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El Chapin [was Tierra Caliente, was Carniceria Leon]

El Chapin [was Tierra Caliente, was Carniceria Leon]
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  • Post #31 - February 4th, 2010, 2:07 pm
    Post #31 - February 4th, 2010, 2:07 pm Post #31 - February 4th, 2010, 2:07 pm
    I ask them to make the pork 'crispy' (they throw it on the grill for a couple of minutes), it turns out great! Love this place.
  • Post #32 - February 8th, 2010, 6:56 pm
    Post #32 - February 8th, 2010, 6:56 pm Post #32 - February 8th, 2010, 6:56 pm
    FINALMENTE!!!
    I made it over to CTC.

    THIS is my kinda joint. I got there about 1ish, and I'd guess the lunch rush was just over. There was fresh steak sizzlin on the grill, fresh steak still on the chopping board, and the condiment containers were a mess. I probably got there at the tail end of a decent lunch crowd. The two guys manning the taqueria counter were hilarious. Like watching a Spanish sitcom. One guy would ask for your order, then a minute or two later, the other guy would ask for your order, then a minute later, the first guy would ask for it again. Then, out of the blue, the guy manning the meat counter would yell out something like, "quit being idiots, and make the food!" and then everyone would laugh. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that I knew why their short term memory appeared so, er...um... affected. I remember plenty of times working in a food related job where my eyes looked like I needed few drops of visine as well. Anyway, on to La Comida!

    Two tacos de carne asada:
    Good stuff. The meat I had today was on the chewier side of the spectrum, but the potential is there. I'm not so naive as to think that this is their standard. Different day, different cow. I know the drill. I'm sure this place can sling out some great stuff when the cows cooperate. If it were a sampling of Las Asadas meat, I'd grade it a C-. A little under their standard deliciousness, but still better than 98% of all the taquerias in this city.

    Taco de birria de chivo.
    Good. The stewing liquid was not overpowering, so you knew you were eating goat, and I knew I was liking it a lot.

    However,
    The Pastor stole the show for me today.
    This was really, really, good. When I walked in, my eyes went straight to the pastor cone. It looked like it hadn't been touched in quite some time. One side from the middle up was totally crusted over, and the bottom looked like a pile of unctuously juicy meat. As a whole, their pastor cone looked like something that, if nobody was around, you'd just grab it with a pair of oven mitts and eat that sumbitch like an ear o corn at the state fair with no bib. For reals. As for the taste, I think I know what pastor is supposed to be now. It is NOT supposed to be that salty red crap that most other places sling out. This stuff was the goods. It actually had a flavor other than "too much salt." New pastor fan here.

    And also, the salsa verde was sizzlin hot today.

    While geographic constraints will limit my visitations, I gotta say, I'll definitely stop in whenever I can. This place is a riot, and fire grilled skirt steak + hot salsa means it's automatically in the top tier of Chicagoland taquerias. Can't wait to introduce a few friends to this joint. Thanks again, LTH!
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #33 - March 8th, 2010, 10:57 am
    Post #33 - March 8th, 2010, 10:57 am Post #33 - March 8th, 2010, 10:57 am
    Some places get "discovered," the crowds show up, and they start sucking. On Saturday afternoon, Carniceria Leon (now TC) was lousy with foodies in addition to Mexican regulars tucking into menudo and chivo. New, welcoming menu signs had everything in English. After years, people apparently stopped walking by the place because it looks "sketchy" or whatever they say. My heart kind of sank. Then I got my tacos. Sweet baby Jesus. The pastor, goat and steak were each as good as or better than ever, with huge portions of meat (more than ever, really) and the salsas, grilled jalapeños and menudo were all up to snuff.

    And, while I'd like hand-made tortillas as much as the next guy, the local tortillas used at CLNTC are very fresh and quite good. (As a digression, note that Chicago has long had the best tortillas in the county due to our many fine tortillerias and masa mills; now that local taquerias are spoiling us with wrappers hechos a mano, folks are dissing the fine locally-made joints as an inferior product. They definitely are not that, any more than good machine made pasta is "inferior" to kitchen-made pasta.)

