[Photographs: Titus Ruscitti] The torta sandwich is as common in Mexican restaurants these days as tacos or burritos. Rick Bayless's Xoco made them fashionable, but they've always been a lunchtime favorite of Chicago's Mexican community. Dona Torta in Little...
Little Village, South Side
I'd like to welcome Las Quecas to Chicago, which is the first outlet of the quesadilleria outside of Cancun. I stopped into try the specialty of the house, and also got the chance to talk to chef Ambrocia about what led to his decision to open here.
I'm excited to report that the wonderful Little Village staple Delicias Mexicanas has opened a second location. Now it's easier to find hot dogs con tocino—that is, hot dogs wrapped in bacon.
I'd been tempted for a while to get my behind inside and see if their claim of "100% Estillo en Sinaloa-style grilled chicken" was accurate. So do they do it the right here? Is there charcoal? Yes! and plenty of it!
Not every place that makes tortillas by hand is great, but as with Neapolitan pizza crust, if you get that right it almost doesn't matter what else you do.
As far as I'm concerned, Atotonilco serves only al pastor. When it's on, it's one of the best versions around—crispy, caramelized, and charged with chiles.
La Chaparrita is not only one of the best taquerias in town, it's a Chicago dining experience unlike any other. The only way I felt like I could celebrate it properly was to try every single taco on the menu.
La Chaparrita offers a number of fillings for their taquitos de canasta, but my eyes went straight for the Chicharrón. The fried pork skin is simmered in some of the same salsa the tortillas are dipped in, which amounts to a filling that tastes like the richest, most flavorful barbacoa ever.
I'm proud to report that Chickie's is back. With new owners and a freshly rehabbed location (including an impressive mural on the side of the building) this stand is once again kicking out a destination worthy Italian beef and some fantastic fresh-cut fries.
Every discussion about La Casa de Samuel in Little Village begins and ends with the tortillas. The restaurant obviously knows this. They make everything taste better. That includes any of the meaty fillings, the beans, guacamole, or the salsa. I used up so many so quickly, my waitress had to run around the restaurant for more. (And if you ask nicely, and tip accordingly, she'll even send some tortillas home with you.)
Home Run Inn may be better known nationally for its frozen pizzas, but for generations of Chicagoans, it's a pizzeria first and foremost, and a popular one at that. In one day, I checked out the original location and a frozen pie. Not surprisingly, the fresh ones were vastly superior, but both versions do the tradition proud.
Standing Room Only, in which the author visits Chicago's best seatless eateries. Have at it, Nick. Chickie's 2839 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago IL 60623 (map); 773-277-2333 The Short Order: Succulent Italian beef with excellent green giardinera Want Fries with That?...
Daniel Zemans, our man in Chicago, checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. Daniel also blogs about Chicagoland pizza with his friends on the Chicago Pizza Club blog. --The Mgmt. Do you remember when...