Unless you're eating one of Rick Bayless's wood-fired and locally sourced masterpieces at Xoco, you order a torta for one reason: you're hungry and you don't care who knows it. In that respect, Taqueria Moran, which is tucked under the California Blue Line stop in Logan Square, serves up a carnitas version that does not disappoint.
For a place not known for its carnitas, Taqueria Moran's are pretty impressive. The carnitas are at once meltingly tender and crispy-crunchy from a quick layover on the griddle. There are better versions around town, but at least you won't have to go all the way down to Pilsen to get your fix.
The torta itself is standard issue. A squishy telera roll from the bakery next door is lightly toasted and smeared with refried beans before being loaded with a mound of rich carnitas. Lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, and a shocking amount of mayo round out this beast of a sandwich. While the carnitas and refried beans were actually quite good, the other elements of the sandwich left something to be desired. The excessive mayo, watery lettuce, and lackluster bun made this sandwich a little too reminiscent of a Burger King fried chicken sandwich. Still, this was nothing a few slices of roasted jalapeño, a squeeze of lime, and a generous drizzle of salsa verde couldn't fix. I was pleasantly full for the rest of the day -- all for under five dollars.
Taqueria Moran 2226 N California Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-235-2663
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