    Most deserving non-GNR GNR going these days.
  • Post #34 - March 8th, 2010, 11:12 am
    Post #34 - March 8th, 2010, 11:12 am Post #34 - March 8th, 2010, 11:12 am
    JeffB wrote:And, while I'd like hand-made tortillas as much as the next guy, the local tortillas used at CLNTC are very fresh and quite good. (As a digression, note that Chicago has long had the best tortillas in the county due to our many fine tortillerias and masa mills; now that local taquerias are spoiling us with wrappers hechos a mano, folks are dissing the fine locally-made joints as an inferior product. They definitely are not that, any more than good machine made pasta is "inferior" to kitchen-made pasta.)


    One might mistakenly count me among the packaged tortilla dissers, since I have recently commented about the subject in a number of other threads. So, let me be clear that I completely agree with you: we are lucky as heck to be in a town with an abundance of fresh, cheap, delicious factory-made tortillas. That's exactly why I think there is no excuse for places that serve stale, day old stuff and attempt to nuke it into edibility. It's so easy to get a fresh, cheap batch of tortillas every morning, so there is no good excuse for serving anything of lesser quality.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #35 - March 8th, 2010, 11:36 am
    Post #35 - March 8th, 2010, 11:36 am Post #35 - March 8th, 2010, 11:36 am
    Hear, hear. One of the things I saw over and over when I was checking out supermercado taquerias was either a truck from El Milagro, etc. delivering fresh tortillas all through the day, or Mexican shoppers making sure they got the newest, freshest tortillas out of what was there. I love a handpatted tortilla as much as the next guy, but the factorymade kind are no more inferior by definition than rye is inferior to wheat bread, or Burt's crust is inferior to Spacca Napoli's-- it's just a style, each has its proper uses (the handmade tortillas are often too thick for some applications), and you may prefer whichever you prefer, but the other is certainly not "wrong."
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  • Post #36 - March 8th, 2010, 11:49 am
    Post #36 - March 8th, 2010, 11:49 am Post #36 - March 8th, 2010, 11:49 am
    Mike G wrote:Hear, hear. One of the things I saw over and over when I was checking out supermercado taquerias was either a truck from El Milagro, etc. delivering fresh tortillas all through the day, or Mexican shoppers making sure they got the newest, freshest tortillas out of what was there. I love a handpatted tortilla as much as the next guy, but the factorymade kind are no more inferior by definition than rye is inferior to wheat bread, or Burt's crust is inferior to Spacca Napoli's-- it's just a style, each has its proper uses (the handmade tortillas are often too thick for some applications), and you may prefer whichever you prefer, but the other is certainly not "wrong."



    I, too, express thanks for the abundance of local sources for excellent factory-made tortillas -- and when I shop, I'm right there with the locals feeling around in the boxes for the softest, warmest, freshest bag.

    BUT...

    Factory-made and house-made tortillas are not analogous to rye and wheat bread, which are made with different ingredients. Yes, house-made can be thicker, but in most cases they have more of what I want in a tortilla: they’re softer, warmer, fresher and (this is a big one) moister. Dryness is the great enemy of all sandwiches (and a taco is a kind of sandwich); the fresher the tortilla, the moister, the better. Also, the fresher the tortilla (meaning right off the griddle as opposed to right off the truck), the more absorbent it is, so the juices of the carne asada or whatever sink into the tortilla, creating a more unified and tasty fistful of food.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #37 - March 8th, 2010, 12:05 pm
    Post #37 - March 8th, 2010, 12:05 pm Post #37 - March 8th, 2010, 12:05 pm
    Well said, Mr. Hammond. Right as you are, there are unfortunately some places where "hecha a mano" does not lead to the improvements you note. Some places have an abuela or other dedicated tortillera who only comes in periodically. The tortillas she makes are then used throughout the week, so sometimes you get day-old, hand-made tortillas. I'd much rather have fresh ones from the factory.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #38 - March 8th, 2010, 1:24 pm
    Post #38 - March 8th, 2010, 1:24 pm Post #38 - March 8th, 2010, 1:24 pm
    dak125 wrote:I ask them to make the pork 'crispy' (they throw it on the grill for a couple of minutes), it turns out great! Love this place.


    I just had some deliciousness from Carniceria Leon. We had 12 crispy Pastor tacos for three guys and it was amazing, as usual. Make sure you have them make them crispy!
  • Post #39 - March 8th, 2010, 1:31 pm
    Post #39 - March 8th, 2010, 1:31 pm Post #39 - March 8th, 2010, 1:31 pm
    The German officer looked at Pike Bishop. "Factory-made and house-made tortillas are not analogous to rye and wheat bread, which are made with different ingredients."

