com/static/index.html
    -
    dick

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