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Chicago Tacos: Rocky's Tacos

Editor's Note: This one is fairly self-explanatory, but here we go: Chicago Tacos explores the good, the bad, and the truly exceptional taco options in the Windy City—one taqueria at a time.

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[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Rocky's Tacos

7043 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60626 (map); 773-274-4555; rockystacos.com‎
Must Try: Lomo Encebollado
Cost: ($1.75)
Other Options: The suadero is also a good choice.

As I've already mentioned, Rocky's Tacos isn't the most aptly named taqueria. Besides a penchant for soccer (there is even a trophy case by the cash register), this Roger's Park joint really celebrates the wonders of the torta. How else do you explain a menu with around 78 different versions of the sandwich? But that doesn't mean you should completely overlook the taco options, because the same tasty fillings that end up in the tortas can be found wrapped up in corn tortillas.

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Hold up! There's ham in the Pico de gallo! What on earth is going on? Honestly, I have no idea, but I like it. The tomatoes, onions, and chiles are crisp and fresh, while the ham adds a soft and salty counterpart. It works wonderfully with the free chips that come on the side, but it's even better heaped on the tacos.

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The best filling I tried was definitely the Lomo Encebollado ($1.75), a combination of well seasoned ribeye (at least that's what it is called on the menu) and sweet and crunchy onions. The play of the textures—not to mention the mix of savory, sweet, and spicy flavors—added up to one fine taco.

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Also quite good was an extra crispy version of Suadero ($1.50). And I mean it: these pieces have sharp and nearly black caramelized edges. The hunks could pack more beefy punch like La Chaparrita, but it's still a solid rendition.

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Though griddled, the marinade for the Al Pastor ($1.50) was actually right on. So it's kind of too bad that the texture of the meat was a little too mushy. I still finished it.

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On the other hand, the Cecina ($1.75) had the firm texture down, but wasn't nearly salty enough.

So should you even bother with the tacos here? Everyone during the lunch rush had a torta in front of them, and the one I tried was all around better than the tacos. But if you find yourself here and just need a small bite, don't be afraid to give them a shot.

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