    Bishop rolled his eyes. Scratch a Prussian and you get a half hour about rye bread, he thought to himself. The German officer went on, and then suddenly he said something that caught Bishop up short.

    "Dryness is ze great enemy of all sandwiches," the German said, "and after all, a taco iss a kind of sandwich."

    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #40 - March 8th, 2010, 3:18 pm
    Post #40 - March 8th, 2010, 3:18 pm Post #40 - March 8th, 2010, 3:18 pm
    The taco: Mexico's answer to the sandwich.
  • Post #41 - March 17th, 2010, 2:26 pm
    Post #41 - March 17th, 2010, 2:26 pm Post #41 - March 17th, 2010, 2:26 pm
    Another great lunch at TC. Two al pastor tacos and a really delicious taco special "bistec ala mexicana." Went around 1:30 and was a little surprised to see they had just put on a new wheel of al pastor. Usually at this time, the lunch rush has passed and the pastor has had some time to develop a good char. Fortunately, they had pastor left from the previous one, and there were plenty of nice charred crispy bits. I always order one of the day's special tacos, and the bistec ala mexicana was very good. Recipes online say it is strips of steak sauteed and quickly braised with onions, green chiles, tomatoes, garlic and stock. While there was only a little bit of green chili and no tomatoes visible to me, the beef was flavorful and moist and I'd definitely recommend getting them if they are on special that day.
  • Post #42 - March 17th, 2010, 3:16 pm
    Post #42 - March 17th, 2010, 3:16 pm Post #42 - March 17th, 2010, 3:16 pm
    I was there for lunch today as well. Tacos de chivo w/braised meat, crisped and unctuous glorious goat fat mingling w/cilantro, savoya and avocate. Squeeze of lime and some salsa verde... best $5. I've spent in a long time.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #43 - March 17th, 2010, 4:08 pm
    Post #43 - March 17th, 2010, 4:08 pm Post #43 - March 17th, 2010, 4:08 pm
    Went here for a quick bite last Saturday night, which was the first time I'd ever been there on the weekend or after dark (6:30ish). Truth be told, of all my visits this was the most eh, mostly due to the stale tortillas. Meat was a tad dry, too, but no way will this keep me from coming back!
  • Post #44 - March 17th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    Post #44 - March 17th, 2010, 4:47 pm Post #44 - March 17th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    Vitesse98 wrote:Went here for a quick bite last Saturday night, which was the first time I'd ever been there on the weekend or after dark (6:30ish).


    How late do they stay open?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #45 - April 17th, 2010, 4:45 pm
    Post #45 - April 17th, 2010, 4:45 pm Post #45 - April 17th, 2010, 4:45 pm
    The wife and I had a fantastic lunch here today, which really exorcised the memory of a horrible dinner last night. We had some asada, some al pastor and some lengua. As usual, all the meats were delicious and the tortillas were tender and fragrant. Both the red and green salsa were as good as ever -- distincitve and bursting with flavor. Happily, a big basket of grilled jalapenos was also available and I snagged a couple, which provided a perfect accent for my lunch.

    As an extra added bonus, we ran into Evil Ronnie (ironically, far less evil than this Ronnie) and The Lovely Donna, who were also stopping in for lunch. We sat with them and had a wonderful chat while we enjoyed our tacos.

    For me, this place is such a trump card of taco-dom and I really needed that after last night's dinner. Craving sated. Also, it seems like I've never been here without running into another LTHer and today was no exception. Just a great highlight of my day to visit with these guys over such a wonderful feast. :)

    =R=
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  • Post #46 - April 23rd, 2010, 3:07 pm
    Post #46 - April 23rd, 2010, 3:07 pm Post #46 - April 23rd, 2010, 3:07 pm
    stevez wrote:
    Jamieson22 wrote:So I had lunch a few weeks back at their 2nd location (I assume it is the second location based on exhaustive investigative measures of the name) and was very underwhelmed.

    I had gone with a rajas gordita, pastor taco and lomo taco. Perhaps it was bad ordering at the time but nothing was all that exciting and I was picking up a harsh solventy taste in their red salsa.

    Any comparisons between the two?

    Carniceria y Taqueria Tierra Caliente #2‎
    2556 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL‎ - (773) 486-5936‎


    I'd recommend visiting the main location.


    I just took my first go at TC#2, and was very impressed. Got a chorizo, al pastor, and cabeza. The cabeza was a mix of brain and face meat, but lacked flavor alongside the chorizo and al pastor.

