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Tierra Caliente #2 - Armitage and Rockwell

Tierra Caliente #2 - Armitage and Rockwell
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  • Tierra Caliente #2 - Armitage and Rockwell

    Post #1 - September 28th, 2013, 10:10 am
    Post #1 - September 28th, 2013, 10:10 am Post #1 - September 28th, 2013, 10:10 am
    I've been going here for a few years, and have always thought TC2 deserved it's own thread despite it's relation to the Ashland location. On yesterday's visit, the chef revealed that they are no longer related (different owners and different cooks); so here we are.

    Yesterday, we got the ceviche special, al pastor and lengua. The al pastor was perfect at 10:15, and the lengua, which was being prepped in front of us, was the best I've ever had. Upon, sharing my sentiments with the chef, he replied with "I know" - followed by a big smile. He went on to tell us that none of the restaurants do it right. Sounds a little cocky, but my taste buds appreciate the pride put into the product. On other visits I've had the chorizo, cabeza, higado y cebolla, and campechanos. Also the menudo, and other soups. I've never been disappointed, and would love to get some other recent/future LTH feedback on the joint.

    Ceviche:
    Image

    Image

    Tierra Caliente #2‎
    2556 West Armitage Ave.
    (773) 486-5936
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #2 - November 8th, 2013, 5:50 am
    Post #2 - November 8th, 2013, 5:50 am Post #2 - November 8th, 2013, 5:50 am
    LTH,

    I'm about to say something bold. Tierra Caliente #2 has the best lengua and al pastor tacos in the city. You only need your lengua for this lengua, and the al pastor actually tastes of pork. The chorizo and the "tierra caliente" (marinated steak in special brown sauce) are my third and fourth favorite tacos in the city. As mentioned before, the chef is very passionate about his craft, and knows he is making some of the best Mexican food in the city. I can't believe this place is getting no love!

    The cell pic doesn't do them justice, as these are some FAT tacos.

    Lengua, chorizo, al pastor, tierra calinete:
    Image

    Also, not sure of there is a sweet spot for the pastor, but my usual visits are between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #3 - November 8th, 2013, 7:07 am
    Post #3 - November 8th, 2013, 7:07 am Post #3 - November 8th, 2013, 7:07 am
    Sweetbread wrote:I'm about to say something bold. Tierra Caliente #2 has the best lengua and al pastor tacos in the city.
    Those look terrific, going to have some very (very) soon.

    Speaking of rocking al pastor and lengua, I had one of each at the new El Chapin, formerly Tierra Caliente #1, Wednesday and they were as good if not better than always.

    El Chapin, Lengua/Al Pastor

    (cell phone pic)
    Image

    El Chapin
    1402 N Ashland Ave
    Chicago, IL 60622
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - November 8th, 2013, 7:11 am
    Post #4 - November 8th, 2013, 7:11 am Post #4 - November 8th, 2013, 7:11 am
    I wonder if Tierra Caliente #2 is now El Chapin #2.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - November 11th, 2013, 11:54 pm
    Post #5 - November 11th, 2013, 11:54 pm Post #5 - November 11th, 2013, 11:54 pm
    I somehow just realized there was a dedicated thread to TC2. I want to chime in and say that TC2 has always lived up to the standards and expectations of the original, and since opening I've recognized staff from the original so I see no reason there would be a difference in quality.
    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 #6 - February 22nd, 2014, 6:36 pm
    Post #6 - February 22nd, 2014, 6:36 pm Post #6 - February 22nd, 2014, 6:36 pm
    This place is still Tierra Caliente #2, even though there is no longer a Tierra Caliente #1 or even an El Chapin.
    I stopped in for lunch today and ordered one birria and one pastor taco. The counterman slipped me an extra birria, bringing my total to 3 for the same price. So I feel guilty in not giving a positive report but . . . the meat in both kinds of tacos was dry, and the birria had some slivers of bone. Flavor was pretty good, but it all paled in comparison to what I used to get at the original Ashland location.
    Can't see any reason to choose this place over Chaparrita in the future.
  • Post #7 - March 10th, 2014, 2:59 pm
    Post #7 - March 10th, 2014, 2:59 pm Post #7 - March 10th, 2014, 2:59 pm
    TomInSkokie wrote:Can't see any reason to choose this place over Chaparrita in the future.


