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Carnitas La Esquinita - Barbacoa, Carnitas & Caldo de Pollo

Carnitas La Esquinita - Barbacoa, Carnitas & Caldo de Pollo
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  • Carnitas La Esquinita - Barbacoa, Carnitas & Caldo de Pollo

    Post #1 - October 5th, 2018, 7:55 am
    Post #1 - October 5th, 2018, 7:55 am Post #1 - October 5th, 2018, 7:55 am
    Carnitas La Esquinita has been on my MustTry list since trixie-pea / @trixiekristinakim mentioned, with a shoutout by Da Beef / @chibbqking, on Instagram. Barbacoa & carnitas tip-top, caldo de pollo good as I've had in ages.

    Full menu of soups, tacos, tortas, burritos and breakfast, friendly service, table seating and long hours.

    CLEP1.jpg Caldo de Pollo

    CLEP3.jpg Accompaniments

    CLEP2.jpg Barbacoa & Carnitas. Delicious but not very photogenic.

    Carnitas La Esquinta, Count me a Fan!

    Carnitas La Esquinta
    3424 W Irving Park Rd
    Chicago, IL 60618
    773-249-7202
    8am - 10:45 Daily
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #2 - October 6th, 2018, 3:02 pm
    Post #2 - October 6th, 2018, 3:02 pm Post #2 - October 6th, 2018, 3:02 pm
    So glad this is on the radar. We had lunch here earlier today and were very pleased by the food and the warm, hospitable service . . .

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    Carnitas La Esquinita, 3424 W Irving Park Road

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    Menu, Cover
    I had a good chuckle when I saw this schematic.

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    Menu, Page 1

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    Menu, Page 2

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    Menu, Page 3

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    Menu, Page 4

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    Menu, Page 5

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    Carnitas, una libra
    The namesake item was just terrific. Really, some of the most enjoyable carnitas I've ever had. Not only was the pork flavor really intense, but the textural contrasts of the meat made it a pleasure to eat. Even after we were full, it was hard to stop picking at this plate of goodness.

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    Tacos de Barbacoa
    This was some tender and flavorful goat on these tortillas.

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    Pozole Rojo con Puerco
    I really enjoyed this rich, flavorful bowl, which in addition to some perfectly cooked carrots and cabbage, also contained very tasty pieces of tender pork and soft hominy. A green version, with chicken instead of pork, is also available.

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    Burrito de Carne Asada
    Good stuff, though it wouldn't necessarily be at the top of my 'order it again' list.

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    Caldo De Res
    I only spectated this bowl of beef soup -- and did not try it -- but my companion seemed to enjoy it.

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    Caldo De Pollo
    A flavorful and not-too-salty broth, and some very tender, bone-in pieces of chicken. This was a helluva nice bowl.

    When it comes to Mexican food in Chicago, we are truly spoiled. Add Carnitas La Esquinita to the list of places that make it so.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - October 7th, 2018, 9:33 am
    Post #3 - October 7th, 2018, 9:33 am Post #3 - October 7th, 2018, 9:33 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:So glad this is on the radar. We had lunch here earlier today and were very pleased by the food and the warm, hospitable service . . .

    Glad you dug Carnitas La Esquinita, I've just had one visit but see many more in my future. Kudos on the terrific carnitas pic, carnitas and wings from Great Sea never live up to their deliciousness in my photos.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - October 7th, 2018, 10:33 am
    Post #4 - October 7th, 2018, 10:33 am Post #4 - October 7th, 2018, 10:33 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:So glad this is on the radar. We had lunch here earlier today and were very pleased by the food and the warm, hospitable service . . .

    Glad you dug Carnitas La Esquinita, I've just had one visit but see many more in my future. Kudos on the terrific carnitas pic, carnitas and wings from Great Sea never live up to their deliciousness in my photos.