    The chorizo punched me in the mouth, and was somehow not greasy OR dry. In a word, balanced. It had sooo much flavor, with a very healthy portion of meat; yet it didn't weigh me down. The al pastor was just as described and pictured in this thread, charred bits and all. Delicious!

    They were also running some specials including chicharron w/salsa verde, where the pork skin was already mixed with the sauce. Didn't try it, but it looked great.

    Someone here had mentioned a chorizo/pastor mixed taco, and would guess that TC#2 would be happy to take it as a request. But ultimately, if heavy foot traffic is your concern for not getting the tasty charred bits at the original, I would suggest TC#2 would deliver your fix at any time of day.

    Tierra Caliente #2‎
    2556 West Armitage Ave.
    (773) 486-5936
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #47 - May 1st, 2010, 10:41 am
    Post #47 - May 1st, 2010, 10:41 am Post #47 - May 1st, 2010, 10:41 am
    I knew there would be heavy traffic on a midday Friday so before heading south to Uncle Johns we had to stop for a few tacos at Tierra Caliente. I forget the name (anyone know?) but I went with a few steak/al pastor combo tacos. WOW! Its like Mexican cuisines ode to the almighty Chicago combo. I love them. Whats not to like about beef and pork?

    JeffB wrote:The taco: Mexico's answer to the sandwich.


    Image
    Mexico's answer to the Combo

    I've really been waiting to try the campechanos tacos (carnitas y chorizo) but haven't seen them on any of my visits. If anyone does let us know. Thanks.

    Tierra Caliente
    1402 N Ashland Ave
    Chicago, IL 60622
  • Post #48 - May 1st, 2010, 12:42 pm
    Post #48 - May 1st, 2010, 12:42 pm Post #48 - May 1st, 2010, 12:42 pm
    I believe the compechano's are the pastor and asada.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #49 - May 1st, 2010, 1:00 pm
    Post #49 - May 1st, 2010, 1:00 pm Post #49 - May 1st, 2010, 1:00 pm
    I thought it was roast pork and crispy skin. :)
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #50 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 pm
    Post #50 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 pm Post #50 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 pm
    the best tacos campechanos to get, in my opinion, is the Carnitas and Chorizo. It's only available on weekends due to carnitas being a weekend thing. I take it campechano means something like mixed... Not sure... But would be best off to specifically ask for the carnitas/chorizo combination. Trust me.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #51 - May 2nd, 2010, 12:23 am
    Post #51 - May 2nd, 2010, 12:23 am Post #51 - May 2nd, 2010, 12:23 am
    Jazzfood wrote:I believe the compechano's are the pastor and asada.
    When I've had Canpechanos at Tierra Caliente its been chorizo/carnitas mix. Delicious, well worth seeking out.

    Tacos Canpechanos (chorizo/carnitas mix)

    Image

    Tierra Caliente (was Carniceria Leon)
    1400 N Ashland
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773-772-9804
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #52 - May 2nd, 2010, 11:14 am
    Post #52 - May 2nd, 2010, 11:14 am Post #52 - May 2nd, 2010, 11:14 am
    laikom wrote:the best tacos campechanos to get, in my opinion, is the Carnitas and Chorizo. It's only available on weekends due to carnitas being a weekend thing. I take it campechano means something like mixed... Not sure... But would be best off to specifically ask for the carnitas/chorizo combination. Trust me.


    Campechano describes something from Campeche city or state, bridge to the Yucatan. The canpechano spelling is also used, after the way many in the region pronounce the place-names, closer to the Maya Kanpech (k'iin pech, snake place).

    Cemitas Puebla interestingly has the similar Gobernador Precioso - chorizo and carne asada - which is named after a Blagojevich-type character who heads the state of Puebla and likes everything with extra grease.
  • Post #53 - May 2nd, 2010, 1:10 pm
    Post #53 - May 2nd, 2010, 1:10 pm Post #53 - May 2nd, 2010, 1:10 pm
    I knew that if I just guessed what it meant, someone knowledgeable would correct me. Thanks Santander!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #54 - May 9th, 2010, 7:15 am
    Post #54 - May 9th, 2010, 7:15 am Post #54 - May 9th, 2010, 7:15 am
    Finally got a return trip backe here, my previous visit was good, but part of the burrito crawl last year which really didnt do this or any of the other places visited that day any justice.