    I have not been in TC#2 in a while, so I can't speak about the current product, but this comparison seems irrelevant to me. They are a significant distance from one another, with many decent taquerias spread throughout the city. I'm a taco fiend, but never find myself picking between 2 places that far apart. Furthermore, the types of tacos they serve almost couldn't be further from each other, completely different styles. When I'm in the mood for one, I'm rarely in the mood for the other.
    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 #8 - March 10th, 2014, 6:46 pm
    Post #8 - March 10th, 2014, 6:46 pm Post #8 - March 10th, 2014, 6:46 pm
    After posting today, I decided to swing by for dinner tacos. There were slight differences about the space, most of which I couldn't list. Small familiarities missing, such as there were no diet beverages, different tortillas, but also strange was that there were no familiar faces in the place. It was like a twilight zone, walking into an old family home to find another family my family's place, acting in the same way as if nothing changed. It was eerie.

    The tacos were definitely different. Most notably, they do not serve barbacoa, lengua, or birria on week days under this new management. TC always had barbacoa, and lengua, both of which were my favorites. This was very sad. Really all they had to offer fresh was al pastor, and I think chorizo, and the steam tray offerings, including some old asada steaming in some broth. This all sounds like a deal breaker, but surprisingly the al pastor, was quite good. Similar to the original TC recipe, but firmer and sliced thinly. It was still made from shoulder meat with the fatty chunks, though leaner, but not dry at all. It had nice crispy bits mixed with tender meaty slices. The spicing was milder on all accounts than the original TC recipe, less spices, and less salt. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and if it's consistent I'm happy to have another decent option around. I won't be there quite as often simple for the fact that they don't have the barbacoa, lengua, or birria on weekdays, I only hope they do a decent job of those on weekends. For all the microwaved-tortilla objectors, they griddle the tortillas on an oiled griddle.
    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 #9 - March 11th, 2014, 5:55 am
    Post #9 - March 11th, 2014, 5:55 am Post #9 - March 11th, 2014, 5:55 am
    I've only been once since I saw El Chapin get packed into a van and transplanted to the TC2 location (2/2/14). Three weeks ago, they definitely had the lengua midweek and midday. However, the kitchen staff was not as familiar, and the lengua not as tender -but still good. The El Chapin van has been parked in the neighborhood since the move. Does anyone know the full story? Which chef is Jose? Are those his awards stripped from TC1, and posted at TC2?

    Bueller?
    Bueller?
    Jazzfood?
    Bueller?
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #10 - March 11th, 2014, 7:47 am
    Post #10 - March 11th, 2014, 7:47 am Post #10 - March 11th, 2014, 7:47 am
    Sweetbread wrote:Which chef is Jose? Are those his awards stripped from TC1, and posted at TC2?


    From Jazzfood on the El Chapin thread:

    "As mentioned up thread, Jose (the keeper of the pastor) has landed @ Picante on Division, where they will slowly be working his food onto the menu. A trompo has been purchased and is in use already w/more to come."
  • Post #11 - March 11th, 2014, 9:25 am
    Post #11 - March 11th, 2014, 9:25 am Post #11 - March 11th, 2014, 9:25 am
    deesher wrote:
    Sweetbread wrote:Which chef is Jose? Are those his awards stripped from TC1, and posted at TC2?


    From Jazzfood on the El Chapin thread:

    "As mentioned up thread, Jose (the keeper of the pastor) has landed @ Picante on Division, where they will slowly be working his food onto the menu. A trompo has been purchased and is in use already w/more to come."


    That much I got, but is this the same Jose that has been serving my favorite lengua and pastor at TC2 for the last year?
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #12 - March 11th, 2014, 1:13 pm
    Post #12 - March 11th, 2014, 1:13 pm Post #12 - March 11th, 2014, 1:13 pm
    Perhaps. Or maybe it's Jos-b?
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #13 - March 12th, 2014, 6:02 pm
    Post #13 - March 12th, 2014, 6:02 pm Post #13 - March 12th, 2014, 6:02 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:Perhaps. Or maybe it's Jos-b?