    Pigmon and Trixie-Pea had both mentioned it a few times and I'd been meaning to go but your post pushed it into priority territory. I brought my big camera, so the pic more or less took itself.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - October 8th, 2018, 9:39 am
    Post #5 - October 8th, 2018, 9:39 am Post #5 - October 8th, 2018, 9:39 am
    Thanks for posting, I live a few blocks away and have never thought to try this place.
  • Post #6 - October 31st, 2018, 2:17 pm
    Post #6 - October 31st, 2018, 2:17 pm Post #6 - October 31st, 2018, 2:17 pm
    More delicious food and warm hospitality at lunch earlier today . . .

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    Carnitas, 1 pound
    Even better, perhaps, than the batch about which I posted upthread.

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    Barbacoa, 1 pound
    We were told that the meat used for barbacoa does indeed change from time to time. Today it was cabeza de vaca. Unbelievably unctuous, tender and delicious.

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    Grilled Onions and Peppers
    A very tasty accompaniment.

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    Caldo de Pollo
    The cure for what ails you.

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    Sope de Al Pastor
    It's under there, at least I think it was. :wink:

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    Cooking The Carnitas
    Chef Oscar, whose sister-in-law owns the restaurant, recognized us because he also cooks at Khan BBQ. He invited us to come back to the kitchen and see the carnitas being cooked. He told us that some people have erroneously assumed that the carnitas are not made in house. It's pretty clear that they are.

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    Carnitas In Motion
    That is one big-ass cauldron of delicious!

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - November 16th, 2018, 11:08 am
    Post #7 - November 16th, 2018, 11:08 am Post #7 - November 16th, 2018, 11:08 am
    Mike Sula (nobly undeterred by budget cuts on a sinking ship) has a very nice piece about CLE this week at The Reader's website . . .

    at chicagoreader.com, Mike Sula wrote:The restaurant may not do the traffic of Carnitas Don Pedro, but the pork stays consistently moist anyway. That's because once it's done cooking, Hernandez doesn't keep it under heat lamps, but instead leaves it in the pan, effectively making confit, a meat cooked and preserved in its own fat. When an order comes in, he chops it up on the flattop, achieving an ideal matrix of tender shoulder and chewy skin, a perfect balance of the fatty, meaty, and crispy. Cilantro, raw chopped onion, and a squirt of lime are all that's needed to check the exquisite richness.

    Carnitas La Esquinita hides in plain sight

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #8 - November 16th, 2018, 11:56 am
    Post #8 - November 16th, 2018, 11:56 am Post #8 - November 16th, 2018, 11:56 am
    top of my list
  • Post #9 - November 26th, 2018, 12:45 pm
    Post #9 - November 26th, 2018, 12:45 pm Post #9 - November 26th, 2018, 12:45 pm
    B18E4ED7-182B-435A-B2C0-26C8B689ACCD.jpeg Goat barbacoa
    I’m not sure what I can add that has not been said already. This place is a gem. Lunch for two consisted of deeply flavorful goat barbacoa tacos, and the aforementioned namesake dish. Just delicious. Bulgarian Mavrud is a great wine match, as long as you go easy on the heat.
    C4B066F1-12D3-42D9-9F30-93E7B7B7B4CE.jpeg Bulgarian Mavrud
    A7AAA7C6-20F9-4DE1-BB9E-5C34401230D2.jpeg Carnitas
  • Post #10 - December 17th, 2018, 3:35 pm
    Post #10 - December 17th, 2018, 3:35 pm Post #10 - December 17th, 2018, 3:35 pm
    Never even thought of trying this place since from the outside it looks like a corner convenient store that gets robbed hourly, but after reading this thread I knew I had to. I live 4-5 blocks away for the past 11 years so a little embarrassed that I never gave it a try before.

    Took home 1/2 lb of carnitas and 1/2 lb of steak barbacoa (I asked if it was goat and was told it was steak). Also got the guac (very expensive at $10, but delicious and too much for 2 people to finish).

