Basically, it's like getting your chips and guacamole all in one go: the tempura shatters on contact, while the avocado mixes with the pickled watermelon radish and serrano to make a guac I wouldn't hesitate to serve at a party.
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There is beauty in the veggie taco. That was one of the many surprises uncovered during my two trips to Mexico. While meaty options were far more prevalent, vegetable fillings abounded, and they were often the most colorful and enticing option. I've been on the hunt for similar tacos in Chicago ever since.
For a time there, it felt like every restaurant was contractually obligated to serve a Caesar salad. Luckily, a new wave of restaurants have reclaimed the salad, lavishing attention on the once neglected dish.
These new restaurants are literally all over the map, and come from both respected restauranteurs and hungry novices. The only similarity is that I was legitimately surprised by what I ate.
How many great tacos are there in Chicago? Well, there are enough that I was able to try a new restaurant or taqueria every week for a year and never come close to exhausting the possibilities. Sure, some were simply mediocre, while others were merely adequate, but occasionally I'd stumble upon a true find.
It's hard to believe how much I ate out in 2012. I probably ate out once a day, where I'd often try three to four different dishes. Then there were the occasions where I'd try one of everything at a restaurant, which immediately added dozens of options to the final tally. I thought putting together the list would be hard, but some very specific dishes jumped right out at me.
I thought Xoco had written the final word on churros, at least in Chicago. But Masa Azul's new dessert shows that two can play this fried game.
Masa Azul has always been a great place to drink. But thanks to new chef Jonathon Zaragoza, it's now serving some excellent food, too.
A parmesan nest perched upon this foundation stone overflows with more romaine lettuce (presumably to sop up any remaining fryer oil), fried artichoke hearts, fried carrot strings, cojita cheese, cilantro leaves, and a healthy drizzle of ancho chili aioli.