    Doesn't matter. Everything was on today around noon. Laikom was right about no diet products, but they did have the lengua...and it was as good as ever.

    From left to right: Pastor, Lengua, Tierra Caliente


    Image

    Image
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #14 - March 12th, 2014, 9:32 pm
    Post #14 - March 12th, 2014, 9:32 pm Post #14 - March 12th, 2014, 9:32 pm
    Thanks for doing some follow-up legwork Sweetbread. Now talk them into keeping the barbacoa available weekdays and I'll be a happy camper! :)
    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 #15 - April 12th, 2014, 8:03 am
    Post #15 - April 12th, 2014, 8:03 am Post #15 - April 12th, 2014, 8:03 am
    Didn't ask about the barbacoa on weekdays, but did get them to put their chicken mole special in a taco. Our main man was back this Thursday, and the pastor was better than ever.

    Mole, Lengua, Pastor.

    Image
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #16 - April 12th, 2014, 8:08 am
    Post #16 - April 12th, 2014, 8:08 am Post #16 - April 12th, 2014, 8:08 am
    Jose aka Jos-b has left the bldg. It's could very well be him as his Picante adventure is no mas.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #17 - June 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm
    Post #17 - June 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm Post #17 - June 3rd, 2014, 7:29 pm
    Stopped by here a while ago, and had some outstanding tacos - so much so that I preferred them to La Chaparrita (though without quite the variety, of course). But, every bit as good in that one try as the ones I loved from Tierra Caliente #1 on Ashland...

    c8w
  • Post #18 - August 27th, 2014, 2:49 pm
    Post #18 - August 27th, 2014, 2:49 pm Post #18 - August 27th, 2014, 2:49 pm
    Wow! I have been looking for a satisfying, authentic taco experience and I was not disappointed. I had the pastor, great texture with crispy edges and great taste. Also had the the campechano, perhaps even better tasting with less texture. The squeeze bottle salsa and large hunk of lime were the perfect toppings.

    In my my recent quest for the perfect taco, I stopped at Antique Taco and L'Patron. Both were just ok compared to TC II. (full disclosure, L'Patron was takeout).

    When one factors in quantity, quality and price this place rates at the very top of the heap.
  • Post #19 - December 17th, 2014, 1:20 pm
    Post #19 - December 17th, 2014, 1:20 pm Post #19 - December 17th, 2014, 1:20 pm
    Does anyone know if Al Pastor is a daily occurrence at the Armitage/Rockwell location? I took a run up here when this post was originally made earlier this year on Saturday and there wasn't any Al Pastor. Perhaps a M-F offering only? Has anyone been to this location recently? I was a regular at Tierra Caliente on Ashland for years, looking for the replacement.

    Thanks!
  • Post #20 - December 18th, 2014, 11:39 am
    Post #20 - December 18th, 2014, 11:39 am Post #20 - December 18th, 2014, 11:39 am
    Living about a 5-minute walk from TC2, my girlfriend and I have made it a bit of a weekend ritual to walk over for some al pastor. I can confirm that the trompo has been up the past few Saturdays and the pork is as crispy and juicy as you would hope.

    Definitely my favorite tacos in the city.
  • Post #21 - December 18th, 2014, 2:04 pm
    Post #21 - December 18th, 2014, 2:04 pm Post #21 - December 18th, 2014, 2:04 pm
    gnarchief wrote:Living about a 5-minute walk from TC2, my girlfriend and I have made it a bit of a weekend ritual to walk over for some al pastor. I can confirm that the trompo has been up the past few Saturdays and the pork is as crispy and juicy as you would hope.

    Definitely my favorite tacos in the city.


    Great, thank you!
  • Post #22 - December 19th, 2014, 1:19 pm
    Post #22 - December 19th, 2014, 1:19 pm Post #22 - December 19th, 2014, 1:19 pm
    I ran up to Tierra Caliente for lunch today, Al Pastor was awesome!
    IMG_5282.JPG
  • Post #23 - December 19th, 2014, 9:03 pm
    Post #23 - December 19th, 2014, 9:03 pm Post #23 - December 19th, 2014, 9:03 pm
    So glad to now live 2 blocks away... favorite al pastor other than Maxwell St. options.
  • Post #24 - March 14th, 2015, 12:12 pm
    Post #24 - March 14th, 2015, 12:12 pm Post #24 - March 14th, 2015, 12:12 pm
    TC2 was hoppin' yesterday at noon. We were psyched to see some seafood specials. Whole fish, fried tilapia(?), and nopales with some shrimp and egg pancakes. You might also notice some huevos peaking out on the left.