    Food was great, simple and delicious. Will definitely be a regular now.
  • Post #11 - December 22nd, 2018, 11:03 am
    Post #11 - December 22nd, 2018, 11:03 am Post #11 - December 22nd, 2018, 11:03 am
    Enjoyed the carnitas last night. My only quibble was I didn't get any cilantro and onion, which I should have just asked for, and the two table salsas were no big shakes. No heat meant my 2012 Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato was so delicious with the carnitas. I really love Arianna's wines.

    I arrived about 6:45 on my way to see some music. Only one single diner was finishing up when I arrived and two people came in for a pick up by the time I left at 7:45 on a Friday night. Hopefully that isn't a regular occurance.

    The opening night of the 29th Annual Winter Solstice at Constellation was a magical evening yesterday. The unusual combination of two drummers/percussionists and a bass in Hamid Drake, Tatsu Aoki, and Michael Zerang always over performs my expectations. They were celebrating Tatsu's 60th birthday as well as Michael's birthday. Hamid told a long heartfelt story about what Tatsu and Michael's long friendship has meant to him. They were joined by Tatsu's Miyune Project for the second set. For those who haven't been, Constellation is an awesome room for music.
  • Post #12 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:10 pm
    Post #12 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:10 pm Post #12 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:10 pm
    My maiden voyage to Carnitas La Equinita was a rousing success. Red pozole, barbacoa and carnitas all hit their marks beautifully.

    One data point on the barbacoa mystery - I asked if they had beef or goat barbacoa and she said beef. She followed that up by saying they never have goat but it's clear that the rumor is out there and she doesn't know why. To that I'd add that the gaminess of that uber tender meat would have had me wagering cash money that it was in fact goat had I not been so firmly told it was not. Whatever animal it comes from, I'll be back for more.
  • Post #13 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:14 pm
    Post #13 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:14 pm Post #13 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:14 pm
    Awesome my maiden voyage for Friday lunch was also a rousing success.

    Carried out 1/2lb carnitas, 1/2lb barbacoa. Came with tortillas, limes, onions, cilantro, salsas.

    Friendly owner and chef. Food was so flavorful. My wife and I had for lunch, then I was also able to have dinner with the leftovers.

    Ready to get my Chunker on all winter at this place!
  • Post #14 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:20 pm
    Post #14 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:20 pm Post #14 - December 22nd, 2018, 5:20 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Whatever animal it comes from, I'll be back for more.
    I've been to Carnitas La Esquinita 4-5 times, told something different every time I've asked. I'm fairly certain the correct barbacoa answer is beef though, like you, will be back regardless of animal source.

    Carnitas La Esquinita, Count me a Fan!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #15 - June 5th, 2019, 10:29 pm
    Post #15 - June 5th, 2019, 10:29 pm Post #15 - June 5th, 2019, 10:29 pm
    Bump for consistent deliciousness and a reminder for those who missed the late 2018 frenzy about this place really should check it out.
    Webp.net-resizeimage.jpg
  • Post #16 - June 11th, 2019, 10:17 pm
    Post #16 - June 11th, 2019, 10:17 pm Post #16 - June 11th, 2019, 10:17 pm
    Carnitas is tip top (make sure to ask for mixtos with buche and skin), other meats well above average. Our #1 go-to for all things Mexican (except asada) on the north side at the moment.

    I am chiming in here because I think the best item is being overlooked. The menudo is so rich with gelatin it hardly moves in the bowl, even when it's piping hot. Various types of tripe is used. Some of which I haven't seen in other menudos are really meaty and tender. Most bowls tend to be broth and tripe, but I do get the occasional ankle, and one time I got a pig nose. No wonder the broth is so rich assuming they get whole hogs in for the carnitas, all that rich juice has to go somewhere. Love the carnitas, but the menudo is the star for me.

