After five years in Chicago, I've tired more than my fair share of Mexican restaurants (probably in the hundreds right now). So with Cinco de Mayo coming up on Sunday, I decided to pick out the essential Mexican dishes in Chicago.
'Cemitas Puebla' on Serious Eats
Every once in a while you come across a sandwich that so grabs your attention that you wonder whether you'd ever want to eat anything else. We asked all of our contributors to pick out their favorite sandwich in Chicago, and the picks are as diverse as you'd expect, from gut-busting behemoths to nicely proportioned ones.
Though Cemitas Puebla is well known for cemitas—exceptional ones, I might add—there also happen to be a lot of tacos on the menu. It was time to try them. Considering how carefully those cemitas are constructed, I knew that the chances were good that the tacos would at least be solid. That, however, wouldn't have been good enough. The cemitas are near transcendent, so anything less than great would be somewhat of a disappointment.
Here are the ten most popular A Sandwich a Day posts from out short stint here in 2011. Turns out I completely underestimated Chicago's sandwich scene, as there are great sandwiches in just about every neighborhood. The diversity was also striking. Sandwiches were overloaded and excessive, or sleek and minimal.
Why do I keep going back to Cemitas Puebla? Sure, there are other truly remarkable sandwiches in town. It's just that no matter how many cemitas I've consumed—and I've had many—I always manage to be surprised by some small detail.
Cemitas Puebla in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago is known for their unique cemitas sandwich. You may have seen it on a certain bleach blond, spiky-haired, er, guy's show somewhere? The cemitas are served on a flat sesame-seed bun with avocado, your choice of meat (pictured here is the milanesa, the breaded pork cutlet), adobo chipotle peppers, fresh Oaxacan cheese, and, when in season, papalo, a Mexican herb similar to cilantro.