    Image

    They were happy to serve us the whole fish with a side of cactus shrimp sumpin' sumpin', as opposed to two whole platters. Why? Because it's hard to visit without getting the fab four: chorizo, lengua, the namesake, and pastor. Everything was delicious, and I'll be ordering those specials whenever they show up again.

    Image
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #25 - March 14th, 2015, 2:10 pm
    Post #25 - March 14th, 2015, 2:10 pm Post #25 - March 14th, 2015, 2:10 pm
    Glad you're having some success, because I'm not. Last time I walked in there, about a month ago there was no trompo, no lengua, no barbacoa. When I asked what they had they opened up some warmer trays of some soggy gray looking "asada", their Tierra Caliente special, and some chicken. I walked out. I mourn the loss of TC #1/el Chapin, and I find it difficult to imagine giving TC2 yet another chance.
    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 #26 - March 14th, 2015, 2:50 pm
    Post #26 - March 14th, 2015, 2:50 pm Post #26 - March 14th, 2015, 2:50 pm
    That's too bad. What time did you go? I've only ever gone between 10:00-2:00 during the week, and in dozens of visits, never had an off meal/experience.
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #27 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 pm
    Post #27 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 pm Post #27 - March 14th, 2015, 3:47 pm
    Sweetbread wrote:They were happy to serve us the whole fish with a side of cactus shrimp sumpin' sumpin', as opposed to two whole platters. Why? Because it's hard to visit without getting the fab four: chorizo, lengua, the namesake, and pastor. Everything was delicious, and I'll be ordering those specials whenever they show up again.

    I wouldn't be surprised if tortitos de camarón appear every Friday during Lent. I don't know Tierra Caliente's schedule, but it's one of the classic especiales de Cuaresma and most restaurants offer the largest selection on Fridays. I'm happy to hear a recommendation for the dish. I like the fishy little patties every now and then, at least when done well. It's fun to explore the meatless Mexican specialties unavailable most of the year.
  • Post #28 - July 29th, 2015, 4:23 pm
    Post #28 - July 29th, 2015, 4:23 pm Post #28 - July 29th, 2015, 4:23 pm
    As suggested I went earlier on a weekday (today). No pastor trompo at all, for the 2nd time in a row. At TC 1 there was never an empty rotisserie. :x
    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 #29 - July 30th, 2015, 9:32 am
    Post #29 - July 30th, 2015, 9:32 am Post #29 - July 30th, 2015, 9:32 am
    laikom wrote:As suggested I went earlier on a weekday (today). No pastor trompo at all, for the 2nd time in a row. At TC 1 there was never an empty rotisserie. :x



    Laikom, I think you're cursed. I've visited well over a dozen times since your Pi Day post, and have only seen the rotisserie empty once. But, don't fret! TODAY is YOUR day.

    9:45 am:

    Image

    They were more than happy to let me take pictures, but as I went to snap the beef prep for the namesake, Gordo put the knife down, and said "no, no, no, I'm too fat for pictures"- but en Espanol of course. Then their friend pointed to a picture on the wall of two monkeys embracing, one slightly larger than the other. They Sharpied on a caption over each monkey: "Raul" and "Gordo". I then said, "ah...dos changos", we had a chuckle, and I left.

    Anyway...

    Image

    .
    .
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #30 - July 30th, 2015, 11:06 am
    Post #30 - July 30th, 2015, 11:06 am Post #30 - July 30th, 2015, 11:06 am
    Granted I only go on weekends because they are a lunch spot, but I have never seen an empty rotisserie. Sometimes the trompo is mighty thin when I get there, but it is never down entirely.

    On the topic of TC, I had a campechano torta there recently and I think it is one of the best tortas I've ever had.

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