    On a negative note, those chips have to be some of the worst, and someone has got to tell them to cut the onions fresh, or learn how to store them so as they don't oxidize. They smell more of B.O. than a taco bell bean burrito.
    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 #17 - June 11th, 2019, 10:51 pm
    Post #17 - June 11th, 2019, 10:51 pm Post #17 - June 11th, 2019, 10:51 pm
    laikom wrote:On a negative note, those chips have to be some of the worst . . .

    I've had widely varying chips there . . . even within the same visit. First basket, so good we polished them off in moments. Second basket seemed like they were from another planet. Not just not as fresh but like a totally different food. A minor quibble given the overall high quality of the main offerings.

    Is the menudo weekends only? I don't remember it ever being available when I've been there.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #18 - June 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm
    Post #18 - June 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm Post #18 - June 11th, 2019, 11:07 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Is the menudo weekends only? I don't remember it ever being available when I've been there.


    Menudo 7 days a week!
    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 #19 - June 11th, 2019, 11:09 pm
    Post #19 - June 11th, 2019, 11:09 pm Post #19 - June 11th, 2019, 11:09 pm
    laikom wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Is the menudo weekends only? I don't remember it ever being available when I've been there.


    Menudo 7 days a week!

    Excellent. Will give it a whirl asap. Thanks. :)

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #20 - June 27th, 2019, 2:05 pm
    Post #20 - June 27th, 2019, 2:05 pm Post #20 - June 27th, 2019, 2:05 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    laikom wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Is the menudo weekends only? I don't remember it ever being available when I've been there.


    Menudo 7 days a week!

    Excellent. Will give it a whirl asap. Thanks. :)

    =R=

    Menudo was very good but still second fiddle, imo, to the eponymous carnitas . . .

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    Menudo Con Pata
    Deeply flavored and rich broth.

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    Carnitas
    Stellar, as always.

    Chips (not pictured) tasted like they'd been left out in the rain and re-dried on a radiator. :(

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #21 - June 27th, 2019, 7:11 pm
    Post #21 - June 27th, 2019, 7:11 pm Post #21 - June 27th, 2019, 7:11 pm
    It was the best menudo I've ever had. And hate to admit, the only! Though it's probably the first tripe dish I'd ever heard of and definitely a taboo in my gringo upbringing.

    And I do love tripe, the squeaky clean texture it adds to pho. The meaty slices in Chinese beef & maw cold dishes. I'm a huge fan of the thick gelatinous slices in Podhalanka's soup. Not to mention the much-closer-to-the-business-end tripas I adore at La Chap... none of these taste or smell like poop though (or barnyardy in polite foodie-ese)

    This version isn't that manure-y, but its there. There's a lot to love– gelatin for days, velvet-y hunks of texturally diverse tripe pieces, a good spike of guajillo chiles. I liked it, but there was just enough eau de anus for it to not be totally delicious. And I cannot imagine facing that stank dealing with a hangover.

    Carnitas were great though!
  • Post #22 - June 27th, 2019, 7:13 pm
    Post #22 - June 27th, 2019, 7:13 pm Post #22 - June 27th, 2019, 7:13 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Chips (not pictured) tasted like they'd been left out in the rain and re-dried on a radiator. :(

    =R=


    Best description I've seen in a long time :D
  • Post #23 - June 27th, 2019, 10:14 pm
    Post #23 - June 27th, 2019, 10:14 pm Post #23 - June 27th, 2019, 10:14 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Chips (not pictured) tasted like they'd been left out in the rain and re-dried on a radiator. :(

    lougord99 wrote:Best description I've seen in a long time :D

    Good, actually very good, but outshined by
    Jefe wrote:I liked it, but there was just enough eau de anus for it to not be totally delicious.
    My vote for LTH quote of the day, week, month, year.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #24 - June 28th, 2019, 2:39 pm
    Post #24 - June 28th, 2019, 2:39 pm Post #24 - June 28th, 2019, 2:39 pm
    They need to get their chip game together. When last there they were the low point of an otherwise excellent meal.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata

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