    I got here around 10:45, and spied the cone of al pastor, appeared juicy and crunchy. the grill was loaded down with slabs of steak, and carne asada was being chopped. Jackpot.

    Since this was just my breakfast on a day with many food stops ahead(Toons, Big Star, chinatown), i opted for 1 al pastor taco, and one carne asada taco. That and a bottle of pepsi set me back about $7-$8 with tip.

    The tacos.... I couldnt deside which i liked better as I alternated bites of each. Carne asada was excellent, charred, and pretty lean. al pastor was really nice as well, crisp, and alot of flavor. Great 1st stop, it set the bar pretty high for the rest of the day:

    carne asada taco:

    Image


    al pastor taco:

    Image

    some of the best tacos Ive had in Chicago.. perhaps
  • Post #55 - May 15th, 2010, 6:27 pm
    Post #55 - May 15th, 2010, 6:27 pm Post #55 - May 15th, 2010, 6:27 pm
    Mrs. Trpt and I were out on the west side today, so I decided to drive home down Ashland and stop at Tierra Caliente and check it out. We got there about 2:00.

    First the good: al pastor was wonderful. Maybe the best I've had in Chicago. Nice char, tasty, however no pineapple. That's OK. They were huge.

    Next the not so good: the carne asada. Tough, dry, obviously griddled. Maybe it had been sitting around too long. But way below what I get from El Asadero on Montrose.

    More good: four tacos with two sodas, I got change from a ten. The original plan had been to stop at El Presidente for some takeout menudo (I know, I know, but Mrs. Trpt really likes the menudo there) but opted instead for menudo para llevar at Tierra Caliente. Preliminary reports were very favorable (she tried it, I didn't).

    They were out of chivo by 2:00 but I'll give that a shot later on. Very nice. It's a sort of place you can close your eyes and think you're in Guanajuato or San Luis Obispo. Definitely we'll be back for more al pastor.
    trpt2345
  • Post #56 - May 15th, 2010, 6:42 pm
    Post #56 - May 15th, 2010, 6:42 pm Post #56 - May 15th, 2010, 6:42 pm
    On Saturdays, the chivo is usually gone by noon, which also means they're often out of it until Monday eve.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #57 - May 24th, 2010, 10:22 pm
    Post #57 - May 24th, 2010, 10:22 pm Post #57 - May 24th, 2010, 10:22 pm
    JeffB wrote:The taco: Mexico's answer to the sandwich.


    Well, the torta would probably be a little more accurate
    trpt2345
  • Post #58 - May 25th, 2010, 10:12 am
    Post #58 - May 25th, 2010, 10:12 am Post #58 - May 25th, 2010, 10:12 am
    That was sarcasm. Tacos were eaten long before anyone showed up in the New World with bread, let alone sandwiches. It was a weak attempt to poke fun at the need to force other cultures' foods into a Western ideal.
  • Post #59 - June 29th, 2010, 6:04 pm
    Post #59 - June 29th, 2010, 6:04 pm Post #59 - June 29th, 2010, 6:04 pm
    A most excellent lunch of two el pastor tacos had me thinking of Big Star, the last place I had pastor at. There is simply no comparison as regards the food. At approximately 2pm, everything was spot-on - crispy pastor, giant basket of grilled, salted jalapenos and warm tortillas, albeit from the nuker.

    Long story short. Go to Tierra Caliente for the food then get wasted. Go to Big Star to get wasted, then eat some food. It might taste OK.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #60 - June 30th, 2010, 1:44 pm
    Post #60 - June 30th, 2010, 1:44 pm Post #60 - June 30th, 2010, 1:44 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    Jazzfood wrote:I believe the compechano's are the pastor and asada.
    When I've had Canpechanos at Tierra Caliente its been chorizo/carnitas mix. Delicious, well worth seeking out.

    Tacos Canpechanos (chorizo/carnitas mix)

    Image


    I had a Canpechano taco (or was it Campechano, I should have paid better attention to the menu), which was described on the menu as being steak and marinated pork. Indeed, what I received was a delicious and generous mix of steak and al pastor. Now I've gotta try that steak and chorizo mix Gary mentioned.

    Can(m)pechano Taco
    Image

    I've recently been turned on to the wonders of beef tongue, and got a lengua and an al pastor taco which were both fantastic.

    Lengua Taco
    Image

    Today's lunch was a reminder that I don't get to TC nearly as often as I should.

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